September 27, 2022

Yaroslav Amosov: Ukrainian MMA champion recounts the horrors of war — ‘This is not saving, this is destruction’

6 min read

The sky is clear and calm, and the chirping of birds can be heard on the trees. Amosov describes the evening as “calm.”

But for many Ukrainians, such moments have rarely passed since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, and at every step, Amosov is reminded of the devastation wrought by Vladimir Putin’s war in his homeland.

In April, local officials said 50 percent of Arpin’s key infrastructure had been destroyed.

“It was always beautiful here, people were happy, they were happy with their lives and they enjoyed it.

“Then just look at the city that is on fire, which is being destroyed and it’s horrible to see. You really couldn’t drive in the city because the roads were covered with trees, in some places. But, there. There were parts of houses. Destruction. “

Ukraine is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of its generation and, at 26-0, is currently the longest-running unbeaten team in all MMA. On May 13, he should have defended his welterweight world title at the Balletter event at Wembley Arena in London.

Before challenging Dave Reckless in August 2019, Yaroslav Amosov poses for pictures in weight.

Amosov was pursuing Khabib Nurmagomedov’s all-time unbeaten record of 29-0 and was set to face Michael Page in a highly anticipated contest before Russia’s attack on Ukraine forced him to withdraw.

The 28-year-old returned home from a training camp in Thailand four days before the start of the war. Once Russian troops began advancing, Amosov says he took his wife and six-month-old son to safety on the outskirts of Ukraine before fleeing to Arpin and surrounding areas. Join the regional defense for help.

The bitter reality of the war soon became apparent.

Amosov recalls, “In the early days, it was very difficult to see all these events, to get used to them, to see how people were running away from their homes.” “Not everyone could leave, there were parents of some people they could not leave behind, who were very old and could not move properly.

“People are running away … carrying their children, carrying their parents in their arms, crying, they don’t know what to do, people are running away with their pets.

“I saw this situation when a soldier was running away holding a child in his arms. Everything in the child was covered in blood, but the blood was not his, it belonged to his father, the mother was running after him. I don’t know what happened to the baby’s father, but it’s hard to see.

“The baby was probably two or three years old, but he didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t hear him cry. He was probably in an unrealistic shock.”

The bizarre nature of the first few days of the attack was such that Amosov and his friends – who they say had never had guns before – were only briefly trained to wield their weapons. How to run because the fighting had started in the city.

Amosov says the moment that stuck most with him came a few weeks later, when most of the city had been liberated from Russian occupation.

His team was patrolling Arpin to distribute aid and found civilians who had been hiding in basements with limited food and water for about a month.

Amosov was due to defend his title in London on Friday.

He clearly remembers a man who was seen crying after being given bread. “It’s very painful to see a person holding a piece of bread and crying, and it’s very painful to watch,” says Amosov.

Last week, Erpin Mayor Alexander Marcoshin said in a statement that 290 bodies had been found in the town since the withdrawal of Russian troops.

Of those killed, 185 were identified, most of them men, Marcoshan said. The cause of death was “knives and gunshot wounds.” At least five of those who died suffered brain injuries and starvation, according to Marquess.

In total, more than 8 million people have been internally displaced in Ukraine, according to the latest report from the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM).

‘You want to defend this country’

In his darkest moments, Amosov admitted that he did not know if he would live during the day to sleep every night. He says what kept it going was the “crazy help” and kindness of Ukrainian citizens every day.

Amosov and his group often did not have time to eat in the evening, but they regularly met by the roadside with people who cooked and prepared hot drinks for those who helped in the war in Ukraine.

Even those who have almost nothing will try to give something to the soldiers, sometimes just a chocolate bar.

“I am proud to have such people and we live in such a wonderful country,” he says.

Although Amosov survived the worst fighting in Europe, not everyone who fought with him was so lucky. After a few days’ journey to see and meet his wife and son, Amosov says he returned and saw that one of the young men who had joined him in the regional defense had died.

“It’s hard to see a mother burying her child and her girlfriend, who had planned her future with her, standing there,” he recalls. “This is our home, our family lives here and we want things back to normal. We had a good life, we were satisfied with everything.

“When you look at all those people, women, children, when you look at the mothers who buried their children, when you look at what is happening in your city, when in your city There is a fire, you want to help and you want to defend. This city, this country. “

Last month, Amosov posted himself fetching the Ballet World Championship ballot from his mother’s home in Arpan.

In the video, Amosov climbs a ladder into the house with a plastic bag, which he opens to reveal his belt.

He laughs and says he is “taking the ballot a second time” and later posts a picture of himself surrounded by a group in military uniform.

MMA champion Yaroslav Amosov recovered his belt from the wreckage of his iparin house.

“At the time, it was good because the belt was safe and secure,” he says. “It was good that my mother hid it well and it survived, and the Russian troops were retreating from our part of Ukraine that day, so the mood was better.

“But at the same time, I’m standing here now and it’s calm in our city and it’s all good, but I understand and know what’s going on in other cities and it’s hard to just laugh with friends. It’s hard to live. Good mood because I’ve been in a situation where there are bombings and shootings all the time.

‘It’s a disaster’

One day during the war, Amosov says his friends informed him about one of his fans, a young man who had been practicing martial arts but now found himself injured in hospital.

Amosov started texting the boy and arranged to see him soon. When he arrived, Amosov was devastated to see that the young fan, who was only 20 years old, had lost both his legs in the fight.

“I do not understand why people do not believe what is happening here, they think. [Russia] A “special operation” is underway to rescue the people, “he said, referring to the glad tidings used by Russian officials to describe the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

“But you see what is happening with Mariupol, we have all the other cities in Ukraine that were damaged and many civilians died who just wanted to live. They didn’t want a war, they were satisfied with everything. ۔

“I don’t understand how anyone can fight so cruelly, not under any rules. I have the impression that it’s almost like something that isn’t human. Their house? And they talk about saving.” Yes? It’s not saving, it’s destroying. “

Once the fighting in Arpan began to subside, Amosov says he immediately returned to his mixed martial arts training.

Logan Storley was the fighter brought in to replace Amosov for Friday’s match against Page, and Ukraine says he is itching to return to the cage and will keep a close eye to see who wins. ۔

“now [I’m] Restoring shape … I want to come back, “he says.” I want our whole country to return to its former life and I want to defend my belt. “

Amosov admitted that he did not know when that would happen, but he did know what his native nation would be like after the end of the war.

“For every citizen of Ukraine, it will look like the best country in the world, the most beautiful and the most loving.”

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