Ukrainian boxing star Vitali Klitschko has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2015 presidential elections.
Klitschko, currently an opposition politician, is the first declared contender against incumbent Viktor Yanukovich.
Announcing his move, the reigning WBC heavyweight champion reacted angrily when ruling politicians amended laws that could disqualify his candidacy because of years he spent training in Germany.
The 42-year-old said: “Everything that has taken place in parliament today with texts of laws, directly backed by ruling party deputies, does not intimidate me and will not stop me.
“To head off all this conjecture and attempts to eliminate me as a possible candidate, I want to declare this: I will run for president.”
Klitschko shapes up as the strongest challenger to Yanukovich in 2015 in the absence of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year jail sentence for abuse of office and whose release Western powers are seeking.
Klitschko has condemned widespread corruption in Ukrainian society which he says is fostered by the leadership and speaks up for a fairer, more democratic society along European lines.
But his popularity mainly derives from his gut appeal as a big-hitting sportsman, untainted by domestic politics, and his skills as a political manager are untested.