Knocking Labour: Oleksandr Usyk, a boxer, on how to overcome pain, rivals, and doubts

УДАРНЫЙ ТРУД: боксер Александр Усик о том, как преодолевать боль, соперников и сомнения
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A goal drives a person and gives his life a meaning. The goal must be big – then your life will be full

Teachers play an important role in the life of every person. Those school teachers who are supposed to kind of open the world for us and motivate us to achieve goals.

That was not my case.

Once I told myself that I would become an absolute world champion in boxing. Few people believed that I would succeed. Instead of boxing, I was advised to spend more time on my studies. In particular, a Geography teacher believed that I was good for nothing. Her words hurt me painfully and I decided to prove it to her and myself that she was wrong. It took me five years to become a world champion.


A big goal should drive a man. When I say “big”, I mean “significant”. You should not allow substituting notions and put the material (financial) component first. Still, many people are concerned with money and, mostly, nothing else. Before the 2012 Olympics, people often asked me about my motivation. My goal was to become an Olympic champion and I did it. “But what about the money?” My answer was: “If I win I may receive some monetary reward from the government, but that is not the main thing. The main idea is to become a champion and get a medal. An Olympic gold medal”.


Money is a good servant, but a bad lord. You cannot allow it to grasp you completely, when you think of nothing else but making money. You let yourself do it, and you are lost. You need to focus on the goal, and the money will come, once the goal is achieved as part of the reward.

I am 31 now. I am overcoming difficulties all my life. You know what? I like it! My success in the ring is a reward for a hard work, but I do not allow myself to rest on my laurels. I do not relax. Throughout my career, I seem to be doing the same routine: I train, I enter the ring, I train again, and go into the fight again. Each of my new opponents is not similar to the previous one: someone is left-handed and someone is right-handed, one leads the fight in an aggressive attacking manner, and the other builds a strategy on counterattacks. To succeed, you must constantly be in great shape and increase the intensity of training.


Do you know, what makes a champion different from an ordinary person? I will give an analogy from the world of boxing. There are 30 seconds to perform a certain amount of an exercise. At the twentieth second, the coach begins to count down aloud. When the final “four-three-two-one” sound, eight people out of ten unwittingly slow down the pace and only two continue to do the exercise right up to the cut-off with the same speed. They become the champions; this kind of people achieve the goal, no matter what.

Sometimes at my training, I am struck by pain while running. I start talking to the pain and mocking at it a bit. I use to say: “Pain, you are weaker than me, you cannot beat me”. Otherwise (if I give in to pain), I will be defeated in the ring, as well as in my life.

When I set a new objective, I try to countermeasure it against my original idea of success. I listen to my inner self to understand whether it is “mine” or not. No other arguments count. They are just doubts, which are in the way and nothing else. If you have made a big decision, just do it. It may not work out at present. Then try it again tomorrow! Try it until you get the result.

However, you must not lose your temper. Any case should be approached with a consideration. The main goal should be achieved. Take care not to set two (or more) equally significant goals at the same time. You will split between them and eventually gain nothing. You need a clear perspective of where you are heading to and why. A goal achievement implies a huge expenditure of energy, and wasting it is an inaccessible luxury.

You may have stops in your journey to the goal. However, these stops are for accumulating forces to move on in turbo mode. You make two-three steps forward. You can take a step aside, but in no case – back *.

*The text was recorded during the speech at the Kyiv International Economic Forum, 2018

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