*Roy Jones Jr. is officially a citizen of Russia.
The Associate Press reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the former world heavyweight boxing champion Russian nationality Saturday (Sept. 12) via a decree published on the Kremlin’s website in his name.
Jones’ new Russian status comes after he requested citizenship from Putin in August after meeting in Crimea, saying the action would it much easier to do business in Russia.
The AP notes Putin saying that citizenship would be possible for Jones if he planned to spend a significant part of his life in Russia. For his part, Jones mentioned that he hoped boxing would serve as a vehicle that could “build a bridge” between the U.S. and Russia.
Jones, a four-weight division champion, was regarded by many as the world’s best boxer back in the day. In the last five years, the 46-year-old athlete has competed three times in Russia. His most recent bouts included knocking out Egyptian fighter Hany Atiyo last year in Krasnodar.
With the decree published, Jones is now focused on learning the Russian language as he mentioned his plans to the Russian news agency R-Sport.
“I want to speak so well in Russian that people understand me without any problems,” Jones said. “I think that’ll take about a year. I hope that next year I’ll already be speaking like a Russian.”
In addition to learning Russian, Jones’ plans include wanting to “earn two or three billion dollars” as well as open boxing schools in Russia and develop his rap career.
Although he’s no longer based in America, Jones admits that he still wants to capture a world title and has no plans to give up boxing. In the meanwhile, Jones is keeping himself active with working as a trainer for Russian fighters. Among the fighters he’s started working with are unbeaten WBA super middleweight champion Fedor Chudinov and his brother, ex-WBA interim middleweight champion Dmitry Chudinov.