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Stanislav Horuna, Ukrainian Olympian: “Only our nation is united as never before”

Video interview Stanislav Horuna above

Stanislav HorunaIt was just over six months ago that Stanislav Horuna, a karateka from the country of Ukraine was all smiles. He captured the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. This was the first time karate had been in the Games and to medal is such an honor. The gold medal in the World Cup, the bronze in the World Championships, and all the other medals seemed to lack luster in comparison to the Olympic medal. He was on top of the world as he represented his country with pride and a massive smile on his face as he gave interviews about his win and how great it was to represent Ukraine.

Then, six months later on February 24th, Russia invaded Ukraine and launched a full scale war that saw global condemnation of the larger country. The world stood behind Ukraine and it’s people. Many big names stayed. Think Horuna, Vitali and Wladimir Klitchko, Vasyl Lomachnko, Oleksandr Usyk, Yaroslav Amosov, all names that readers of this website will know. But, despite the victories that Ukraine and the people have had, the toll of war is still great and costly to an incredible degree.

This interview with Stanislav Horuna isn’t about his karate background, it’s about giving up his medal earned at the Olympic Games, auctioning it off, to help with the costs of war. Horuna is simply doing his part, and while he may not know if he’s doing enough, he’s out there trying nonetheless. There isn’t any talk of karate in this interview, this is about humanity.

Stanislav Horuna: “It’s just a piece of metal.”

For years, Horuna has perfected his craft and it was finally rewarded to the highest degree when he won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games. It was a dream come true for a karateka who simultaneously saw the introduction of karate to the Games and the opportunity to compete. The value of the medal is said to be north of $10,000 USD, but to Horuna it’s more than that. It’s legacy for him and his family.

“[I have] different thoughts, different emotions. It’s a bit sad, of course, to realize you will not have this medal anymore. It’s a unique one, very rare. Event in the life of any athlete, medal is the dream. Usually this medal is so unique and so valuable for those who have it, you realize this is the medal that you can give to your son, the next generation. So this is like a family relic, this is a symbol of the sum of your some person in your family that he achieve the top. This is an inspiring thing that is nice to have in your life. It’s not like a medal from the European Championships or the World Championship, or any other competition. This is something special. It stays with you for the rest of your life.”

But, legacy only matters if you have a life and country to be proud of. He won the medal for Ukraine and with the takeover attempt from Russia, Stanislav Horuna knows that fighting for his country means more than having a medal to give to his son, his grandson, and at the end of the day, he still went out and won the medal.

“On the other hand, it’s just a piece of metal. Even to get it is, if you are not an athlete, you cannot imagine how difficult it is to get this medal. How many competitions, tournaments, preparations, injuries, conflicts, you have to pass through to get there and win. But, the time we have now is critical and it’s a question of priorities and, of course, my country has more importance than my medal. As our economy is paralyzed and Ukrainian people need to provide financial tolls to our national army and to support people, medicine, everything necessary, so that’s what we’re trying to do in these hard times. Luckily we have big, huge international support. People from all over the world are on our side. We are all together and we succeed in raising money and that’s how we still keep fighting. If we didn’t have support from people from other countries, I guess we wouldn’t be able to stand against the Russians.”

International Support for Ukraine

With the war raging on, the entire world, with the exception of a few countries, has condemned Russia’s actions against the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Rest assured that your cries about everything, every post, article, every tweet, every single word muttered about the situation in Ukraine is held in perpetual gratitude by the Ukrainian people. They see it, they hear it, and it motivates them to keep on fighting a seemingly impossible fight.

“The whole world is united against one common evil, one common enemy. The whole civilized world sees the truth and what’s going on. They understand that this is unreasonable. There is no sense in doing this. Even if Russia succeed in conquering Ukraine, what will they do with this territory? They destroy everything. They kill and they destroy totally. It’s burned land after then. Why do they need it after this? There is no sense in what they do. They just kill. They just rape, destroy and murder. Everyone understands this, that’s why we have support with weapons, with medicine, with money, with volunteer help, everything we need. Even people they don’t just support us financially or with words, they come here and fight for us. Many Americans, Europeans, Japanese people, from the whole world. Whoever can fight, they fight, whoever can be useful in medicine, they serve here. They all help us. That’s incredible with what’s going on right now. Not only our nation is united as never before, but the whole world is with us and the whole world is united with one idea. This is amazing to watch. I guess this war is and will be world changing in the meaning of international security, defense and cooperation. After the second World War, all of the protocols and agreements to keep the stability and the world peace, and now they will be updated and I hope they will be more successful and impactful so this will never happen again.”

As for Russia’s reason, the thought that Ukraine is rife with Nazis and needs liberation is laughable. When asked about it, Stanislav Horuna doesn’t blame the people of Russia, he knows this evil is perpetuated by the government led by Vladimir Putin and his men. He talks of how these accusations have come Ukraine’s way for years and now that there is action on said accusations, a lot of the people do not know any better.

Horuna laughed at the sentiment saying, “It’s 100% ridiculous. It’s just absurd. Nazis in Ukraine, it’s like Marvel’s heroes, they are not real. They are imaginary. But Russian people, they were told for years about Nazis in Ukraine they didn’t care what was going on here because it doesn’t influence their lives. They didn’t check this information. They just keep it for granted. Now, when the conflict is open, they believe this is true. They are like informationally insulated from the rest of the world. They cannot compare the information. They just have one source of information. They’re actually blind.” Continuing on, Stanislav Horuna says, “If their president tells them something, they believe it. The first information they accept, they continue to believe in this and they cannot change their minds. It doesn’t matter what we tell them, nothing can be changed.”

