The Klitschko brothers – Wladimir and Vitali – had many tough battles inside the ring, but nothing compared to what awaits them as their country of Ukraine fights against invasion by Russia.
More than 100,000 people are estimated to have fled the nation as Vladimir Putin’s army bids to take control following its invasion two days ago.
While the international community promises stiff sanctions in a bid to cripple Putin and Russia economically, it will be Ukrainians who are forced to take up the physical fight to protect their homeland.
Vitali ready to fight for Kiev
The Klitschkos – both former world heavyweight champions – are two of the most prominent figures in Ukraine and Vitali has been the mayor of the capital Kiev since 2014. With the Russians now close to the city, ‘Dr Ironfist’ says it is time for him to fight.
The 50-year-old told ITV’s ‘Good Morning Britain’: “I don’t have another choice, I have to do that. I’ll be fighting.
He added: “I believe in Ukraine, I believe in my country and I believe in my people.”
Wladimir Klitschko joins army
Wladimir meanwhile had already showed his readiness to fight for his country when he enlisted in Ukraine’s reserve army earlier in February.
Writing in a post on Linkedin, he said: “The Ukrainian people are strong. And it will remain true to itself in this terrible ordeal. A people longing for sovereignty and peace. A people who consider the Russian people their brothers.
“It knows that they basically do not want this war. The Ukrainian people have chosen democracy.
“But: Democracy is a fragile regime. Democracy cannot defend itself; it needs the will of the citizens, the commitment of everyone. Basically, there is no democracy without democrats.”
Reports early on Friday from news agency AFP suggested Ukrainian military was fighting Russian forces outside Kiev, in a bid to stop them entering the capital city.