Wladimir Klitschko is a Ukrainian former professional boxer who competed from 1996 to 2017. He held the world heavyweight championship twice, including the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO, Ring magazine and lineal titles. A strategic and intelligent boxer, Klitschko is considered to be one of the best heavyweight champions of all time. He was known for his exceptional knockout power, using a strong jab, straight right hand and left hook, as well as excellent footwork and mobility, unusual for boxers of his size.
As an amateur, Klitschko represented Ukraine at the 1996 Olympics, winning a gold medal in the super-heavyweight division. After turning professional later that year, he defeated Chris Byrd in 2000 to win the WBO heavyweight title.
Klitschko’s first reign as champion ended in an upset knockout loss to Corrie Sanders in 2003, which was followed by another knockout loss to Lamon Brewster in 2004. It was during this time that Klitschko hired Emanuel Steward as his trainer, which began an eight-year partnership that lasted until Steward’s death in 2012. In particular, Steward was credited with Klitschko’s transition from an aggressive puncher to a more defensively-oriented boxer, much as he had done with Lennox Lewis in 1995 to 2003.
In 2006, Klitschko regained a portion of the world heavyweight championship after defeating Chris Byrd in a rematch to win the IBF and IBO titles. He won the WBO title for a second time by defeating Sultan Ibragimov in 2008. Following his defeat of Ruslan Chagaev in 2009, Klitschko was awarded the Ring and lineal titles, and lastly he won the WBA title from David Haye in 2011. In September 2015, Klitschko was ranked as the world’s best active boxer, pound for pound, by BoxRec; in November 2014, he reached a career peak of second best on The Rings pound for pound list. BoxRec currently ranks him as the 35th best boxer of all time and the greatest Europeanboxer of all time, pound for pound.
Until his loss to Tyson Fury in 2015, Klitschko was also recognized as lineal champion by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, while the WBA recognised him as one of its Super Champions, a distinction given to boxers who hold that title in addition to those by other sanctioning bodies in the same division. From 2006 to 2015, Wladimir and his older brother Vitali (himself a former world heavyweight champion) dominated heavyweight boxing, a period typically known as the Klitschko Era of the division.
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