SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Former heavyweight world boxing champion Roy Jones Jr. met with President Vladimir Putin Wednesday for a brief meeting in Sevastopol, Crimea, and asked the Kremlin leader for Russian citizenship.
The 46-year-old boxer and rapper arrived to be a special guest in the boxing show The Battle of Mount Gasfort that will take place this weekend, Russia Today reported.
Jones underscored it would be easier to do business in Russia if he had a Russian passport. Putin said that Russian fans would be thrilled to see the WBC ex-champion for shows and other events, and promised to help Jones if he spends enough time in Russia.
"You were highly successful in boxing - like no one else... I don't think there have been any others like you in the world. I hope you will succeed in business here in Russia," Putin said. "If you intend to tie a significant part of your life to activities in Russia, we will, of course, be happy and we will gladly grant your request for Russian citizenship," he added.
"That is why I want to come here. That is why I'm also here," replied Jones. "Because I want to ask you about maybe having a passport to go back and forth so that I can do business here. Because all the people here seem to love Roy Jones Jr. And I love when people love me."
On Thursday, Jones filled in an application seeking Russian citizenship in Yalta, Interfax reported.
Before signing the application, the boxer said sports can help build bridges between Russia and the United States.
Jones is the latest in a line of high-profile figures to meet with Putin.
"I met him a couple of times and he was a real gentleman, a very cool regular guy, looked me right in the eye. I think he is a good guy," Rourke told reporters.
Steven Seagal also performed a concert in Crimea in August, 2014.
French actor Gerard Depardieu became a Russian citizen in January 2013 after abandoning his home country to avoid paying higher taxes.