Boxing 2023: 30-year-old champion Alexander Onishchenko died in the Russian-Ukrainian war

The boxing champion of Ukraine died in a battle with the Russians on the front line.

Alexander Onishchenko, who played for the national team, died in battle near the besieged city of Bakhmut.

Watch boxing live and on demand on Kayo. Selected international fights, classic fights and more. New to Cayo? Start your free trial now >

The 30-year-old’s trainer Dmitry Dubrov called him “one of the best boxers” in an emotional tribute.

He said, “He was one of my best students.

“He was like a son to me. I’ve been coaching him since I was nine years old.

“We have gone through a very difficult boxing path, he has achieved a lot.

“He was one of the best boxers in the Sumy region and a two-time champion of Ukraine among youths.”

The funeral of Alexander, which was attended by comrades from the Sumy region and which was broadcast on television, took place on Wednesday.

The Ukrainian Boxing Federation said in a statement: “Oleksandr died near Bakhmut, defending the homeland of Ukraine from the Russian enemy.

“The Boxing Federation of Ukraine expresses its sincere condolences to the family of Oleksandr.

“Eternal memory to all those who gave their lives for the freedom and independence of our country.”

The city of Bakhmut has witnessed the fiercest fighting since the start of the war in February last year.

It took Vladimir Putin’s troops almost 300 days to seize control of the city, which was described as having only limited broader strategic importance to the war in Ukraine.

Russia advanced only 60 feet a day, lost up to 100,000 men, and left Bakhmut a ruined hellscape in an agonizingly slow nine-month advance.

The city was once home to 73,000 Ukrainians and how it was left in ruins.

The photographs show burning buildings and completely destroyed streets, devoid of all life after months of what is being called the “bloodiest battle” of the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine says its soldiers played a key role in their strategy to deplete the Russians.

And they say their current position around Bakhmut will allow them to strike back inside the 400-year-old city.

When Putin invaded the city on February 24, 2022, the city immediately found itself on the front lines with the Russians shelling it regularly.

But it wasn’t until last August that the Russians made the city their main target, bringing in troops in staggering numbers.

Russia is estimated to have suffered up to 100,000 casualties, including 20,000 killed, during the battle.

NATO officials believe that the Ukrainians held back the Russians at a five-to-one ratio, that is, they lost about 20,000 people.

The fighting escalated into brutal hand-to-hand and street fighting, with some reports of a life expectancy of just four hours for those on the front lines.

The Battle of Bakhmut became very symbolic for both Ukraine and Russia – it was nicknamed the “meat grinder” and compared to the battles of the First World War, such as the battles of the Somme and Verdun.

Russian troops, led by mercenaries from the Wagner group and their deranged commander, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said they captured the city over the weekend.

However, Ukraine remained defiant, and President Volodymyr Zelensky denied that the city was occupied, while his forces appeared to be regrouping on the outskirts.

According to some analysts, Ukraine’s tactical successes in the countryside outside the city of Bakhmut may be more significant than they seem.

Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at St. Andrews University, said: “It was like the Ukrainians were just taking advantage of the fact that the Russians were actually weak.

“The Russian army has suffered such heavy losses and is so exhausted around Bakhmut that … it cannot go further forward.”

The Institute for the Study of War reports that Ukrainian troops have taken refuge in the southwest of the city on the T0504 highway.

He added that Ukraine “tacitly acknowledged” that the Russians controlled the rest of Bakhmut.

However, Ukrainian forces report that they are continuing their offensive and are trying to encircle part of the Russian forces.

This story first appeared in Sun and has been reprinted with permission.

Originally published as ‘One of the best’: 30-year-old boxing champion dies in Russian-Ukrainian war