From boxing world champion to the mayor of Kiev

Being a professional sportsman is not an everyday lifestyle. Your body is your work instrument, and you cannot use it indefinitely. According to the sport’s popularity and the level at which the athlete is playing, the salary can differ. For most sports, athletes have to retire between 35 and 45, and it can be even before getting injured. Some players cannot leave the rest of their lives without finding a reorientation after retirement. But most of the best athletes, even if they are well paid, do not want to just lie on their couch for the rest of their life.

They keep working in the same sporting environment, either as coaches, like Zinedine Zidane or Steve Kerr, or working in media as a consultant, like Shaquille O’Neal or Samir Nasri. If they are worldwide known, they can also use their name to create consumption products as Michael Jordan did. But there is also the rare case of sportsmen reorienting in really different professions. The brothers Klitschko are one of the best examples of this reorientation.

Vitali and Wladimir were born in Ukraine during the 70s, sons of a Soviet Air Force major general. Their father started teaching them how to fight to defend themselves from other kids. Even if education was the most important thing for the Klitschko family, boxing was significant in the brother’s childhood. Being the older brother, Vitali had to take care of his brother early and all the time, given that their parents were working a lot. In addition to their innate impressive silhouette, their father taught them severity and discipline. Starting in life with these tools, they could have been great in barely every sport, but their education and mindset directed them to fighting sports. They started kickboxing training even if it was not legal in USSR at this time.

The main difference between the two brothers is that Vitali was a born boxer, and Wladimir became one. They would say that they were unique boxers. Even if only one of the two brothers was in the ring, they were two fighters against the opponent. Vitali, already known as “Dr. Ironfist,” began his professional heavyweight career in 1996 after an amateur record of 195 wins, 15 losses, and 80 knockouts. He won his first 24 professional fights by either early technical knockouts. He became world champion in 1999 by knocking out his opponent in the second round of his 25th fight. His brother, Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko, followed him and won two world titles almost in the same time-lapse. Vitali won another title before retiring in 2005 because of injuries. He made his comeback in 2007 and recovered his title in his first fight. The Klitschko brothers led the heavyweight division until 2013, before Vitali retired at 42.

The Klitschko brothers have always been concerned about their country and Ukrainian citizens. Each of the brothers has a Ph.D., which is why they are called Dr. Ironfist and Dr. Steelhammer. They can also speak at least four different languages. When Wladimir decided to focus on teaching and working on his NGO after his boxing retirement, Vitali became a deputy in 2012 to fight injustice and corruption. Then he won the Kiev mayoral elections in 2014. His professional boxing career helps him to stay calm in every situation. In a country where people care a lot about strong men, he is really respected because of his silhouette and boxing records. That helped him to be respected by most of Kiev’s citizens. Vitali Klitschko is now really implicated in the defense of Kiev since the war against Russia started.

The Klitschko brothers didn’t choose the most effortless lifestyle, but their choices can be an inspiration. Especially for teenagers who are stressing about their adult life, the problem of finding a job for their whole life. Vitali and Wladimir showed us that you could have many different lives even with nothing in common. So their lives and choices can be seen as an example for all sportsmen and people.

Joaquim Renaud

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