Today (Thursday, August 3) Wladimir Klitschko announced his retirement. “As an amateur and a professional boxer, I have achieved everything I dreamed of and now I want to start my second career after sports,” said Klitschko in his formal press release. “I would never have imagined that I would have such a long and incredibly successful career. I’m very thankful for this. Thanks to everyone who has supported me. Especially my family, my team and my many fans.”
A certain first ballot Hall of Famer, the 41-year-old Klitschko was born in Kazakhstan, the son of an Air Force colonel, and represented Ukraine in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where he won the gold medal in the super heavyweight division. He turned pro in November of that year in Hamburg, Germany, on a card that also included the pro debut of his older brother Vitali.
Wladimir Klitschko won his first title on March 8, 2003, when he scored a 12-round decision over crafty Chris Byrd. From that point until November of 2015, he held one world title or another — and usually multiple world titles simultaneously — for a period of all but 19 months. He finished his pro career with a record of 64-5 with 53 knockouts. He was undefeated during his 8-year association with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward.
Klitschko and his brother Vitali, who will precede him into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, had unconventional backgrounds for men who chose to pursue a career in the prize ring. Both earned doctorate degrees in Sports Science. Both are conversant in four languages. Wladimir and actress Hayden Panettiere, his long-time partner, have a daughter born in December of 2014.
As evidence of their tremendous popularity overseas, they co-authored a book on physical fitness that purportedly sold 500,000 copies in Europe. But boxing fans (and the boxing media) in the United States were slow to recognize that their brilliance would have translated into a noteworthy career in any era.
Wladimir lost his last two fights. In November of 2015, in Dusseldorf, Germany, he surrendered his WBA, IBF, WBO and lineal title belts to Tyson Fury who out-pointed him in a bout that could diplomatically be called inartistic. On April 29 of this year, before 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in London, he was TKOed in the 11th round by Anthony Joshua in a fight that was an instant classic.
Klitschko’s team inserted a rematch clause in the Klistchko-Joshua contract and Wladimir was expected to activate it. The scuttlebutt was that they would lock horns again on Nov. 11 in Las Vegas. With that fight now dead, Joshua is expected to pursue a match with Kubrat Pulev. A 36-year-old Bulgarian with a 25-1 record, Pulev was knocked out in the fifth round by Wladimir Klitschko in November of 2014 in Hamburg.
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