Klitschko brothers spurred on by the other's achievements
Never before have two brothers ruled the heavyweight roost simultaneously. Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko would like to change that. Elder brother Vitali will hold destiny in his hands when he steps into the ring against titlist Sam Peter on Saturday.
Originally Published: October 8, 2008By Brian Doogan | Special to ESPN.com
Andreas Rentz/Bongarts/Getty Images"Home, sweet home!" Vitali Klitschko returns to the sports arena after a four-year hiatus on Saturday.Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko fired their hooks almost simultaneously on Thursday; Vitali at a sparring partner in the Austrian Alps, his younger brother on the 12th hole at Kingsbarns Golf Links near St. Andrews in Scotland. Both hooks did damage. "Out of 10 drives, I can sometimes hit one straight and as far as the pros," Wladimir, 32, told ESPN.com while playing with Swedish Ryder Cup golfer Soren Hansen in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. "The trouble is, the other nine can go anywhere -- and one of these was on the 12th hole. It was not pretty."
Wladimir's golf game received mixed reviews. The Times of London reported that witnesses suggested "making contact with the ball definitely was [a problem] for him," while The Press and Journal of Aberdeen insisted "he looked far better than his 18 handicap suggests." "I was afraid he was going to let it go on a few holes and break a few clubs," Hansen said. The irony is that Vitali, 37, is the Klitschko who might have been expected to be playing golf last week -- back strains and knee injuries permitting. Instead, he was wrapping up his training ahead of arriving in Berlin to challenge heavyweight titleholder Samuel Peter on Saturday at the O2 World Arena. It will be his first fight in four years.
Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesWho would have thought Wladimir Klitschko would be the one on the golf links?
When little brother saw that I was a boxer, he wanted to become a boxer, too. When little brother saw me receive Ph.D., he had to get Ph.D. also. And when I won a heavyweight title, little brother was not satisfied until he had won a title. Now I want to accomplish what little brother did three years ago by beating Sam Peter now I am following Wladimir.
-- Vitali Klitschko, on how he and his brother, Wladimir, find inspiration in each other
"I saw that the rules worked for a very small group of people, while the vast majority, maybe 90 percent, had to wait for something to improve their lives. I wanted to make a change in my country," Vitali said. Since 2002, he and Wladimir have been ambassadors for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which supports more than 180 projects in 87 countries in need of the most elementary aid. "I remember when I was invited to meet Max Schmeling, along with Wladimir, at his home outside Hollenstedt in northern Germany," Vitali said. "I had lost against Chris Byrd because of a torn shoulder muscle, and Max said, 'I know you have a bad feeling right now, and everybody is kicking you when you are down. But I had the same situation in my life, and I know your time will come.' His time came when he became the first man to beat Joe Louis; mine when I fought Lennox Lewis and no one could ever question my heart again. "Right now, there is no question that Wladimir is the strongest boxer in the heavyweight division. In my opinion, the second-strongest is Samuel Peter, and just after that is Ruslan Chagaev and Nikolai Valuev. I don't really care about legacy, about what people will think of me as a fighter years from now, but I do want to achieve this feat, for me and my brother to be heavyweight titleholders at the same time." It would be a nice memory for them to share years from now when they are hooking and slicing their way around the golf course. Brian Doogan is a sportswriter for the London Sunday Times and is a longtime European correspondent for The Ring magazine.
Richard Heathcote/Action Images/Icon SMIWhether speaking at the podium or trading blows in the ring, Vitali Klitschko's heart can't be questioned.
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