A Kiev-born Tokyo 2020 Olympics gold medalist took to social media on Friday afternoon to explain racist abuse he suffered on the streets of the Ukrainian capital where he was told to “Go to Africa” and called a “black monkey”.
Zhan Beleniuk was born in the city to a Ukrainian mother and Rwandan father in 1991, and has already made history as the first black member of parliament in the country.
In his sporting trade, wrestling, he has also made a mark by winning silver at Rio 2016 and top honors in Japan earlier this month.
But still his achievements are not enough to be accepted by some in his homeland, with Beleniuk explaining on Facebook the hideous abuse he received from some members of the public this week.
“A few minutes ago, young men unknown to me approached me in the center of Kiev, [and] tried to provoke a conflict!,” he explained.
“[They were] shouting out abusive things like ′Black monkey knows something about patriotism?!’ and ‘Go to Africa!’.
“Thank God it didn’t come to a fight, so I’m okay but…,” he trailed off, then began to provide a list.
“1. I wonder, if I am Ukrainian for my state, what criteria exist in [this] patriotism?!”
“2. How safe can the Olympic champion feel in his homeland and in his hometown?!
“3. And is it normal in the European state to hear offensive things [said] to people who have given their lives to its glorification?!”
After receiving an outpour of sympathy, Belenuik later came back online to show gratitude towards those that had offered him kind words.
“Thank you to everyone who wrote words of support,” he began.
“[I have] received hundreds of calls, but no longer have the power to comment on anything. Everything is OK with me! I want to relax! [My] days upon arrival from Tokyo have really become very busy.”
Thanking a minister and the national police for a “prompt response”, he added that he loves his country which “gave me everything I have”.
“No one will make me go anywhere, and inadequates exist absolutely everywhere! Just sometimes they get in our way,” he concluded.