Reigning WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko is officially stepping away from the sport of boxing to focus on politics in his home country of Ukraine.
The 6 feet 7 inch "Dr. Ironfist" has held the title since 2008, but he's also the face of the Ukrainian opposition party UDAR, which is pushing for closer ties with the European Union and fewer with Russia. (Via YouTube / UDAR Info)
Klitschko has been a constant presence at the ongoing protests in Kyiv's Independence Square, where protesters have camped since the country's president, Viktor Yanukovych, backed out of a trade deal with the E.U. in late November. (Via Deutsche Welle)
The now-former champion last defended his title in September 2012 against Manuel Charr in a bout many fans found unsatisfying after it was ended by the referee in the fourth round. (Via ESPN)
But long before then, he'd made his political goals clear, telling The Wall Street Journal about his fledgling political party back in 2011.
"I know of so many people who don't want to wait, who is [sic] ready to work to make changes in our country. And I'm more than sure we can do that."
Klitschko became a member of parliament shortly after his last fight, and back in October officially announced his plans to seek the country's presidency in 2015. (Via The Guardian)
The 42-year-old says he can't imagine going back to the ring with all the turmoil in his country, but if he changes his mind he can come back almost like he never left.
"The World Boxing Council have named him a champion emeritus, which means he can resume his career at any time and fight any champion who takes his place." (Via BBC)
The WBC praised the outgoing champion for fighting for a democratic Ukraine. The title will go to the winner of a bout between two as-yet-undetermined contenders.