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Interview with Vitaly Klitschko

Vitaly Klitschko recently made a stunning boxing comeback by beating Samuel Peter and regaining the World WBC heavyweight title. He spoke exclusively to RT about his life in and outside the ring.

RT: Well many thanks for finding time to give us this interview. And my question is this. was it a difficult challenge for you to return to professional boxing?

Vitaly Klitschko: I announced my retirement. I had to do so because I got injured, and the World Professional Boxing Federation gave me only 30 days to recover.  But the doctor operating on my ligament injury gave me at least 90 days. After recovery, I consulted the doctors and had to undergo some medical tests, and I decided to resume my sports career and make the dream of the Klitschko brothers come true: to write our own boxing history into the record books. Beforehand both Klitschko brothers had never held the World championship titles at the same time, and we had been dreaming about it for a long time. And we did it.

RT: Well since you've mentioned it, you and your brother have collected four heavyweight titles already, and there is one more left. Did you discuss with Wladimir who will fight for the final belt? Right now the situation is pretty much unclear, who has it Chagaev or Valuev. But who’ll fight for it, you or Wladimir?

Vitaly Klitschko: Yes, we’ve talked about it, and decided to draw straws. But, seriously, we have an idea: at present, Chagaev is, so to say, a ‘temporary’ World Champion, and Valuev is the acting World Champion. No matter which one of them we have to fight, we have to win to add the World Championship belt to our collection. I hope that next year we’ll manage to gather all World belts in the Klitschko family. Everything is possible.

RT: Well, an interesting question: recently there was information that the legendary boxing promoter Don King has offered a hundred million US dollars for a fight between the two Klitschko brothers. Hypothetically, will this fight ever happen?

Vitaly Klitschko: My brother is the dearest person to me in the whole world.  I cannot imagine boxing against my brother. No money would be enough, even the sum of a hundred million dollars, it won’t become a stumbling block. We’re not only brothers, but we’re friends. I would never be able to box against my brother for money. Some things cannot be measured in financial terms.

RT: Well, I’ve seen a lot of sports grounds and schools that you and your brother have paid to have fitted out with latest equipment. . You’ve been doing a lot of charity work, but can you tell me what’s the most memorable project you and your brother have taken part in?

Vitaly Klitschko: Building schools in Namibia sticks in my memory. It’s a poor area where the tribes live like in the Middle Ages, but the civilization comes so close that teenagers have to choose either to die out or live in the gutter of civilization.  If you want to eat, you have to hunt – if you want to study you have to walk 10km to get to school, if you want to drink, again, you’ve got to struggle. And with those schools built, now children don’t need to wander through savanna. We’ve implemented this project together with UNESCO, and it’s the most memorable one. Soon, we’ll do something similar again in Namibia, and I want to take my son there. He’s nine years old. Living in the civilized world, we’re no longer grateful for all those benefits we have. Sometimes, it does you good to see the other side.

RT: Well, apart from boxing and your charity work, you’ve always been seen at different events and evenings. Now, you’ve been involved in politics for the last three years or so. What’s more difficult for you being a politician or a boxer?

Vitaly Klitschko: I’ve spent more than 20 years in boxing, and I’m a professional. I reckon that I know this sport in every detail – no mysteries for me here. Today I find it more challenging to be in politics. I’ve already mentioned that normal rules in Ukrainian politics do not apply. There are no holds barred there, in contrast to boxing with its set regulations. I keep asking myself: why do simple things which work in other countries, do not work in our country, for some reason? Why are we unable to implement the seemingly simplest ideas? Little progress is made. I’m convinced that my efforts, contacts, connections and the vision and experience I have can be useful to Ukraine. We shouldn’t work hard to get into Europe, Ukraine is already a European state, geographically.  We should implement European standards and values here. This is the main motivation why I’m investing my time and efforts into Ukrainian politics.

RT: Why do you think you are the only sporting person of this caliber in Ukrainian politics? Well, there’s Andrey Shevchenko and many others. Why aren’t they alongside you in Ukrainian politics?

Vitaly Klitschko: I won’t speak for Andrey Shevchenko. I never talked to him about this. Each must decide for himself, it must come from the heart. My brother Wladimir completely supports me in all I do. He’s now focused on his own activities. It takes up 100 per cent of his attention. We’ll see, maybe, Wladimir will also enter Ukrainian politics when his sports career is over. Or maybe he won’t. He has a strong desire to realize himself in acting, and he’s got talent. He might choose Hollywood – he’s already acted alongside Julia Roberts, Andrew Garcia and Brad Pitt in ‘Ocean’s Twelve’. Who knows, maybe, he’ll be able to conquer Hollywood.

RT: Well, you had quite a confident victory over Samuel Peter, but so far you haven’t been able to make a political knockout. When will we see a victory for Vitaly Klitschko in the political ring?

Vitaly Klitschko: You know, if we compare sports to politics, as you say, the situation is as follows. You put on boxing gloves, step into the ring, and …you see that your rival holds a crow bar. It can also be applied to this year’s mayoral elections in Kiev.  You act in compliance with publicly declared regulations. And your opponents use the kind of methods which you would never suspect have existed. Many voters came to polling stations and couldn’t find the name of Vitaly Klitschko on the list. It was not printed on the ballot for some reason. No, I don’t want to look like a poor loser, who complains that those scoundrels didn’t let him win. In such circumstances you either follow their rules or change them.

I’m not a temporary character in politics, I’m here to stay.  My aim is to make Ukraine a country with European standards of living. Much time must be spent to reach this goal. I’m sure it can’t be done in either two months or two years. So, time will tell.

RT: Well, you’re a young politician; your career is only gathering pace. Why is Ukraine experiencing political instability?

Vitaly Klitschko: According to Churchill, democracy is the worst form of government, but mankind hasn’t invented anything better. In my and many brothers’ view democracy a la Ukraine looks like anarchy. When we speak about corruption, it’s not a secret that Ukraine is among the most corrupt states. Unless corruption is suppressed, we won’t be able to talk about those high standards which we hear voiced from the parliamentary rostrum, TV and in newspapers every day. It’s an evolutionary process which we need to go through. It all depends on how quickly we’ll be able to do this.

RT: As far as I remember you and your brother took part in the Orange revolution three of four years ago. But there is a notion now in Ukraine  that many people have grown disillusioned with the outcome of the Orange revolution. Are you and your brother feeling the same?

Vitaly Klitschko: That’s true. There’s really great disappointment because many principles declared on Independence square, unfortunately, were not implemented into life. Many people feel they were deceived. They say sarcastically – the orange revolution was the revolution of millionaires against billionaires to change their places. It’s a joke only partially. That’s right, we have positive changes in freedom of speech, and a visa regime is also much easier with many European countries. However, the situation has not improved much. On the other hand, there’s more corruption, and it’s not a secret. It’s much more difficult to implement projects. The investments are growing, but all investors are blocked by the lack of proper legislation. Until we make the law equal for everyone and provide equality before the law to each citizen we won’t make any progress in building a civilized modern society.

RT: Is there any politician in Ukraine, in particular, you would challenge in the ring – not a political one, but a boxing one?

Vitaly Klitschko: I’ll tell you – I do have such a desire. Quite often when a politician proves black is white, or deceives people I feel like taking him to a ring and dealing with him like a man or at least pulling his ears. But this is only in my imagination. In reality, if it was possible to treat opponents in this way, Vitali Klitschko would be at ease in Ukrainian politics.