Vitali Klitschko: Unappreciated In The Ring – And In World Affairs


By Sean Crose

You’re not hearing much about former heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko these days, at least not in America. Oh, sure, there have been reports and articles in major outlets about the “former boxer” who’s “running for President.” Only The Daily Beast, however, has given Dr. Ironfist the stateside attention his recent activities have warranted.

Klitschko, in case you don’t know, gave up his share of the heavyweight title pie recently in order to fight a larger political battle in his native Ukraine. For President Viktor Yanukovych had designs on getting the nation in bed with Russia and its strongman leader, Vladimir Putin.

In brief – the people (or at least a great many of them) subsequently rose up…and Klitschko led them. He led them in protests, through riots and at the negotiating table. You may not be an expert on Ukranian politics (this author certainly isn’t), but you have to note Klitschko’s courage. And the fact that his achievements are now being overlooked in certain quarters – namely American ones.

Even now, when Yanukovych has been toppled and the Ukraine faces an exceedingly uncertain future, Klitschko is still not in the spotlight. Why is that? The man was the WBC heavyweight boxing champion of the entire world. Truth is, he still would be if he hadn’t decided to put on the figurative tri corner hat. Imagine if Derek Jeter had done what Klitschko has. Or LeBron James.

Perhaps America’s newsrooms are downplaying or ignoring the Klitschko angle because boxing is no longer approved of in polite society here in the states. Or perhaps it’s because Klitschko the fighter is viewed by American boxing fans as being boring to the point of irrelevance inside the ring.

Indeed neither of the Kltischko brothers fight in a style we Yanks like. One American fan perhaps said it best when he claimed there’s nothing explosive about either man. We Americans like explosiveness in the ring, after all, whether it pertains to power or to an impressively slick style.

No matter. Klitschko isn’t getting the attention he should be getting now and that reflects poorly on our media. The heavyweight division Klitschko ruled over may not have been challenging (boxing, like all sports, has its ebbs and flows), but the obstacles the man has recently faced in his home country have certainly been enormous.

Look at it this way:

The guy had it all and he gave it up to put his life at risk. He had a lot of money, and a lot of fame (especially in Europe). He also had reached a level of expertise that, although unappreciated, was inarguably the best in the world for his weight class (is there anyone in the heavyweight division, even now, who could take him in the ring?).

What’s more, who’s to say Klitschko will even emerge from all this alive? Who’s to say this wife won’t end up a widow? Or that their three children won’t end up without a dad? The guy’s put a lot on the line here. A whole lot. It’s one hell of a story – and the media is there to shine light on the stories that impact the world we live in. At least it’s supposed to.

Ultimately, one gets the feeling there may be a bit of laziness on the part of America’s reporters regarding Klitschko. When they’ve actually written about him, for instance, they’ve made little of his ring dominance. He’s merely been presented as a “boxer” or as a “titlist.” Clearly the journalists behind these pieces aren’t fight fans.

And that’s fine. A reporter’s job, however, is to search for fresh angles, to get to the story behind the story. And, so far, our reporters have failed in a big way as far as Klitschko and the current Ukranian tumult are concerned.

Let’s hope they start stepping it up.

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