Ukrainian Boxing Phenomena
Brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko
With Video Clip from Vitali Klitschko vs Corrie Sanders

Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko

Wladimir and Vitali

Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko

The official Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko web site is at  www.klitschko.com

Vitali Klitschko
The younger Wladimir Klitschko was born on 25-Mar-1976, and is single.  He stands 6'7" (2.01 m) tall.  World rank is 12.  Although not yet having risen as high as his older brother, his career is just beginning, and he is not to be discounted.

The older Vitali Klitschko was born on 19-Jul-1971, is married, and has one son and one daughter.  He stands 6' 7.5" (2.02 m) tall.  World rank is 1.

Vitali Klitschko data can be found at www.boxrec.com/boxer_display.php?boxer_id=007033, Wladimir Klitschko data can be found at www.boxrec.com/boxer_display.php?boxer_id=007035, and world male heavyweight ratings can be found at www.boxrec.com/ratings.php.

Among the many titles that Vitali has won are Super Heavyweight Champion at the first Worldwide Military Games (Italy, 1995), the Super Heavyweight title at the Olympic games (Atlanta, USA, 1996), six kickboxing championships, and of course the World Boxing Council Heavyweight title (Los Angeles, 2004) described below.

When Vitali Klitschko beat South African Corrie Sanders (TKO in the 8th round) to win the World Boxing Council (WBC) Heavyweight title on 24-Apr-2004 before a crowd of 17,320 in Los Angeles, he made history by being the first world heavyweight champion to hold a PhD (in sports medicine and philosophy), eurosport.com describing Vitali as a "doctor of science in Ukraine and a professor of philosophy in Germany," and which helps explain his nickname Vitali "Dr. Ironfist" Klitschko.  Mayor of L.A. James K. Hahn was so delighted with Vitali that he officially proclaimed the date of his win "Vitali Klitschko Day."  Three days after his defeat, on 27-Apr-2004, Corrie Sanders announced his retirement from boxing.  As can be seen in the Klitschko-Sanders video clips below, Corrie Sanders demonstrated incredible courage and perseverance, continuing to attack even under devastating punishment.  Against anybody but Vitali Klitschko, Corrie Sanders would have been a formidable opponent.

After the Klitschko-Sanders bout, Vitali's lifetime record stood at 34 wins (33 by KOs) and 2 losses.

Responsible for one of these losses was the Black gentleman in the audience shown toward the end of the Klitschko-Sanders video below Lennox Lewis, who had beaten Vitali in Los Angeles on 21-Jun-2003 as follows.  Klitschko had been leading 58-56 on all three scorecards when the ringside doctor stopped the 12-round bout before the 7th round because of cuts around Klitschko's left eye.  Klitschko protested vehemently that he wanted to continue the fight, but to no avail, and Lewis was credited with a TKO.  In the months that followed, Lennox Lewis avoided a rematch, and on 06-Feb-2004 announced his retirement, making him only the third boxer in history to retire while still heavyweight champion, the previous two having done so while considerably younger than Lewis: Lennox Lewis was 38 when he announced his retirement, whereas world heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano had retired in 1956 at the age of 32, and Gene Tunney in 1928 at the age of 30.  Thirty-two is how old Vitali is now.  Thus, although Lennox Lewis cannot be said to have fled boxing while still young, he did leave at a time when Vitali Klitschko was importuning him for a rematch, such that it may be supposed that one of his motives was to never face Vitali in the ring again.

One wonders if Lennox Lewis's gloves were subjected to forensic examination after the bout to determine how they could have caused the cuts that Vitali suffered.

Responsible for the other of Klitschko's two losses had been Chris Byrd in Berlin on 01-Apr-2000.  Klitschko had torn the rotator cuff in his left shoulder early in the bout, nevertheless managing to dominate the fight until the end of the ninth round.  After the ninth round, however, Klitschko was experiencing severe pain, and recognizing the seriousness of his injury, he "quit on his stool," despite leading on all three judges' scorecards 89-82, 88-83, 88-83.  The injury to his shoulder later required surgical repair.  Kid brother Wladimir avenged Vitali's loss by beating Byrd on 14-Oct-2000.

Taking circumstances into account, it may be argued that although Vitali Klitschko has lost two bouts, he has never been outboxed.

Vitali Klitschko draped in Ukrainian flag after beating Corrie Sanders

Boxing commentators have noted with disapproval a detail of Vitali style that is evident in the Klitschko-Sanders video below that Vitali ignores technique fundamentals, as by dopping his hands to his sides when he judges they aren't immediately needed.  However, it is possible to see Klitschko method in this madness.  In the first place, Vitali seems well aware of punches that are being thrown at him, and does an uncanny job of moving his head out of their path usually by bending backwards, and sometimes by bending to the side or ducking.  If his hands had been up beside his face, undoubtedly he would sometimes be spared the trouble of relocating his head, and undoubtedly the hands would absorb some punches and he would be hit less.  But with his hands near his face, all that Vitali would be able to reply to an opponent who had attacked and who for a moment was vulnerable would be to jab, and even to jab through the attacking opponent's hands, whereas with his own hands low, he is able to muster the momentum for one of his ox-stunning roundhouses.

Although the Klitschko brothers currently work in Los Angeles, their biographies list their place of residence as Kiev, Ukraine.  The Klitschko-Sanders video below shows the blue-and-yellow flag of Ukraine draped over Vitali's shoulders after the fight.  Vitali is said to speak four languages: English, German, Ukrainian, and Russian.  The nine-letter "Klitschko" is pronounced like the seven-letter "Klichko," and happens to be written in Ukrainian with six letters because Ukrainian has a single letter representing the sound "ch".  What in English is a purposeless ts in the middle of Klitschko possibly resulted from the surname receiving its first transliteration from the Cyrillic to the Roman alphabet not by speakers of English, but by speakers of German who favor the more complex rendering, as for example when they write the surname Deutsch which contains the same "tsch" representing no more than the sound "ch".  "Wladimir" insted of "Vladimir" is possibly a sign of German influence too.  In the full broadcast of the Klitschko vs. Sanders fight, Vitali's coach can be heard addressing him between rounds in German.

The following scenes from Klitschko-Sanders, then, were originally published on the www.UkrainaTV.com web site, where a great deal of other valuable sports, music, and historical videos can be found.

Visitors who dislike boxing should not watch the Klitschko-Sanders video, although some visitors averse to violence but drawn to Ukrainian folk music may prefer to listen with eyes closed. The group performing is rock band V V VopliVidopliassova whose web site is at www.vopli.com.

Vitali "Dr. Ironfist" Klitschko before the fight

Corrie Sanders before the fight




Vitali Klitschko pummels Danny Williams and defends his WBC belt in a lopsided bout.  (AP)

Vitali Klitschko demolishes Danny Williams Saturday 11-Dec-2004 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Los Vegas with a TKO in the 8th round.  Williams' claim to fame was having beaten Mike Tyson on 30-Jul-2004.

CBS sportsline commented that "Klitschko retained his WBC heavyweight title in a lopsided fight that left Williams bloodied, battered and barely able to see.  Williams was taken to a local hospital for a brain scan after fight, while Klitschko also went to have X-rays taken of his swollen hands to see if they were broken from hitting Williams on the head so many times" 

The Klitschko brothers support the Viktor Yushchenko presidential candidacy in Ukraine, which is why Vitali appears after the fight in front of a "Yes! Yushchenko" banner.
Vitali Klitschko's support of Viktor Yushchenko is demonstrated more unequivocally by his wearing the Yushchenko campaign color orange throughout the fight.