Between Punches and Politics

Klitschko brothers
Two brothers, two champions, two visions for the future: Vitali (left) and Vladimir (Klitschko).
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Klitschko brothers are attempting to use their Ukrainian-Russian roots, and their experience in the boxing ring, to launch second careers.

  • Facts


    • The Ukrainian brothers moved to Germany in the 1990s to pursue boxing careers.
    • They were once offered $100 million to fight each other.
    • Their mother is from Siberia and their father is Ukrainian, so they grew up speaking both languages.
  • Audio


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In an office complex at the edge of the harbor in Hamburg, all glass walls and trophies, is the headquarters of the Klitschko Management Group. As the brothers’ boxing era winds down, Vitali sees his future in politics. The 43-year-old former heavyweight champion is the leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform and was elected mayor of Kiev this May. The younger Vladimir will defend his title as heavyweight world champion on November 15, but he too is preparing for a future outside of the ring. The brothers recently spoke with Thomas Tuma and Mathias Brüggmann about career planning, war in Ukraine — and magic.

Handelsblatt: Can the two of you still remember why of all careers you became boxers?

Vitali Klitschko: Actually, I would have preferred to become a cosmonaut. As children, we often sat on the rooftop and watched rockets being launched nearby. Back then we lived near a large Russian space facility, the Baikonur Cosmodrome. I can still remember how fascinating it was when rockets blasted off. Sometimes you could see them glowing until the next morning.

Vladimir Klitschko: Our parents were not very pleased when we started boxing. But they let us do it. My most important role model was always my brother. If he had become a cosmonaut… I would have tried to do the same. But he ended up a boxer.

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