Ukraine Crisis

Ex-Boxing Champ Vitali Klitschko to Run For Ukraine Presidency

Image: A man shakes hands with Vitali Klitschko
A man shakes hands with Vitali Klitschko, head of the UDAR party, in front of the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev on Feb. 23, 2014. YURY KIRNICHNY / AFP - Getty Images

The political struggle for the fate of Ukraine has already proved far bloodier than any of his 47 bouts in the ring, but that didn't stop former heavyweight boxing champ Vitali Klitschko from announcing his candidacy for the country's presidency Tuesday.

"I'll run for president. I am sure that there is a need to change principles of functioning of state authorities," he said on his Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform political party website.

He added that Ukraine has great potential and opportunities after the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych, who left a power vacuum when he fled the country's capital, Kiev, on Friday night.

"We have very little time to get out of the critical situation.... People should not have a feeling that politicians seized power once again," he said.

The 6-foot-7 father of three, known as Dr. Ironfist for his achievements in the ring and the academic arena, has been a leading light in the opposition movement, which spent months protesting against Yanukovych's decision to steer the country toward closer ties with Russia instead of a trade pact with the European Union.

Klitschko negotiated with the government in a bid to prevent the bloodshed as the protests erupted into deadly clashes.

His candidacy would not be the Ph.D-holding heavyweight's first foray into politics. In 2005, he made a bid to become mayor of Kiev — the first of three failed runs for the seat.

He was elected to the Ukrainian parliament in 2012, just a few months after his last fight — his 45th victory.