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US-born boxer, freshly minted Russian citizen Kevin Johnson to work as coach - promoter

Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree granting Russian citizenship to the athlete

MOSCOW, January 9. /TASS/. US-born heavyweight boxer Kevin Johnson, who earlier today was made a Russian citizen by presidential decree, intends to work as a coach at an Olympic training center in Samara as soon as he is formally registered as a resident of the Volga River city, Russian boxing promoter Vladimir Khryunov told TASS on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree granting Russian citizenship to Johnson.

"Kevin [Johnson] will now be officially registered as a resident of Samara, where he will have his own apartment," Khryunov said. "He will be working there as a coach at the Olympic training center, where he will have an official position."

Johnson, 44, had filed an application to receive Russian citizenship in September 2023, and his representative later disclosed that the athlete decided to take a Russian patronymic, or middle name, in honor of Putin, thus officially becoming Kevin Vladimirovich Johnson in his Russian identity document.

The US-born pugilist told TASS last year that, if granted Russian citizenship, he wanted to live in Samara, a central Russian city on the Volga River. Russian boxing promoter Khryunov told TASS at that time that Johnson had applied for a mortgage to purchase a residential property in Samara.

Asked by a TASS correspondent today whether the American-born boxer intended to surrender his US passport, Khryunov said: "What Kevin needs to do right now is to obtain his Russian [internal] passport, his Russian foreign travel passport, and other documents." (All Russian citizens have both an "internal" passport, which serves as their primary ID, and a "foreign" passport for traveling abroad - TASS.)

"But, as regards surrendering his US passport, this already involves follow-on steps that need to be taken gradually without any haste," the promoter said. "He [Johnson] does not need his American passport, as nothing lies ahead for him in the United States."

Khryunov also disclosed that Johnson planned to compete in a boxing match in February under the national flag of Russia.

"Kevin will hold his next fight in February. It will be his inaugural bout under the national flag of Russia," Khryunov told TASS without specifying any potential date or opponent for the February bout.

Born in the state of New Jersey and known as the "Kingpin," Johnson boasts a career record of 36 wins (20 by KO), 22 defeats (three by KO) and two draws in his 60 professional boxing bouts.

In December 2009, he challenged Ukrainian boxer Vitali Klitschko for the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight title belt, but eventually lost, while becoming only the second boxer to manage to go all 12 rounds in the ring against the famous Ukrainian fighter, who has retired from professional sports and now serves as mayor of Kiev.

In October 2017, Johnson won the International Boxing Organization (IBO) championship belt by defeating Italy’s Francesco Pianeta, but failed to defend his title the following year against Croatia’s Petar Milas.