Extraordinary Ukrainian Heavyweight Boxers
|Sports journalists, athletes and
coaches, and the general sports loving public are
unanimous in calling the heavyweight boxers, brothers
Klychko “unique” and “extraordinary.”
Paradoxically, it is probably their extraordinariness that does not earn them prime time on TV sports shows. But in spite of our local TV reticence they are well known in the boxing world. Among their ardent fans one finds people of all ages, all walks of life and of many occupations. The brothers Klychko are urged by many to go ahead and “become world champions among the professionals.” But the brothers are not in a hurry to become fully-fledged prize-fighters.
They are taking their time, they are thinking in terms of the next century.I have grown-up sons and I know quite a few of their age-peers, and it is not only they who hold the brothers Klychko in high esteem but I, being considerably older, have a lot to borrow from them.
and Volodymyr are determined to reach the goals they set
for themselves, their purposefulness is overwhelming.
Vitaly is 26 and Volodymyr is only 22, and yet it seems
they are being pressed for time to make themselves
perfect. At such an age one easily succumbs to
temptations. Not so the brothers Klychko.
They seem to have no time for relaxation at all. And they have not been affected in the least by being sports stars. They remain accessible and nice to be with. Actually, one should not be overly surprised by the fact that they give so much time to their work-outs, almost to the point of complete self-denial. At present the brothers are training in Hamburg, Germany, and their coach Fritz Zdunek says it is difficult to persuade them to leave the ring at the Universum Sports Club and have a rest. It is probably their most characteristic feature — to give themselves completely to what they are doing. They have chosen an extremely demanding kind of sport and to achieve anything one has to work extremely hard and also to be able to assess soberly and objectively one’s progress.
There is an opinion current among those who have never come to know any outstanding athletes close enough that the athletes in their majority are superficial, narrow-minded, even dull-witted, given to pleasures of the flesh. The brothers Klychko are the living denial of such primitive views. I would call them “computers imbued with human souls,” geared to achieve success in the professional boxing. Such a description of them may look a bit too far-fetched because, in fact, they are quite normal young men, with desires and problems typical of their age.
Both consider the city of Kyiv to be their native place, they respect and love their parents. They fully realize how difficult it was for their parents to raise them, especially considering the fact that their father is an army officer and the family had to move from place to place quite often. The brothers showed inclination to sports in general and boxing in particular and ability to achieve a lot at quite an early age, and their parents did their best to provide them with opportunities to have proper training. Their father always wanted to have a car of his own but because of frequent changes of places of residence the money he saved would be spent on settling down at each successive new place. Now, when the “boys” earn enough to support not only themselves but their parents as well, they bought their father a car as a gift for his fiftieth birthday. Since maintaining your car in a proper condition is still a bit of a problem (not enough car-service stations and poor workmanship at times) in Ukraine, they make sure when they come to Kyiv to provide their father with enough cash to take care of any problems that may arise with his car. Needless to say, the parents take a great pride in the successes of their sons.
In Hamburg they have ideal conditions for training, both psychologically and as far as the equipment is concerned. Their promoter Hans Peter Kohl is a man who keeps his promises. He has made everything possible for the brothers to feel themselves at home in Hamburg. In spite of the excellent living and training conditions they have in Germany, the brothers go back to Kyiv almost every week. They are not planning to stay in the West permanently. They are nostalgic, they are patriotic. They will appear on the ring in Kyiv at a competition in November to be held at the Kyiv Sports Palace.
The brothers Klychko have won between them over 45 fights (it’s difficult for me to separate their achievements, so inseparably they stand in my mind). Their crushing “double punch” as they call it, has proven irresistible so far. Evander Holyfield, the US heavyweight prize-fighter, paid them a visit in Hamburg and they had several sparring fights there and in America as well. They apparently liked each other. Next year they are to meet him not in a sparring match but in real fights and affinities will have to be left outside the ring. Vitaly has already won an official fight in Miami against Kennedy and Volodymyr has beaten the aggressive Monroe in New Orleans. The US heavyweight boxer Tyson was reported to have said that he would think twice before taking the brothers Klychko on, and Schultz of Germany also considers them to be formidable opponents. The Klychko fights in the USA were televised and an estimated audience of over 30 million viewers watched them.
The brothers Klychko amply demonstrate that despite all the economic uncertainties at home and inability of Ukrainian politicians to map a sure course towards successful reforms, a lot can be achieved given the right determination and purposefulness. Ukrainians with strong hands and clear minds of whom the brothers Klychko are excellent representatives will pull the country out of its difficulties.
Valentin Shcherbachov, who
really hopes his closing words
will come true and who is a long-time friend of the Klychko brothers
(Mr. Shcherbachov holds an honorific title of Master of Sports
which is awarded for outstanding achievements in sports.)