Heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko to run for president of Ukraine
Heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko announced his intention to run for president of Ukraine in 2015.
The older brother of fellow heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko declared his candidacy in front of the Ukrainian parliament during a speech Thursday.
Klitschko hasn’t fought since defending his WBC belt against Manuel Charr in 2012. He was scheduled to make a mandatory title defense against Bermane Stiverne last month but pulled out, saying he had a right hand injury.
The three-time world titleholder seems more interested in politics these days. He has emerged as a top Ukrainian opposition leader since being elected to parliament last fall as the head of Udar, a pro-Western party he helped form in 2010.
Klitschko has campaigned against what he calls authoritarian moves by President Viktor Yanukovych and has been long expected to enter the presidential race.
“We want to build democracy in Ukraine,” Klitschko told ESPN.com before the Charr fight. “In Ukraine, you can buy everyone. You can buy every position, every judge, you buy every court decision. The biggest enemy to democracy is that there are no clear rules and so much corruption. Ukrainian politics is simple business and we have to change that.
“It’s painful to say that Ukraine is the most corrupt country in world and we need to change that. We are for more democracy [and] freedom of speech.”
Pro-government forces are trying to pass a bill preventing Klitschko from running because of his permanent residency status in Germany. Klitschko said he “will not be frightened or stopped by this.”
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