The mayor of Ukraine’s capital since 2014, the previous heavyweight champion is a longtime outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin relationship again to the battle with Russia in 2013.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Vitali, alongside along with his youthful brother and fellow Corridor of Famer, Wladimir, has served as one of many faces of the resistance. The Klitschkos took up arms in a territorial protection battalion in Kyiv; star boxers Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk adopted swimsuit in different components of Ukraine.
“It’s a nice honor for me to obtain this award,” mentioned Klitschko, 50. “I’m satisfied that this can be a recognition of the braveness and inviolability of the Ukrainian folks, who’ve been bravely resisting the Russian aggressor for greater than 3 months. That is an award for everybody who defends the independence and freedom of Ukraine.”
The Klitschkos, sons of a Soviet main basic, developed their boxing abilities within the Soviet newbie system. Each are thought of all-time nice heavyweights. Vitali, recognized for his granite chin and unwavering toughness, loved two heavyweight title reigns.
However Vitali Klitschko is best-known for a battle he misplaced, an epic 2003 conflict with Lennox Lewis for the heavyweight crown. Klitschko, an underdog and late substitute, was forward on all three scorecards when the battle was stopped as a consequence of a ugly reduce over his left eye that required 60 stitches.
Negotiations for a rematch with Lewis stalled when the champion selected retirement. Klitschko received the title Lewis relinquished two fights later, in 2004, with an eight-round TKO of Corrie Sanders.
He first ran for mayor in 2006 after saying his retirement from boxing one yr earlier whereas nonetheless heavyweight champion. After 46 months away from the ring, he returned in December 2008 and regained the title in his comeback battle.
Throughout his second title reign, Klitschko made 9 defenses of the heavyweight championship. His last battle got here in 2012 at age 41. Klitschko’s solely losses got here when injured in fights he was profitable. He retired with a report of 45 wins (41 knockouts) and two losses. His 87% knockout ratio is among the greatest in heavyweight championship historical past.
Maybe extra impressively, he was by no means knocked down throughout his profession and infrequently misplaced a spherical. Earlier than his professional boxing debut in 1996 at age 25, Klitschko was a adorned kickboxer who received 4 world titles. He additionally impressed as an newbie boxer with 195 wins and 15 losses. Klitschko was elected to the Worldwide Boxing Corridor of Fame in 2018, his first yr of eligibility.
Exterior of boxing, Klitschko is the longest-serving mayor in Kyiv’s historical past. Weeks in the past, he spoke on the World Financial Discussion board in Switzerland, imploring the viewers that it will be a mistake to consider the influence of the conflict in Ukraine will not attain exterior its borders.
“Vitali’s poise and power as his metropolis and nation faces unfathomable exams have far surpassed the unbelievable resolve he demonstrated as one in all boxing’s high heavyweight champions,” mentioned Rob King, senior vice chairman and govt editor-at-large, ESPN Content material. “His dedication to the folks of Ukraine has been a world inspiration, and his bravery is a first-rate instance of the resilience of the human spirit. It’s our privilege to bestow him with the Arthur Ashe Braveness Award.”
Different Ashe Award honorees embrace fellow former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and boxing broadcaster Howard Cosell.