By James Slater: It’s been written and its been said a number of times how the educated, talented, generous and ultra-professional Klitschko brothers are great, great role models. The two big men never attract negative headlines and neither sibling ever seems to put a foot wrong. Even those fans who say they do not care too much for their somewhat cautious fighting style (Wladimir especially labelled safety-first by some fans) agree that Wladimir and Vitali are fine ambassadors for the oft-controversial sport they represent.
And, in a recent interview with CNN, Ring Magazine, WBA, IBF, WBO heavyweight king Wladimir spoke about a selfless act he committed earlier this year; one that will lead yet more people to say how great a guy the 36-year-old is: “Dr. Steel Hammer” sold one of his most prized possessions – his Olympic gold medal. Why? So he could raise funds to help children.
The highest achievement for any athlete is representing their country at the Olympics and winning the gold medal. Wladimir achieved this at the L.A games in 1996 when aged just 20, yet earlier this year he sold the gold he fought so hard to win for $1 million; the money a boost to the funds of he and his brother’s Foundation.
“I did sell the medal in March and 100-precent of the funds, which is $1 million, went to The Klitschko Brothers Foundation,” Wladimir told CNN this week. “We care about education and sport, that is the key in any child’s life. If they have knowledge they can succeed with that in their adult life and sport gives them rules – how to respect your opponent, how to respect the rules.
“It is always in life like that, you go down but you have to get up, and sport gives you this great lesson.”
Name another Olympian who would part with their prized possession in the name of charity! What Klitschko did must have been hard (and I wonder who now owns the medal Wladimir had to sweat and bleed for) and he must be commended for his charity – after all, he will never get the opportunity to win another Olympic medal in his entire life.
Klitschko doesn’t look like parting with his treasured pro titles any tome soon, though. Looking about as unbeatable as any active fighter this side of the soon to be released from prison Floyd Mayweather Junior, the younger of the two Klitschkos hasn’t even been tested in his recent fights. Already, Wladimir is looking forward to his next defence; having seen off mandatory challenger Tony Thompson with apparent ease just a few weeks ago.
“I’m a seasoned fighter and that means I have to stay busy, so I fought twice this year (defeating Jean Marc Mormeck and Thompson) and by the end of the year – November, December – I’m going to defend my titles again,” Klitschko said.
The 58-3(51) king who has not tasted defeat since way back in April of 2004, said he does not yet know who he will fight at year end, but there are a number of possibilities. Chris Arreola is said to be in the frame, as is Seth Mitchell (if he feels ready this year, probably not) and Tyson Fury, another young up and comer. There is also soon to be an IBF elimination tourney that will hopefully provide a suitable challenger for Wlad. But that won’t happen until next year.
Arreola looks like the best available challenger right now, although some fans say they would like to see the unbeaten Alexander Povetkin rise to the massive challenge. Wladimir can pretty much pick whoever he wants, however – nobody looks close to capable of beating him and taking his titles. Maybe Wladimir will retire as champ and then just hand over his many belts?