News / Europe

Ukraine Boxing Superstar Prepares for City Hall Arena

Ukraine Boxing Superstar Prepares for City Hall Arenai
X
Anita Powell
June 25, 2014 3:32 PM
Vitaliy Klitschko is recognized as a Ukrainian icon for his incredible boxing prowess. But the heavyweight hero says he dreams of a different legacy, as the cleanest, most progressive mayor the city of Kyiv has ever had. He has put his pugilistic pursuits behind him, but says he plans to knock out corruption and clean up this city, in more ways than one. In Kyiv, VOA's Anita Powell caught up with Klitschko to hear how he is making the transition from "Dr. Ironfist" to "Mr. Mayor."
Anita Powell

Vitaliy Klitschko is recognized as a Ukrainian icon for his incredible boxing prowess. But the heavyweight hero says he dreams of a different legacy, as the cleanest, most progressive mayor the city of Kyiv has ever had. He has put his pugilistic pursuits behind him, but says he plans to knock out corruption and clean up this city, in more ways than one. He's making the transition from "Dr. Ironfist" to "Mr. Mayor."

Vitaliy Klitschko has made history as a boxer. The two-meter-tall heavyweight won 41 of his 45 career fights by knockout, and has himself never been knocked down. At one point, he and his brother - both of whom vowed never to fight each other - held every single one of the world's major heavyweight titles.

But he's recently left the ring for a far more dangerous arena: City Hall.

On a recent June day, he led his first city council of Kyiv's 120 representatives.

Since being elected mayor of Ukraine's capital city in May, Klitschko's inherited a Kyiv that has been rattled - and also galvanized - by political protests earlier this year that unseated the allegedly corrupt former administration.

Klitschko played a pivotal role during those protests, supporting the cause in Kyiv's central square and urging the crowds to rise up against corruption.

Today, just weeks into his term, he's trying to put the pieces back together.

One of his main efforts now is also to clear central Kyiv of the detritus of the protests, which remains months later. Many protesters have settled in tents and have not heeded an earlier call from the mayor's office to clear the main square.

Kyiv City Hall, seen as a symbol of bad governance, was defaced and looted during the protests. Klitschko said he was relying on donations to repair the stately, historic building. He said it would cost about $340,000 - cash the city just doesn't have.

Even as mayor, he is still a showman at heart, obliging journalists with countless requests for photo opportunities and answering questions without reserve.

In return, local journalists have shadowboxed around him, avoiding difficult, possibly alienating questions about his business connections. His estimated worth is about $65 million, much of it thought to be honestly earned through boxing, though he opened a boutique hotel in Kyiv during the heydays of the corruption-ridden former administration.

He told VOA that his aim as mayor was to be transparent in a country with deep corruption issues. 

"It's a huge challenge in [every] way. But anyway, I have huge support from the people. People want clear, understandable rules. Rules of law, equal opportunity for business. [A] good chance for every Kyiv citizen, the citizens of the capital of Ukraine, for the future," he said.

He said he aspired to more glory - but it's not what one might expect from a heavyweight champ.

"I have this dream. Personal ambitions, as they say. To do so much good for the city that someday one of the Kyiv streets will have the name “Klitschko,” but not because of my sport merits. I will do everything for it and it's a big challenge, which would be really hard to accomplish in today’s situation," he said.

This thoughtful, business-minded Klitschko may come as a surprise to his heavyweight opponents, who know him by his extremely unsubtle ring name, "Dr. Ironfist."

Dr. Ironfist brutally vanquished his opponents with robotic efficiency and a walloping right hand. But Mr. Mayor, looking over his damaged city from above, knows this fight will not be so easy.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs