Ukrainian heavyweight boxer, Wladimir Klitschko, has announced his retirement from the sport on Thursday. The 41-year-old’s last fight was against British-Nigerian, Anthony Joshua, in April at Wembley Stadium, in which he was beaten in the 11th round. Klitschko had a nine-and-a-half-year reign as world heavyweight champion making him one of the most successful boxers of all time.
“I never thought I’d have such a long and successful sporting career, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” he told his fans in a statement.
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, he 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 stopping Chris Byrd in a rematch to win the IBF and IBO titles. He won the WBO title for a second time by defeating then-unbeaten champion Sultan Ibragimov in 2008. Following his defeat of Ruslan Chagaev in 2009, he was awarded the Ring and lineal titles, and lastly he won the WBA title from David Haye in 2011. Until his defeat by Tyson Fury in 2015, Klitschko was also recognized as champion by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, while the WBA recognized 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. Ademola Aderele