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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora