By John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Ukrainian heavyweight boxing legend and current Mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, was presented with the Arthur Ashe Award For Courage Wednesday night at the 2022 ESPY awards.
Known as “Dr. Ironfist” during his boxing career, where he amassed a glittering record of 45-2 with 41 wins coming by way of knockout–an 87.23% KO percentage–Vitali and his younger brother Wladimir dominated the boxing world for over a decade. Vitali held both the WBO and WBC world titles, and was named “Eternal World Heavyweight Champion” by the latter organization.
Remarkably, in 2008, Klitschko came back from a retirement of over three years due to an injured knee to regain the WBC title strap by making Samuel Peter retire on his stool. Having lost just two matches, both due to injuries, before his initial retirement from boxing, Vitali would remain undefeated during the utterly dominant second phase of his career.
After retiring from boxing for the second time in 2013 at the age of 42, Vitali Klitschko found a second career in politics, becoming the Mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, in 2014.
Both Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko have been back in the headlines of late for their bravery as they battle against the Russian invasion of their country. Actor Dwayne Johnson, accepting the award on Klitschko’s behalf, called Vitali “a man who will tell you very plainly, that sports is part of the reason he is where he is.”
“Vitali is a hero, who has shown the world what courage truly looks like,” Johnson added.
The ESPY award, named for African-American tennis great Arthur Ashe, recognizes those who find ways through sports to make a difference far beyond the field.
A video of Klitschko’s life story played during the broadcast, and retold his journey from heavyweight boxing champion to mayor of Kyiv.
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