Following a weekend in which he was enshrined into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Roy Jones Jr. says he is looking to do what it takes to help WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is imprisoned in Russia at the moment.
Griner, who played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Premier League during the WNBA offseason, was detained after customs service officials said they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport in February. The customs service also released a video of an individual at the airport who appears to be Griner going through security.
A criminal case has been opened into the “large-scale transportation of drugs, which can carry a sentence of up to 10 years behind bars in Russia,” according to The New York Times. ESPN’s TJ Quinn reported that a judge had denied a request to move Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, to home detention. Since then, several athletes have come together and tried convincing politicians to return Griner to the US
MORE: Why Russia is holding Mercury star in custody and how the WNBA has reacted
Jones has dual citizenship in the United States and Russia. He often visits Russia for business and was granted citizenship in 2015. The multi-divisional champion fought four times in Russia during his career. He spoke to Cynthia Conte and Jeandra LeBeauf on the Best Women’s Boxing Show PERIOD podcast about his potential plans to help Griner.
“Right now, everyone’s in an uproar about the same thing I’ve been in an uproar about and that’s Brittney Griner,” Jones stated, via Boxing Scene. “I have a friend in Miami and tried to tell the United States [government]… there’s a thing they want to do is make a [prisoner] swap. They’re willing to make a swap for Brittney Griner if the United States government will get involved. I have people in this country who spoke to her lawyers so that they can get her home from her. I hope that they pay attention.
“I’m willing to do whatever I got to do, even if I got to put my life on the line and go over there myself, and try to swap and go get her, I’m willing to go do that.”
In May, the United States considered Griner to be “wrongfully detained” by the Russian government. The prisoner Jones referred to in the exchange would be Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms smuggler and dealer, by Forbes.
MORE: Brittney Griner detainment in Russia timeline
Jones’ relationship with Russia has not been without some controversy. As a result of his dual citizenship, Ukraine banned Jones from entering the country. Wladimir Klitschko, the former heavyweight champion who joined Jones in the Hall of Fame this weekend, called him out in his speech. Currently fighting against Russian aggression with his brother Vitali, Wladimir sent a video thanking everyone for his induction of him. He also discussed Jones’ history with Russia. That part of his speech from him was taken out during the induction ceremony.
“There is one person for whom I have a real question,” Klitschko stated. “One person broke Ukrainian law by going to the occupied peninsula of Crimea through Russian territory. That person is Roy Jones.
“So, Roy, whose side are you on? On the side of the aggressor, or on the side of the defender of its right to live. I respect you as a fighter, but I really question your moral compass.”
Thank you, fans and officials.
When I was 14 and started my journey in boxing I’ve never dreamed of being among all these champions in the HOF.
All of us here have a huge responsibility. It is up to us to build the future of boxing.
— Klitschko (@Klitschko) June 11, 2022
Griner played her entire college career with Baylor. She won the NCAA Championship in 2012. The first overall pick by the Mercury in 2013, Griner is a seven-time WNBA All-Star. Griner won the WNBA Finals in 2014.
A 1988 silver medalist in the Olympics, Jones won gold in the middleweight and super-middleweight divisions. He became undisputed light-heavyweight champion in 1999. Ending his career on a four-fight win streak, Jones has a 66-9 record.
MORE: Klitschko brothers Vitali and Wladimir ‘united against aggression’ in Russia-Ukraine conflict
Jones believes something can be done about Griner and that his dual citizenship helps.
“I catch a lot of criticism for things I’ve done in the past. I love boxing and sports. I became a dual citizen in the US and in Russia because of my boxing accolades and they love boxing over there,” Jones went on to say. “That’s why it’s good to have some kind of sports relationship with people. It goes beyond the political stuff… I hope that the United States will back me on it and make something happen to get her home.
“I’m trying my best just because—not my political, I don’t do hot takes—but because of my sports awareness around the world. Because of my personality as a sportsman, they’re willing to talk to me about another sportsperson.”