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Roy Jones Jr. Granted Russian Citizenship: Latest Comments and Reaction

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2015

FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with American boxer Roy Jones Jr. in Sevastopol, Crimea. Vladimir Putin has given Russian citizenship to former world heavyweight boxing champion Roy Jones Jr. A decree published on the Kremlin's website in the Russian president's name Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 said the American, a four-weight champion once regarded by many as the world's best boxer, had been given Russian nationality. Jones asked Putin for citizenship in August over a cup of tea when they met in Crimea — the territory annexed by Russia last year — saying it would make doing business in Russia much easier. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, file)
Alexei Nikolsky/Associated Press

Boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. has become a citizen of Russia thanks to a decree from President Vladimir Putin. 

Matt Bonesteel of the Washington Post, citing a decree from the Kremlin's official website, reported Jones' new Russian citizenship. 

According to the Associated Press, via ABCNews.com, Jones met with Putin in August and asked to become a Russian citizen in order to build a better business relationship with the nation. 

"Putin said this would be possible if Jones planned to spend a significant part of his life in Russia," the AP report said, "while the boxer said he hoped sport could help 'build a bridge' between the U.S. and Russia."

Included in the AP report is a quote Jones provided to R-Sport, a news agency in Russia, about his plans to ingratiate himself with the country. 

"I want to speak so well in Russian that people understand me without any problems," Jones told R-Sport. "I think that'll take about a year. I hope that next year I'll already be speaking like a Russian."

In addition to Jones planning to learn Russian, he said he intends to develop new boxing schools in the country. 

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Jones has spent time training Russian boxers in recent years, including Fedor Chudinov prior to a fight last September. The 46-year-old continues to compete in the sport himself, most recently defeating Eric Watkins in August. 

Boxing is a huge sport in Russia, with a star like Sergey Kovalev continuing to rise through the ranks, so having Jones try to serve as a connection between that country and the United States in sports could bring more prominence to the sport in this country.  

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