In a surprise move after a recent exhibition match in Moscow, famed boxer Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson revealed his intentions to become a Russian citizen. With notable fights against the likes of Vitali Klitschko, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, and Andy Ruiz Jr. under his belt, Johnson’s declaration took many by surprise. Holding a record of 35 wins (with 19 KOs), 21 losses, and 2 draws, Johnson’s boxing resume is impressive.
Born in Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA, Johnson’s declaration came after his win against MMA athlete turned boxer, Viacheslav “Red Tarzan” Datsik. In the adrenaline-fueled moments after the match, Johnson addressed the Russian President directly, expressing, “I’m looking to move here to Moscow… and with your approval, I would like to apply for a Russian passport.”
— Tim Boxeo (@TimBoxeo) March 31, 2023
Johnson’s admiration for Putin appeared to be rooted in his persona, stating he is drawn to Putin’s “swagger” and “confidence”. However, his comments seemed devoid of any deeper understanding or endorsement of Putin’s policies or leadership approach, and there was no acknowledgment of the myriad of controversies associated with the Russian leader.
This sudden revelation didn’t sit well with many boxing enthusiasts and commentators. Accusations flew about Johnson attempting to curry favor with Putin, either for financial gains or to further his boxing career. It’s noteworthy to mention that Johnson hasn’t fought for a significant title since his 2009 match against Vitali Klitschko, which he lost. Some speculations arose that Johnson’s intention might be aimed at rejuvenating his career in Russia, where he could find potential opportunities.
The strained relations between the US and Russia further added to the criticism against Johnson’s proclamation. While Johnson didn’t address the critics directly, he remained firm on his decision to acquire Russian citizenship. He hopes to fight in Moscow again, possibly even representing Russia on international platforms. Moreover, he expressed a keen interest in personally meeting President Putin to express gratitude.