27 years ago, two of the most successful heavyweight boxers of the last decades started their professional careers. On November 16, 1996, both Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko were in the ring for a professional fight for the first time and didn’t give their first opponent even the slightest chance. The younger Klitschko brother Wladimir remembered the special debut of the two boxing legends in a video contribution.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” said Wladimir Klitschko in December 2021 in the video that he shared on social media to mark his 25th professional anniversary.
In the Wandsbek sports hall in Hamburg, it was Vitali Klitschko’s turn first, dispatching his American opponent Tony Bradham in just two rounds. His brother Wladimir, five years his junior, then climbed into the same ring and challenged the Mexican Fabian Meza. Wladimir made even shorter work and sent his opponent to the boards in the first round.
“It was a big difference, from amateur sport to professional sport. There were huge differences in the preparation for the fight, the number of rounds, in terms of taping, head protection and much more,” said the younger Klitschko brother about his first fight Experiences in professional sports.
Boxing: Vitali Klitschko knocks out 41 of his 47 opponents
What happened in the next 20 years has long since entered the annals of boxing. Both Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko fought their way to become heavyweight world champions and were still considered unbeatable almost ten years ago.
Until the end of his career in 2017, Wladimir Klitschko fought a total of 69 professional fights, of which he won 64. He retired from active professional sport after defeats against subsequent champions Tyson Fury in November 2015 and finally Anthony Joshua in April 2017.
Vitali’s fight statistics read even more impressively: The native of Kiev knocked out 41 of his 47 professional opponents in the ring and was known as “Dr. Eisenfaust” as the strongest heavyweight in the boxing circus.
After legendary fights against, among others, Lennox Lewis (2003), Corrie Sanders (2004) and Dereck Chisora (2012), Vitali Klitschko was in the ring for the last time against the German-Lebanese Manuel Charr in September 2012. He has been mayor of Ukraine’s capital Kiev since 2014.
Unlike in the years that followed, Wladimir Klitschko was not able to stand in his brother’s corner of the ring when he made his professional debut in 1996 and support him directly. “Vitali fought before me. I couldn’t support him because I had to prepare myself. But Vitali was in the corner with me after his first fight,” remembers the now 47-year-old.