From the boxing ring to the political ring: the Ukrainian boxer Vitali Klychko has moved into heavyweight politics. The name of his party – UDAR – means ‘punch’ in Ukrainian.
The 41-year-old speaks four languages and is the first world boxing champion to have a PhD.
He has declared himself an opposition independent, refusing to join the united opposition coalition.
Klychko explained: “Sadly, Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. We’re running for parliament to change this.”
This is Klychko’s first foray into national politics, but he has already led his party in Kiev’s City Council, where he brought his fighting instincts into play.
Klychko said: “We demand that every citizen be treated equally under the law. We want those guilty of abuses to be disqualified en mass – the people who have not carried out their duties. We are offering completely different principles and a new, young generation.”
Using his sport career for this political venture, Klychko hopes his boxing fans will join voters who already see him as a new breed of Ukrainian politician.
He said one of his first moves in parliament would be to introduce what is known as a lustration law, which is aimed at removing officials whose misdeads in the past have been exposed.
Klychko told euronews: “One of the prime targets for our punch is inequality. Unfortunately, a lot of things in Ukraine depend on a person’s social status, job title and financial power. We demand that every citizen be treated equally under the law.”
Klychko won his last bout in September. His knockout-to-fight ratio is second only to Rocky Marciano in heavyweight boxing history. The political ring awaits.