By Corey Atad.

The ESPY Awards is honouring one of the central figures defending Ukraine.

At the 2022 awards ceremony, former heavyweight boxing champion and Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko will accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

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“The award is given to a deserving member of the sporting world who makes a difference far beyond the field of play, impacting the world in indelible ways,” the announcement reads.

Klitschko has been mayor of Kyiv since 2014 and has been an inspiration to Ukrainians and others around the world for his resilience amid Russia’s invasion of the country, which began in February.

He and his brother Wladimir are both former heavyweight champions, and as Russia invaded, they both pledged to take up arms to protect their city and country.

“It is a great honour for me to receive this award,” said Klitschko in a statement. “I am convinced that this is a recognition of the courage and inviolability of the Ukrainian people, who have been bravely resisting the Russian aggressor for more than three months. This is an award for everyone who defends the independence and freedom of Ukraine.”

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Klitschko has also made frequent public appeals for international support for Ukraine, including just a few weeks ago at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

“Vitali’s poise and strength as his city and country faces unfathomable tests have far surpassed the incredible resolve he demonstrated as one of boxing’s top heavyweight champions,” said Rob King, executive editor-at-large ESPN content. “His commitment to the people of Ukraine has been a global inspiration, and his bravery is a prime example of the resilience of the human spirit. It is our privilege to bestow him with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.”

Previous recipients of the Ashe Award include Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Billie Jean King, and more.


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Ellen Bullock