Ukrainian kickboxer Maksym Kagal, who died fighting Russian forces in Mariupol, hailed as hero
According to coach Oleg Skirta, the 30-year-old was battling against invading Russian forces as part of Ukraine's Azov Battalion unit in Mariupol on Friday when he laid down his life defending his country.
Ukrainian kickboxing champion Maksym Kagal has been killed in combat while fighting alongside soldiers in the besieged city of Mariupol. According to coach Oleg Skirta, the 30-year-old was battling against invading Russian forces as part of Ukraine's Azov Battalion unit in Mariupol on Friday when he laid down his life defending his country.
"Unfortunately, the war takes the best. On 25 March, while defending the city of Mariupol as part of the Azov Separate Special Forces Unit, Maksym Kagal died," Skirta said in a statement on Facebook.
Describing Kagal, Skirta said that he was the first world kickboxing champion from the glorious city of Kremenchuk, the first world champion among adults in the Ukraine team, and an honest and decent person.
"Sleep well, brother, rest in peace to you; we will avenge you," Skirta added.
Since the war broke out last month, many Ukrainian civilians have joined the armed forces to defend their country. Kagal, who had clinched the World Kickboxing Championship ISKA in 2020, also decided to take up arms and defend his country from Putin's forces.
According to Al Jazeera, the Azov Battalion is a far-right all-volunteer infantry unit whose members are largely ultra-nationalists.
Reports added that the Azov Battalion was formed in 2014 to fight against pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk. Its success on the battlefield led to it being officially integrated into the National Guard of Ukraine on 12 November 2014, a few months after it helped recapture Mariupol from Russian-backed separatists.
Kagal's death in Mariupol comes as the city sees heavy fighting amid mounting casualties. Following this tragic news, several netizens took to Twitter to mourn the death of the kickboxer and also hailed him as a hero for laying down his life while fighting to defend his country. Here's a look at some of the reactions:
UN officials said on Friday that there is evidence of mass graves in the besieged city of Mariupol. Matilda Bogner, head of a UN human rights team currently in the country, said, "We have got increasing information on mass graves that are there."
"The extent of civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian objects strongly suggests that the principles of distinction, of proportionality, the rule on feasible precautions and the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks have been violated," Bogner added.
Mariupol is widely seen as a strategic prize for the Russian invaders to create a bridge between Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, and two separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine.