Three-time heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko announced Thursday that he plans to run for president in his native country Ukraine in 2015, according to the state-run Ukrinform News Agency.
Along with winning heavyweight boxing titles three times, including the World Boxing Organization's crown in 1999, Klitschko, 42, holds a master's degree in social development and a doctorate in sport science.
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His well-rounded background earned him the moniker "Dr. Ironfist" in the ring. But Klitschko will have to iron out issues surrounding his citizenship in order to run, a fact that some of his political opponents have tried to take advantage of, according to CNN.
"I have a residence permit in Germany, but this doesn't violate the Ukrainian legislation, and I've always been a citizen of Ukraine," Klitschko said Thursday in Kiev. "I want to say that I cannot be intimidated or stopped. In order to put an end to various attempts to get rid of me as a possible candidate, I want to say that I'm running for president."
Supporters of incumbent Viktor Yanukovych helped pass a bill in Ukraine's parliament Wednesday that bars candidates who have lived outside Ukraine during the past 10 years from running, the BBC reported.
Before the bill, the rule was a candidate had to live in the country for 180 days before they could run. The bill, which amends the country's tax code, was clearly meant to stop Klitschko from challenging Yanukovych, Klitschko said.
The towering Klitschko, at 6-foot-7 ½, has a 47-2 boxing record, with 41 knockouts. He is currently the leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party and is married with three children.
Reuters reported that Klitschko
has condemned widespread corruption under the current Ukrainian administration and has called for a more democratic society along European lines. Despite poll numbers showing that he could be a serious challenger to Yanukovych, the Ukrainian public stills see him more as a popular boxing champion than a politician.
His UDAR Party, which means "punch" in Ukrainian, won 42 seats in the 450-seat parliament in last year's election, making it one of the country's top opposition parties.
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