Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson has fought some of the best heavyweights in the world: Vitali Klitschko, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. to name a few. He has a record of 35 wins, 21 losses and 2 draws, with 19 knockouts.
Johnson, who was born in Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA, expressed his desire to become a Russian citizen yesterday, after he defeated MMA fighter-turned boxer Viacheslav “Red Tarzan” Datsik in a three round exhibition in Moscow. In his post-fight interview, he said: “This is it right here. I’m really ready to make a life-long change. And I would like to say to THE president, the honorable Vladimir Putin, if you’re watching this and you’re listening, I, Kevin Johnson, am looking to move here to Moscow and become a full resident here to pursue my career. And with your approval, I would like to apply for a Russian passport where Russia can be my home.”
— Tim Boxeo (@TimBoxeo) March 31, 2023
Johnson’s admiration for Vladimir Putin seems to be based on a superficial and naive impression of the Russian leader. Johnson also said that he likes Putin’s “swagger” and “confidence”. However, he did not mention anything about Putin’s policies, actions, or values that might justify his respect. He did not seem to be aware of the controversies and criticisms that Putin faces both domestically and internationally.
Johnson’s comments have sparked criticism from some boxing fans and observers, who accused him of pandering to Putin for financial or political reasons. Johnson has not fought for a major title since 2009, when he lost to Vitali Klitschko by unanimous decision. He has since become a journeyman fighter, losing to several rising prospects and contenders in Europe. Some have suggested that Johnson is seeking Russian citizenship as a way to extend his career or gain access to lucrative opportunities in the country. Others have questioned his sincerity and loyalty to his homeland, especially given the tense relations between the US and Russia over various issues.
Kevin Johnson has not responded to the backlash, but has reiterated his desire to become a Russian citizen. He said he hopes to fight again in Moscow soon and to represent Russia in international competitions. He also said he would like to meet Putin personally and thank him for his hospitality and support.