May 17, 2018
DAY WITH THE MAYOR OF KIEV
WBC EMERITUS CHAMPION VITALI KLITSCHKO
The WBC's 56th annual convention will take place in
Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, from September 30th through October
5th of this year. I traveled to meet with the local organization
committee and to officially present the convention to the media.
The last time I was in this beautiful city was in 2004 when the WBC
Board of Governors held a special meeting which was of high significance
for the history of our organization. It was then when a terrible legal
injustice was finalized and settled and the WBC became stronger than
Kiev will host the “Champions League” final at the end of the month and
there is tremendous enthusiasm all over the city..
When we arrived at his office, I was intrigued as I had only seen Vitali
in boxing related events and conventions. Entered through a private
elevator, a door opened and there he was, as tall as ever, dressed in an
elegant suit and with his charismatic genuine smile. We presented the
WBC Convention to the press and then conducted individual interviews
Vitali then took the time to go to lunch where we discussed all
specifics about the convention. He is welcoming with open arms his dear
friends from boxing and is excited to receive in his city the many
legendary champions who usually attend the annual gathering.
As we finished, he asked me to join him in a site inspection of some
remodeling that is taking place near the restaurant. We started walking
as the rain started to pour down. We shared an umbrella but certainly
got soaked as we moved along the road. I was thrilled to see the
reaction of people looking at “Mayor Klitschko” walking in the street,
in the rain, and without security. Everybody said hello with a big
smile. The construction work is to rebuild a famous wooden, staircase
which unites the old and the new city, and is now being replaced with a
concrete structure for longevity. There, he went down to check
everything out in the rain while I waited with my umbrella.
As we were ready to leave and rain had stopped, Vitaliy gently asked me
if I didn’t mind if his driver took me back the hotel as he needed to go
back to his office – I was humbled, of course. To my surprise, the next
thing I see is Mayor Klitschko getting on a bicycle to ride back to his
office! I inquired, and it is very common to see him riding his bike to
He came back to get me to have dinner. So, we drove to a nice quiet
place where we sat alone and talked for a long time. I was there with my
friend, a champion who was very close to my dear father Don Jose, one
who was present at all WBC Conventions and special ceremonies. I have
great memories from times spent in Cancun, Thailand, Moscow, Manila, and
many other places, but this dinner was different and I listened with
attention to the so many stories he shared with me, and I like to share
Vitali was young, watching TV with his friends, and saw Mike
the youngest heavyweight champion of the world. In those years there was
no professional boxing in Ukraine and he told his friends, “One day I am
going to become champion of the world and have that green belt wrapped
around me.” All of his friends laughed and made fun of him.
Vitali was like a father and mother to Wladimir – his parents had to
work, so he was in charge of his little brother. They have always been
extremely close and have been there for one another. Wladimir lost his
title by dramatic KO to Corrie
Vitali faced Sanders for the WBC green belt when Lennox
Sanders hit him so hard in the second round that he was out, but the
thought of avenging Wladimir’s defeat kept him in the fight and he
eventually knocked out Sanders to capture his dream.
Vitali trains every single day. It is the only time he has for himself
and it is where he finds the strength to go out and lead one of the most
important cities in Europe. He even jokes that he is still thinking
about using his Emeritus Champion status to come back and fight for the
title. He truly regrets not having time to enjoy the sport that he
loves. The last fight he watched on TV was the great battle between Aleksandr
Usyk and Mairis
the cruiserweight championship.
Kiev will be the capital of boxing during 2018, a tremendous year for
Ukraine. Usyk conquered the WBC world title, Oleksandr
the WBC interim light heavyweight title, Vasiliy
the highly regarded fight versus Jorge
an award from the Boxing Writers Association of America, and Vitali
inducted into the International Boxing Hall of fame in Canastota.
This upcoming convention will certainly be one to remember.