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Boxing
Vitali Klitschko delays political punches
In preparation for his fight against Germany's Manuel Charr, Vitali Klitschko puts his political activities on ice.
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2012 15:48
Vitali faces his next opponent (Manuel Charr) in the boxing ring not in the political ring [EPA]

Ukrainian world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko on Tuesday said he had temporarily put his political aspirations to one side for his heavyweight title fight against Germany's Manuel Charr.

Klitschko, 40, leads the aptly named UDAR (punch) party in Ukraine which is currently running third in opinion polls ahead of legislative elections on October 28 and is vehemently critical of President Viktor Yanukovych.

But he told reporters he had put his political activity on ice to concentrate on the fight with Charr, 27, for the WBC belt in the Russian capital on Saturday. He vowed to return to campaigning after the bout.

"August were the holidays and my (campaign) team gave me the chance to devote myself to sport," Klitschko told reporters at a pre-fight press conference in Moscow alongside his opponent.

"Once the fight is over I will play a more active role in the politics so that Ukrainian voters back our political force to represent them" in the Verkhovna Rada parliament, he said.

'No presents'

Exuding his usual confidence and dressed in a red hooded jumper, Klitschko said he would talk more about politics when his party gives a major news conference in Kiev after the fight.

The Beirut-born Charr sought to goad his opponent ahead of the fight, telling Klitshcko that boxing the Ukrainian was "a present that I have dreamed off all my life" and that he expected to win by knockout.

"There will be no presents" on Saturday, retorted Klitschko, adding that no-one in the world was capable of knocking him out.

Klitshcko and his Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) - founded in 2010 - have become vocal opponents of the controversial Yanukovych and bitterly criticised the jailing of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Both Vitali and his younger brother Vladimir - who also holds heavyweight boxing titles - were strong supporters of the 2004 Orange Revolution uprising that for a time brought pro-Western forces to power.

According to the most recent poll by the Razumkov Centre, Klitschko's party is running third in the parliamentary elections race.

The Tymoshenko-led opposition coalition will win 19.6 percent, the ruling Regions Party 19 percent, UDAR 9.5 percent and the Communist Party 7.5 percent, according to the poll.

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Source:
AFP
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