May 26 2014, 12:17am CDT | by Poch de la Rosa
"Ukraine's burly boxing hero and strident protest leader Vitali Klitschko claimed victory Sunday in a Kiev mayoral vote that cements his role as the statesman for the country's post-Soviet generation.
"'All change will begin in Kiev,' the former heavyweight champion declared after exit polls gave him 57 percent of the capital city's vote.
"The two-metre-tall titan who never suffered a knockdown in his stellar heavyweight career was Ukraine's most popular figure at the height of the protests that toppled a Russian-backed regime in February.
"But the 42-year-old's star faded once the old president fled to Russia and voters began searching for others with similar pro-Western leanings but a bit more experience in dealing with delicate diplomatic and economic affairs.
"Klitschko ran in tandem with Petro Poroshenko -- a billionaire chocolate maker who was on course to win Sunday's presidential poll in the first round.
"But the mayor's seat still leaves Klitschko with numerous levels of power and provides him with the perfect launching pad for a future presidential run.
"The city boss not only manages a considerable share of the state budget but also oversees tax collection from Ukraine's biggest and most influential companies.
"That role is vital in a country where politicians and tycoons often switch places and where the position on weighty matters taken by big coporations is often as important as that assumed by parliament.
"Klitschko will also be able to decide which political forces can rally on the city's iconic Independence Square -- scene of protests that toppled two governments in the past decade."
Poroshenko congratulated Klitschko after he was elected Kiev Mayor, per BoxingScene.com. He said,"I can say with confidence that according to our confidence Vitali Klitschko will be the new mayor of Kiev...I congratulate thim."
FightNews.com posted an update on Klitschko's victory on May 25:
"Ukraine media have reported that former world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko has been elected mayor or Kiev, the capital of Ukraine and the eighth-largest city in Europe with a population of 2,847,200.
"Official results aren't yet available, but the call has been made based on exit polls where Vitali has an overwhelming lead over seven other candidates. Klitschko was one of the leaders in the Euromaidan protests that brought down the rein of former Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych.
"For a time he was a candidate for president himself, but Vitali later withdrew and announced his support for Petro Poroshenko. This is the third time Klitschko has run for office after previous bids in 2006 and 2008."
Klitschko last fought in Sept. 2012, beating German Manuel Charr by TKO in the fourth round to up his record to 45-2 with 41 knockouts. His 87.23 percent knockout percentage rate is the second-best in heavyweight history behind the late Rocky Marciano's 87.76.
Source: BBC Sport
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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