Inside Lines: Vitali Klitschko set to swap world title for his freedom fight

 

Nelson Mandela said that had he not fought for democracy in South Africa he would love to have been the world heavyweight boxing champion. One who actually is now follows a similar long walk to freedom.

Vitali Klitschko is battling out of the ring for the political future of his native Ukraine, standing tall on the streets of Kiev amid the violent anti-government protests that have captured the world’s attention. The 6ft 7in “Dr Ironfist” is embroiled in the struggle against the vilified president Viktor Yanukovich, emerging as his main challenger in the elections scheduled for 2015. However, the 42-year-old champion who desires to be a political contender must decide this week whether to give up the title he has held for almost a decade.

That is the deadline set by the World Boxing Council for him to name a date to defend against Bermane Stiverne or relinquish the sport’s most authentic belt. In view of Klitschko’s apparent full-time commitment as a political heavyweight, the latter option seems probable, with Stiverne, a Haiti-born Canadian, matched with America’s big-punching sensation Deontay Wilder for the vacant title. Apart from Muhammad Ali, Klitschko surely is the most remarkable of heavyweight champions. Like his younger brother, Wladimir, he holds a PhD. Now he has an altogether different fight on his hands as leader of a pro-Western, anti-Putin party, the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform, whose initials appropriately translate into the Ukrainian word for “punch”. He is said to be 20 per cent ahead in the polls for a presidential race likely to be far fiercer than any of his 17 title fights. Mandela would have applauded this fellow freedom fighter.

Singapore sting

Singapore, a tiny south-east Asian peninsula the size of the Isle of Wight, has emerged as the epicentre of the illegal betting scams transfixing (if you’ll pardon the phrase) football, not least in this country. Yet illegal gambling cartels were operating when I worked there in the Eighties. Then, sport was considered an irrelevance on an education-is-everything government agenda, and such corruption slipped under the radar. But since Singapore has realised that sport brings big business, opening casinos and staging major events, I am surprised that these illegal activities have not been stamped out. The laws remain draconian – Singapore has a hang-’em-flog-’em doctrine – so why have they been unable to crack down on the hucksters who are making the Singapore sting more potent than the Singapore Sling?

Prawn in the game

The latest pompous politico to jump aboard the football-bashing bandwagon is one Sir Bob Russell, the Lib Dem MP for Colchester, who last week called for a Royal Commission “to clean up the game”, telling Parliament: “Professional football in this country is rotten to the core, not least parasitic agents taking millions of pounds a year out of the game.” Among those less than impressed by Sir Bob’s pontificating will be Robbie Cowling, the owner of Colchester United, who last year accused him of being a “freeloading, prawn sandwich-eating, fair-weather fan”, who only went to games if he had a free invitation to a corporate box.

Brought to book

Britain’s relatively unsung world squash champion Nick Matthew may have elected not to make the short journey from Sheffield to Leeds for tonight’s BBC SPOTY awards in protest at the scant coverage his sport receives, but he did show up when the Sports Journalists’ Association held theirs in London last week. And so surprised was he to receive a special award that he was busy signing copies of his excellent autobiography, Sweating Blood, and almost didn’t hear when his named was called to collect it.

a.hubbard@independent.co.uk

Voices
voices
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Urgently looking for Qualified Teachers and NQT's

£110 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Urgently looking for Quali...

Year 5 Teacher

£21000 - £32000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 Teacher Would yo...

Teacher

£100 - £120 per day + key stage 1, key stage 2: Randstad Education Chelmsford:...

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried