Accessibility links

U.S. Boxing Champ Requests Russian Citizenship After Putin Meeting

U.S. boxer Roy Jones Jr. officially requested Russian citizenship one day after drinking tea with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Crimea.

Russian state TV showed Jones filling out an application for citizenship in the Crimean naval port of Sevastopol on August 20.

Jones, 46, was the world champion in four different boxing weight classes.

He has since branched out into rap music and acting, and was in Crimea to appear at a boxing show on August 23.

Jones told Putin during their meeting on August 19 that if he had a Russian passport "it would be a lot easier for me to come and go, because people love sport here, and so I love this place."

Putin responded that Russia "would be glad and will fulfill your request to receive Russian citizenship with pleasure" if Jones would link "a significant part" of his life to activities in Russia.

Jones -- who will keep his U.S. citizenship -- said he hoped sport could help "build a bridge" between the United States and Russia.

Tensions have flared to Cold War levels since last year when Russia forcibly took possession of Crimea from Ukraine.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and Interfax