Wladimir Klitschko’s chilling warning to Putin eight years before Ukraine war

Boxing icon Wladimir Klitschko warned Russian president Vladimir Putin not to ‘repeat the mistakes of history’ back in 2014 as the two men now lead opposite sides following the invasion of Ukraine.

Klitschko was speaking out against Putin as the leader sent Russian forces to take control of Crimea, where they held an illegal referendum to try to lay claim to the land. Klitschko’s older brother Vitali was also world heavyweight champion before taking office as the Mayor of Kyiv, and he helped lead the opposition to topple Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovich in the Maidan Revolution.

The younger Klitschko, who was still an active boxer until he retired following his world title defeat to Anthony Joshua in 2017, called out Putin years before his full-scale invasion of Ukraine. He warned the president of the consequences of his decision.

“You cannot repeat the mistakes of history and there were a lot of mistakes,” Wladimir told reporters when at his training camp in Hollywood. “Every country, every former Soviet republic has its own desire and will to look in the direction they want to look – east, west, south, north. It’s their own decision.”

According to Boxrec.com, Klitschko held the IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight championships longer than any other fighter in history. He has a Russian mother and a Ukrainian father, and originally likened the political tensions between the two countries as a fight between siblings.

“In a certain way I can compare it to Vitaly and myself,” Wladimir continued. “If my older brother tells me ‘you got to do this in a way that I want you to do it’, I am going to tell him to chill because I have my own character, I have my own life, and I have my own opinion in the direction I want to go and nobody is going to force me.”

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He added: “It’s like a boxing match, if you are going to get too emotional you are definitely going to produce mistakes that are eventually going to cost even more damage.”

The Klitschko brothers have become one of the faces of the spirited Ukrainian defence, with plenty of sportspeople returning to their native land to help. Last week, reigning world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk left his post with Ukrainian territorial defence forces to begin preparing for his rematch against Anthony Joshua which set to go down in Saudi Arabia in June.

The Klitschko brothers decided to allow Usyk to fight Joshua – as it could have benefits for the Ukrainian defence. Wladimir admitted there were ‘pros and cons’ to giving Usyk an exemption, adding: “But to have the Ukrainian flag raised and our anthem played and one of our ambassadors of our country out there in the world, with the right mindset, could be more positive than negative.”

Ukraine have implemented martial law since the conflict began, which bans men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country. However, elite athletes have been awarded exemptions to compete on the world’s stage, although many of the nation’s athletes have joined the military.

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