Boxer Neeraj Goyat lends helping hand to students stuck in Ukraine

Moved by the plight of Indian students scrambling to get out of Ukraine after the Russian invasion, Indian professional boxer Neeraj Goyat is using his contacts in the war-hit country’s boxing circuit to assist those in distress.

Goyat, who has travelled extensively to compete but not in Ukraine, claims to have close friends in the country’s professional boxing circuit and he says they are coming in handy in helping students stranded in Lviv.

“Just this evening 32 students have been safely moved to Poland through a transport service that I managed to arrange through a local boxing contact Ostap (a boxing official). Another 14 are on their way to the Polish border from Lviv,” Goyat told PTI about his efforts.

The 30-year-old said he first formed a whatsapp group of “2-3 of his close contacts”, including a promoter and a logistics manager who have been involved in boxing competitions that he has been a part of.

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“The group has now grown to eight people and all I do is inform them of the requirements of students whenever there is an SOS call to me personally or through social media. There is immediate response from them in trying to arrange logistics,” he said.

“They have helped in guiding students to shelters and also arrange food for them,” added the boxer, who has widely shared images of students as they manage to flee the conflict on his social media pages.

The Indian government is also engaged in a frantic mission to evacuate the students, most of them studying medicine, and special flights are being arranged for them through neighbouring countries as Ukraine’s airspace remains closed.

“I had posted on Twitter asking anyone needing to help to reach out to me. There is a friend of mine who has set up a shelter near the Polish border in Lviv to help the distressed students. It’s about 70km from the border. It’s a long chain,” Goyat said.

Goyat is among the Indian boxers who have found success professionally. He has lost only twice in his 18 fights.

“I thought of helping after I got to know about the pain and fear in Ukraine through my contacts. It is good if I can be of any use,” he said.

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