Boxing in war-torn Ukraine continues to press ahead despite the ongoing Russian invasion that has accelerated this past week.

Twenty nine Russian missiles were launched on Kyiv just nine days ahead of Vlad Eliseev’s next promotion. All missiles were successfully intercepted but the debris resulted in 13 residents being wounded. One day later Russia launched its largest attack on Ukraine with 88 missiles and 63 shaded drones falling on the cities of Kharkiv, Dnipro, Lviv, Vinnytsia and Zaporizhzhia. 

Eliseev’s Top Boxing Generation returns to Kyiv on March 30. It will be his fifth promotion since the war began just over two years ago. The task of staging a boxing show during wartime is unthinkable to most. 

“There are some instructions from the government because we are dealing with the public,” Eliseev said in an exclusive interview for “Our next show is going to have over 2,000 people there, so we need to give the crowd details on how to get to the shelter if a siren goes off when we are boxing. There will likely be an underground metro station nearby that is the shelter. Since the war started we have had many new pop-up shelters in the city, many buildings that are used for normal life have been converted into bomb shelters. Everyone is trying to carry on as much as normal, this is one of many examples. It is very difficult for a big city like Kyiv to just stop, we have had to adapt.

“The government has been good with us and accepted all the shows we have put forward. They seem happy for us to push forward despite the war. The president has openly said that we need to continue to develop sport. This is exactly what will do, we know it is appreciated. Boxing in Kyiv is re-evolving at the moment after all boxing stopped on February 24 in 2022 because of the war. We had to stop doing boxing shows for about a year because Russia was attacking us, it took a lot of people by surprise. Everything stopped. There were a couple of other promoters that put on shows in smaller cities, but Top Boxing Generation returned in April of 2023.”

Elissev currently watches over 50 professional fighters, the vast majority coming from  the partially occupied Ukraine. 

“One of my fighters Oleksandr Solomennikov was very lucky as he arrived in Poland to spar with Kamil Laszczyk just three days before the war started,” Elissev explained. “There was a lot of debate on whether he should come back to Ukraine at the beginning, but then we finally decided that it was best that he stayed. Now he lives in Poland, the conditions are good for him to train. He’s very talented, but it is not the easiest. Traveling from Kyiv to anywhere outside Ukraine is crazy. If you want to fly anywhere, the nearest airport is in Poland which takes over 24 hours to get to due to the trains and checkpoints. It used to take me less than an hour to get to Poland, before the war and I could fly anywhere very easily.”

Boxing is one of the top sports in the country. Ukraine has produced some of the best fighters performing today. As Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko globe trot against the biggest fighters on the planet, Elissev and TBG continue to lay the foundations for the next crop of superstars to fly the flag for Ukrainian boxing. 

“It will be a really great show for Ukraine,” Elissev added. “We have a nice main event with Nazri Rahimov fighting the Colombian Jorge Moya for the WBC youth title. It’s not easy to find opponents for Nazri or any of our fighters, people are obviously not too happy to travel to Ukraine during the war. I have to thank my friend Inigo Herbosa for bringing fighters here, he brought Irving Berry too. 

“The fighters who come to Ukraine right now from abroad are very brave, but also probably a bit crazy. But what I can say is that Kyiv has a very good defense, I do feel safe and I trust the air defense and soldiers of Ukraine. I think we all need to have belief in each other at this time. It is a big pain to all of us, but we have to continue to build the country in all aspects as best we can.”

The situation in the east of Ukraine is far worse than in Eliseev’s hometown of Kyiv. The battle line stretching across the whole county has Ukrainians living in fear that they could be occupied at any moment. 

“I made a call to my partner Mykola Kravchenko the other day and I’m very worried because he lives in Sumy,” Eliseev added. “It borders Russia, it was hit with over 100 missiles. Now another 800 weapons have arrived on the border, everyone is worried and talking about evacuation because it is so dangerous. I have a lot of friends in that part of the country, it’s terrible what is happening.”

Eliseev’s commitment to boxing in his country was remarkable as we discussed promoting in the midst of war. He has seen first hand the effects as his TBG office in Kyiv was attacked and destroyed when Russia first invaded. 

“On June 24 [2023] our offices were bombed,” Eliseev remembered. “We had our offices on the 25th floor, the Russian rocket hit the 20th floor. The whole country has a curfew where we must be at home at midnight, only the police and soldiers can walk the streets. We were lucky there wasn’t a situation where someone slept at work, because we had a very nice office, people used to sleep there if we had a lot of work sometimes. We went back after and it was very dark because 14 people died on other floors in the building. It used to be crazy when so many people died at once in our country, but now it is reality. However, we have already adapted to the war and have another big show planned in August.”