During the official weigh-in ceremony ahead of his championship fight, Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk entered the ring with a flag with a Greek inscription “Ορθοδοξία ή Θάνατος”, which translates as “Orthodoxy or death”.
This was reported by OCU priest Mykhailo Omelyan.
The slogan “Orthodoxy or death” is known for being popular among Orthodox fundamentalists and religious radicals from some countries, such as Russia, Greece, and Serbia. It gained popularity in the last century and is connected with the history of the Athos monastery Esphygmenou. The monastery is now under the occupation of a group known as “zealots” who use this slogan in their narratives.
“Unfortunately, the UOC MP, which is institutionally connected to the ROC and Kirill Gundyaev, for whom Usyk so actively advocates, will not tell him the truth and will not tell him about the perniciousness of promoting such narratives, because it is convenient for them that people are fanatical and do not think with their minds, especially amid Russia’s war against Ukraine,” the priest writes.
Oleksandr Usyk is now the subject of debate due to the fact that he uses a flag and slogan associated with religious and political extremist organizations. The athlete was criticized for choosing such a symbol, which can play a role in spreading controversial views and national-religious tensions.
The fact that information about Usyk’s act was made public on the Greek website romfea.gr, which is known for its focus on supporting Russian narratives and may be funded from Russia, is particularly peculiar.
It remains unknown whether Oleksandr Usyk fully understands the meaning of the inscription on the flag, as well as its association with religious and political extremism. The question also arises whether Usyk was aware of the statements by Kirill Gundyaev, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, regarding the war in Ukraine. Gundyaev has previously expressed support for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“It’s a shame that a boxer who represents Ukraine is influenced by those who promote harmful narratives, or could this be his personal conviction?
Wouldn’t it be better to once again and in this format draw the attention of the international community not to extreme fanatical inscriptions, but to the war in Ukraine???”, Father Mykhailo concluded.