Former world heavyweight boxing champion, rapper and actor, Roy Jones Jr., has been granted Russian citizenship from president Vladimir Putin over the weekend.
ABC reported that Jones requested Putin for citizenship this August when the two met in Crimea over tea. Putin had responded saying that Jones could become a Russian citizen if he was considering spending a significant amount of time in the country.
A decree published in Putin’s name on the Kremlin website has confirmed the news that Jones is now officially a Russian citizen.
Many regard Jones as one of the best light-heavyweight boxers in the history of sports. Jones is now planning to open boxing schools in Russia and is also hoping to further develop his rapping career. He revealed his plans of earning two or three billion dollars in the time to come.
Jones plans to retain his US citizenship while utilizing his status as a sports icon to “build a bridge” between the two unfriendly countries.
Jones has plans of learning to speak Russian fluently within a year. The 46-year-old also mentioned that he feels more appreciated in Russia. He said, “I also felt appreciated in Russia. Maybe even a lot more that I was valued and appreciated in my own country.”
Jones also said that being in Russia makes him feel as popular as “Michael Jackson in America.” However, Jones’ decision has attracted heavy criticism in his home country. Social media has been buzzing with negative comments pertaining to the boxer’s decision.
In the past five years, Jones has competed three times on Russian soil. In his most recent fight, he knocked out Egyptian fighter, Hany Atiyo.
Jones is the only boxer in history who started off in the light middleweight category and later went on to grab a heavyweight title. Back in the 1990s, the Boxing Writers Association of America gave Jones the title of “Fighter of the Decade”
In his long-standing career, Jones has won many awards and garnered accolades. Jones launched his rapping career in 2001 with an album titled Round One: The Album.
Jones isn’t the only celebrity to have sought after a Russian citizenship. French actor and filmmaker, Gerard Depardieu, also became a Russian citizen in 2013. He is currently a registered resident in the city of Saransk.
Front-man of the U.S. music band Limp Bizkit, Fred Durst, has also revealed plans of seeking a Russian citizenship and purchasing a house somewhere in the country.
[Photo By: Rich Schultz/Getty Images Entertainment]