ESPN announced yesterday that former heavyweight champion, Hall of Fame inductee, and mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the July 20th ESPYS.
Former heavyweight boxing champion and mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, will be honored with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2022 @ESPYS.— ESPN (@espn) June 14, 2022
Klitschko has been a central figure in his country’s defense since it was invaded by Russian forces in late February. pic.twitter.com/3jZ2lWLvpF
“It is a great honor for me to receive this award,” said Klitschko. “I am convinced that this is a recognition of the courage and inviolability of the Ukrainian people, who have been bravely resisting the Russian aggressor for more than 3 months. This is an award for everyone who defends the independence and freedom of Ukraine.”
“Dr. Ironfist” spent over a decade as one of the most consistent and devastating forces in the sport, racking up a dozen title defenses and at one point holding the all-time record for knockout percentage among heavyweight champions. He retired in 2013 with a 45-2 (41 KO), his only losses coming via shoulder injury against Chris Byrd and cuts against Lennox Lewis in fights he was winning on every scorecard.
Following his exit from the ring, Klitschko successfully ran for mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine in 2014, a position he’s held ever since. Of late, both he and brother Wladimir have become some of the most prominent figures in his country’s defense against the ongoing Russian invasion.
“Vitali’s poise and strength as his city and country faces unfathomable tests have far surpassed the incredible resolve he demonstrated as one of boxing’s top heavyweight champions,” said Rob King, senior vice president and executive editor-at-large, ESPN Content. “His commitment to the people of Ukraine has been a global inspiration, and his bravery is a prime example of the resilience of the human spirit. It is our privilege to bestow him with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.”