Ahead of the Russian presidential elections set to take place on Sunday, March 18, boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. believes the country’s incumbent leader Vladimir Putin is “misunderstood.”
According to the six-time world champion in four weight classes, Putin represents masculinity, machismo, and is a “man of his word.”
“There are thing people have misunderstood about Mr. Putin,” Roy Jones Jr. told UFC Unfiltered. “To me, he is a man’s man. He does things that men are really highly engaged in. He’ll fish, he hunts, he boxes. He does taekwondo, Aikido — things that men love. That is just who he is. And he is a man of his word.”
In 2015, the boxer traveled to Sevastopol, Crimea, where he met with Putin and requested Russian citizenship from the president. Pleased with the boxer’s eagerness, Putin revealed that if Jones Jr spends enough time in Russia, authorities “would certainly be happy to fulfil [Jones’] request to receive a Russian passport, Russian citizenship.” By September, Roy Jones Jr. had been granted a Russian passport by special decree.
It was Putin’s actions towards Roy Jones Jr. that convinced the boxer that the president was a strong leader capable of taking decisive actions.
“The problem people have with him is that if he says he is going to do something, there ain’t no question that he’s going to do it,” Roy Jones Jr. explained. “I have nothing but love and respect for a person like that because that is the way life should be. That is what I like about Mr. Putin. If he says he is going to do something, he is going to do it. ‘Look, you want to be a Russian citizen? Bam. I can make that happen.’ It is just that simple.”
The 49-year-old boxer claims to spend six months out of the year in Russia. Over the past couple of years, he has visited the likes of Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov to watch an MMA tournament with the controversial ruler of the Chechen Republic. He also attended the Russian Boxing Championships in Chechnya between September 30 and October 8.
Asked whether he would use his newfound political friendships to help the UFC secure an event in the Russian Federation, Roy Jones Jr. suggested he would reach out to the likes of Putin.
“I’ll do all I can to help facilitate that event.”