By: Sean Crose
It’s perhaps the biggest honor the storied and historic sport of boxing has to offer – induction to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. Former longtime heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko was inducted on Sunday. Unlike other inductees such as Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones, legends all, Klitschko was unable to go to New York to attend the lauded induction in person. Instead, he had to make a video acceptance from his war torn Ukrainian homeland, which has been ripped apart by combat since a Russian invasion began last winter. Klitschko made it a point to speak well of the sport he once dominated.
“What’s up Canastota?” he said in the video. “I never dreamed of getting this far in the sport, especially being among all the respected champions in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Amazing and a huge honor. Unfortunately, the Russian aggression in my home-country Ukraine and the war have prevented me from sharing in person this ceremony with you. This war has changed not just me, but the entire world. I also remember how boxing has changed my life. Boxing just made me a better person. Even if it was a bit scary in the beginning, but later on I really started to enjoy it.”
Klitschko also took a moment to compare himself with the iconic Mayweather, who he indicated took safety seriously while fighting, as he himself did. “Contrary to the popular expression,” he said, “every punch I ate made me smarter. Don’t take too many of those, not good. One key principle served me enormously: safety first. This principal allowed me to last, which was the secret to my endurance, and Floyd Mayweather’s too.”
Klitschko then, somewhat surprisingly, addressed fellow inductee Roy Jones, who is a dual citizen of both Russia and the United States. “There’s one person for who I have a real question,” Klitschko stated. “One person broke Ukrainian law by going to the [Russian] occupied peninsula Crimea through Russian territory. That person is Roy Jones. So Roy, who’s side are you on, the side of the aggressor or the defender of its right to live? I respect you as a fighter but I really question your moral compass.” Bold words from one legendary fighter to another.
In another video, Klitschko went on to address safety matters within the sport, making it clear fighter safety is an issue of considerable importance for him.
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