Stanislav Horuna to defend what’s his

For his country, Stanislav Horuna is ready to do whatever he needs to do to to fight for what is right. He lives in Lviv, where he was born, and the war has mainly stayed away. Lviv, which is in Western Ukraine, has been shielded from the carnage of the war which has primarily taken place in the eastern part of the country, and Kiev, the capital of Ukraine in the north. But, Stanislav Horuna says he sees the costs. The refugees seeking shelter in Lviv have spoken with him about the horrors of war. But if the war approaches, Horuna knows what he has to do, even if he doesn’t want to, he must fight for his country.

“I am in Lviv, I am staying in my home. Yesterday I was patrolling all day and all night. Now I am at home trying to recover and tomorrow we will continue patrolling.” On the damage, Horuna says, “My city is located in the West of Ukraine and it’s relatively safe here. What I can see from here is, of course, news and refugees from other cities. They come here and I talk with them, I talk with soldiers, military guys, volunteers from other cities, international volunteers. That’s my source of information. Of course, I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m sometimes mad about what I hear and what I see. But I can’t do nothing. The only thing I can is I volunteer. I do some informational campaign using my Instagram account. I’m giving interviews to international media to tell them what’s going on here. I don’t know how much I do, but I’m trying to do what I can. Here, I help people also. I’m trying to be useful. Of course, if Russian army, together with Belarusian army, comes here to my city in the Western Ukraine, I will be forced to fight here, and of course, I will be forced to kill invaders.”

As mentioned at the top of the article, major stars, and many from the world of combat sports like boxing and MMA, have stayed to fight the Russian invasion in their home country of Ukraine. For Horuna, it’s not an Olympian staying to fight or a heavyweight World Champion, it’s just Ukrainians who are staying to fight their country. They all have their professions, but at the end of the day, they’re all Ukrainian.

“From the feedback I get in my social medias like Facebook and Instagram, feedback is positive and people are happy that they are not alone. And public people, they stay with them, and this gives them confidence in our victory. I think that’s our responsibility to stay with the people and support them. Just to be with them is enough. We are part of those people, we are one nation. You can’t leave. If you leave, you will be empty inside. This is what your life consist of: your people, your surrounding, your environment, your country, your ideology, the mentality, it’s all part of you. If you leave this, you will be empty. I don’t know how it’s possible to start a new life. You can, of course, maybe it will be comfortable if you have resources, but this stays with you for the rest of your life. You will be empty, you will be eating yourself from the inside. You will regret it. This is what I can’t let happen with me and my country. That’s why I am here. I help my people, I try to be useful. I try to show to the world what’s going on here to get the support that we need so much now.”

A Shining Example of Hope: Volodymyr Zelensky

In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, early Monday, March 21, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

The biggest talking point for the Ukrainian side of the conflict for Western media has been that of Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine. When offered a way out of the country at the start of the war, Zelensky famously said, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” Stanislav Horuna admits he was not convinced with Zelensky as a potential president at the time of elections. But now, with what he’s shown as a leader for his people, it will be a hard out to get anyone else in there next election cycle.

“During the elections, I didn’t support him. Me, as many other people, we were skeptical about him because he is a comedian by his profession. But not by his mental state and what’s inside him and he proved this in the critical situation. He showed the whole world what a big man he is. Everyone respects him and I’m sure with the next election, he will be our president again with probably 99% of people.”

Continuing on Zelensky, Stanislav Horuna says he’s seen a change in how Zelensky holds himself. He needs to be the strong leader that Ukraine needs and he’s risen to the occasion in all the best ways possible.

“We are lucky to have such a president. Honestly, he has changed in the last months. You can’t imagine. Totally another person. Before he was trying to play these politician games. But now, everything he says, how he looks, how he behaves is totally different. Now, he is a man. He speech is confident. He knows what to say, he speaks from himself, not what his advisors have told him to say. So it’s quite different person now. What we see, we like and we are ready to fight for him as well.”

Keep on Fighting

In a parting statement, Stanislav Horuna said that the rest of the world should take heed in how Ukraine is fighting. Horuna has had an amplified perspective during this war on the importance of his fellow man. He also asks for more help. He and his people know that time is the enemy of the Ukrainian people and asks for help to avoid just that.

With a long pause, Horuna had to dig deep. “Message, it’s not easy to tell the message to the world. People from different countries and places see the situation in a different way. But of course, what is important, I can say that your people’s lives are their highest value. What is important is always to stay together when a critical situation comes be sure there is somebody close to you that can give his life for yours and be sure you can do the same for other people around. When the situation is critical, it’s not a time for hypocrisy. This is what people should remember, even in the good times. What we have now, the people were decisive and effective in their positions and their actions and I think the government of other countries should be as decisive and effective as their people are in their support of Ukraine. If they support, please, support more active and more effectively. Because time plays not on our side and not for our profit and we have limited resources. We need to stop this as soon as possible.”

And in a message to his people, Stanislav Horuna says they already have the message. They will win, they will rebuild and they will prosper. The cost of war is still steep, but those lives lost are the reason to keep fighting.

“For our people, what can I say? They know everything. They need to stand to the last minute, to the last sigh. We stay together to support each other. Everything is going to be fine. The time will come and we will rebuild everything we lost. We will make it even better than before. The only regret is the people that we cannot get back to life.”

If you want to support Stanislav Horuna by bidding on the Olympic medal click this hyperlink to be directed to the eBay auction. Even if you cannot afford to bid on the item, please share it out on social media. The more people see this, the more help Ukraine will get. If you wish to donate in other ways, you can fill out this form and wire money directly to Horuna and his people and they will get it where the money is needed focusing on saving lives and providing medicine.

Thank you for reading, and godspeed to Ukraine.

Stanislav Horuna, Ukrainian, Ukraine

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