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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora