Wladimir Klitschko has retired from boxing at the age of 41. What a great ambassador for boxing he has been, and will continue to be in retirement with a professional career that lasted from his 1996 Olympic gold medal until this year.
What a way to leave the stage. Klitschko had nothing to prove. He did not have to beat Anthony Joshua to establish a legacy – even though he very nearly did beat Joshua. Ten years as world heavyweight champion established that legacy. A rematch would not in my view have produced a different outcome.
Klitschko will be remembered as an all-time boxing great. His record and his longevity assure him of that, but his attitude has also helped secure that legacy. Before and/or after bouts there was never any histrionics, verbal or physical abuse of his opponents or any other nonsense. All interviews before and after his fights contained measured and intelligent analysis.
Many say that histrionics and crass behavior are part and parcel of promotion of fights, but Klitschko and indeed his last great rival; Anthony Joshua never engaged in such nonsense. It’s something which the current biggest name of combat sports; Conor McGregor could learn a lot from.
Sadly in my opinion, a big part of what has made McGregor such a marketable commodity has not been merely his athletic and fighting abilities, but also his loud and abrasive mouth. It’s an attitude which many combat sport competitors have been trying to emulate, but Klitschko and Joshua have shown that having a loud, abrasive and abusive mouth are not essential “qualities” of a combat sport competitor.
Wladimir Klitschko speaks five languages, has a PhD in sports science, was never out of shape and probably most importantly, carried himself with great dignity. Klitschko tweeted a nice tribute to Anthony Joshua, which really summed up both men: “My HEART is at PEACE as I pass the torch to @anthonyfjoshua – the next generation. Good luck little bro, I’m proud of you!”
Joshua replied: “Respect champ we lit the scene up in April! Your welcome to give me any advice on how to keep this going for the next 10years
Just like they conducted themselves during the entire buildup and in the midst of their epic 11 round bout, there were no barbs, no insults, no confrontations. The rest of the combat sport world could learn a lot from both men.