7 sports stars who served in the army as Wladimir Klitschko prepares for conflict with Russia
Wladimir Klitschko is no stranger to conflict, but can find himself embroiled in a conflict quite different from what he has been used to in the past.
Instead of going up against other boxers inside a ring, he could find himself fighting Russian soldiers if Vladimir Putin gives the order to invade Ukraine.
Around 100,000 troops are currently stationed on the border, along with heavy artillery and ammunition as tensions escalate in Eastern Europe.
Russia denied suggestions it was preparing to invade, but said it could be forced into military action if Ukraine joined the US-led NATO military alliance.
Former world heavyweight champion Klitschko has joined his country’s reserve forces so he can help defend his city, the capital Kyiv, if needed.
“I enlisted as a reserve of the territorial forces, to defend the city of Kyiv, because of everything that is happening now around Ukraine and the aggression from the Russian side,” said the man from 45 years old.
He’s not the only sports star answering the call to serve his country, so Featured Sport took a look at others who have military experience.
The story of football star Son was well documented, after she appeared he was expected to take part in military service in his native South Korea.
It was feared he would have to fulfill the full two-year requirement which would have left Tottenham Hotspur missing one of their best players for a long time.
But in the end he was only able to complete a three-week spell – which he did during the first Covid lockdown of 2020, so he didn’t miss any action for Spurs.
What other sports stars have also joined the military? Let us know in the “Comments” section.
Sharpshooter Son lived up to his talent on the field as he was reported to have finished first in his class and achieved full marks in the shooting discipline.
Before becoming world champion racing driver, F1 Iceman Kimi Raikkonen was also forced to do his national service in Finland.
His time in the forces lasted longer than Son’s, but he was able to ensure his career remained on track as he used his personal leave to compete in the British Formula Renault Championship.
Despite balancing his races with his military commitments, Raikkonen was successful in his service and even won seven of his 10 races, enough to secure an F1 seat with Sauber.
Want to be up to date with all the latest football news?
Then sign up for the brilliant Daily Star football email newsletter!
From the latest transfer news to diary-setting stories, get it all delivered to your email inbox – don’t miss a thing.
How to register ?
It only takes few seconds.
Simply type your email address in the box at the top of this article and click “Subscribe”.
There you go, job done. You will receive an email with all the main news every morning.
You can find more information about our email newsletter at this link here.
He went on to win the 2007 Drivers’ title and enjoyed a long spell in the sport before retiring at the end of last season.
While Son and Raikkonen’s military experiences were formalities, Grobbelaar’s were anything but as he saw action in the Rhodesian Bush War during his time in the Zimbabwean military.
He was told by his superiors to “shoot anything that moved” and was forced to kill enemy combatants while watching three friends and comrades die.
The goalkeeper went on to rack up 440 appearances for Liverpool and won 13 major trophies, including league titles and the European Cup.
But even now, Grobbelaar says he gets “cold sweats” when he thinks about his war stories, telling the BBC in 2018: “You’re not the same person once you’ve done it” .
Lady Kelly Holmes
Holmes rose to fame with her bronze medal in the 800m at the 2000 Olympics, before truly becoming a star for the British team with two gold medals four years later in Athens.
This all came after she decided to focus on athletics full time, but before that she was juggling her sporting dreams and a career in the British Army.
Holmes joined the Army as a teenager and competed in middle-distance running events representing the Army.
Her military background earned her an honorary colonelcy of the Royal Armored Corps after retiring from athletics in 2005, and has since become a successful TV pundit and author.
Benn was another who joined the British Army as a fresh-faced teenager, before pursuing his sporting dreams.
But before becoming a professional boxer, Benn was stationed in West Germany for three years in the 1980s before spending 18 months in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
Even after leaving the army, he said he would be paranoid about being a target for the IRA, telling the Sydney Morning Herald: “Because you were there, you check under your car and everything. .”
He then became a professional boxer and won world championships in two separate weight classes before hanging up the gloves in 1996.
Mr Bobby Charlton
Manchester United legend Charlton was one of the few members of the 1966 World Cup-winning squad with military experience.
As he rose through the youth ranks at Old Trafford, Sir Bobby completed his national service with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, having been encouraged to do so by iconic manager Matt Busby.
He went on to become one of the greatest players in United history, while also playing a major role in England’s only major international trophy to date.
Goalkeeper Gordon Banks was another who had completed his national service and was posted to Germany with the Royal Signals before becoming one of England’s top goalkeepers.
Akabusi joined the British Army aged 17 and has his military service to thank for the trophy-laden sporting career that followed.
During his 15-year stint in the forces, Akabusi’s competitive potential was discovered by senior officers and he eventually returned to athletics.
He wasn’t just good at it – he represented Great Britain at the 1984 Olympics, winning silver in the 4x400m relay team, and also won two bronze medals at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. .
He also became world champion in 1991 to go along with his gold medals from the 1990 Commonwealth Games and European Championships.