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The four-time kickboxing world champion Vitalii Merinov, of Ukrainian nationality, died this week in hospital as a result of injuries sustained while fighting Russian forces occupying his country in the eastern region of Luhansk, Ukrainian media reported today.

Merinov had enlisted in the Ukrainian army as a volunteer just after the Russian military began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24 last year.

After being wounded in the leg, the athlete from the Ivano-Frankivsk region of western Ukraine returned to the front and continued fighting until he was mortally wounded.

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His loss has been confirmed by the mayor of the city of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ruslan Martsinkiv, who reported that the four-time world champion was married and had a two-year-old daughter.

According to Ukrainian authorities, at least 262 athletes have died as a result of Russian military aggression against Ukraine, one of Kiev's arguments for calling for the exclusion of Russian athletes from the next Olympic Games to be held in 2024 in Paris.

According to The Trust Project criteria

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