'Ring of Conflict': From Ukraine to Israel, Ishchenko jabs away
Hamburg: Conflict spares none in its vicinity, not even those who trade blows for a living on a daily basis.
Pavlo Ishchenko, a two-time European Championships' medallist, had spent a good part of his boxing career representing Ukraine before being driven to Israel by the violent 2014 "revolution" which culminated in, what the West calls, Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Ishchenko, in fact, grew up in Kherson, a city near the disputed peninsula, which remains an international flashpoint. Representing his adopted homeland at the ongoing 19th World Championships, Ishchenko's is a fascinating tale, which also includes a brief unbeaten professional stint in the USA.
"I used to play for Ukraine till 2015, I was, in fact, the captain of the team. But after the revolution in 2014, it became hard to live there," Ishchenko said refusing to elaborate on how hard it might have become for his family to move out. The 25-year-old is a seasoned international campaigner, having won a lightweight (60kg) gold medal in the 2013 European Championships for Ukraine before claiming a bronze for Israel at the same event earlier this year, ironically on Ukrainian soil.
He has been a quarterfinalist in the International Boxing Association's semi-professional World Series of Boxing.
Ishchenko, along with David Alaverdian (52kg), make for a small two-strong Israeli representation at the mega-event, where the country has never won a medal.
"My father is a jew, he doesn't look like a jew but he is," Ishchenko joked pointing to his father Oleg, his formative coach and the man, who is doing his seconding at the championship," he said.