Vitali Klitschko has already dominated the boxing world en route to becoming one of the most decorated heavyweight fighters of the modern era. Now he's looking to do the same in his native Ukraine—as a politician.
In discussions with World Boxing Council president Jose Sulaiman, Klitschko revealed plans to run for the nation's presidency in 2015, according to a statement released on Wednesday, Aug. 15.
"Vitali explains that he wants to keep participating in politics and run for the presidency of his country the Ukraine in 2015," the WBC's statement said.
UPDATE: Sunday, Sept. 8, at 2:05 p.m. ET
Mike Dawes of the Daily Mail confirms that Vitali Klitschko is still considering another fight:
Klitschko expects to get back in the ring for what could well be a finale contest and would have no qualms about taking on Haye.
Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme, Klitschko said: 'I think I will box again.
'My brother showed David Haye a very good fight, with a very good result.
'Let's see. Why not? But at the moment, I don't want to talk about major plans.
'I have an official contender (to fight), everything depends on the World Boxing Council.'
---End of update---
If the WBC's statement has veracity, Klitschko will become the first known challenger of incumbent president Viktor Yanukovych. The 63-year-old Yanukovych assumed office in 2010 after defeating Yulia Tymoshenko, becoming the Ukraine's fourth president. He previously served as the country's Prime Minister from 2002 to 2007.
A nation with a political structure still in flux, Ukraine has multiple parties in opposition to the one currently in power. According to a Reuters report, Klitschko, 42, began in politics in 2005 by running in the mayoral race in Kiev, though he lost. He also established the UDAR opposition party, which takes a pro-Western slant and has increasingly become one of the Ukraine's most powerful parties.
While Klitschko has never held a major political office, his momentum in the race is said to be strong. Per the Reuters report, Klitschko and Yanukovych both have 16 percent support levels from citizens. According to Sulaiman's meeting with Klitschko, the boxing legend wants to be part of a larger movement.
From the WBC statement:
[Klitschko] stressed what's much more important than one person being president, is to improve the lives of Ukrainians with a more efficient economy, modernization, more jobs and better opportunities for the future.
Klitschko was said to reveal these plans to Sulaiman during a meeting in Mexico to discuss his return to the boxing ring. The WBC heavyweight champion is due to fight No. 1 challenger Bermane Stiverne, but he has been rendered unable due to a hand injury. In the WBC's statement, Klitschko's hand is said to be "swollen and puffy," and that surgery is an option if therapy does not work.
The organization has the right to strip Klitschko of his title if he's unable to make his mandatory title defense. ESPN's Dan Rafael has reported, however, that no decision will be made at least until the first quarter of 2014.
Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) has not defended his title since defeating Manuel Charr last September. He has not commented officially on his run for the presidency, or on when (or if) he will defend his title against Stiverne.
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