The Stats & Background on Vitali Klitschko

Vitali Klitschko

Getty Vitali Klitschko, 2022 recipient of the Arthur Ashe ESPY award.

Vitali Klitschko, the Hall of Fame boxer and mayor of Kyiv, is 6’7”.  He is 50 years old, and weighs 250 pounds, according to CA Knowledge.

ESPN announced on Tuesday, July 19 that Klitschko “will be honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2022 ESPYS on July 20 in Los Angeles (8 p.m. ET, ABC)”


More to Know About Klitschko

Vitali Klitschko, Manuel Charr

GettyUkraine’s two-time World Heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko (R) fights for the defense of his WBC heavyweight title.

In addition to his formidable size, Klitschko has a long and interesting resume. He has been the mayor of the capital of Ukraine since 2014. According to ESPN, he and his brother “developed their boxing skills in the Soviet amateur system. Both are considered all-time great heavyweights. Vitali, known for his granite chin and unwavering toughness, enjoyed two heavyweight title reigns.”

Klitschko told ESPN, “It is a great honor for me to receive this award.” He continued, “I am convinced that this is a recognition of the courage and inviolability of the Ukrainian people, who have been bravely resisting the Russian aggressor for more than 3 months. This is an award for everyone who defends the independence and freedom of Ukraine.”

While most boxers are renowned for the fights they win, ESPN explains that Klitschko is best known for a fight he lost. The bout occurred in 2003 against fellow heavyweight boxer, Lennox Lewis. The two were vying for the heavyweight championship title, with Klitschko slated as the underdog.  ESPN reports that Klitschko “was ahead on all three scorecards when the fight was stopped due to a gruesome cut over his left eye that required 60 stitches.”

Although the boxers wanted a rematch, it unfortunately never happened because Lewis retired. However, the Ukrainian earned the title of heavyweight champion anyway in 2004 after “an eight-round TKO of Corrie Sanders,” the outlet explains.


History and Significance of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award

Arthur Ashe Award

GettyArthur Ashe Award at ESPYS.

There is a reason Klitschko is so honored to receive the Arthur Ashe award. As ESPN explains, it “is one of the most prestigious in sports. Recipients reflect the spirit of Arthur Ashe, possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.”

The award was first presented in 1993 to basketball coach, Jim Valvano, better known as Jimmy V.  According to the Los Angeles Times, Valvano “brought a howling, teary-eyed Madison Square Garden to its feet with a heartrending speech at the inaugural ESPY Awards show.”

Here is the full list of winners of the award since its inception, from The Sporting News.

Year    Winner

2022    Vitali Klitschko

2021    Maya Moore

2020    Kevin Love

2019    Bill Russell

2018    “Sister Survivors” of USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal

2017    Eunice Kennedy Shriver

2016    Zaevion Dobson

2015    Caitlyn Jenner

2014    Michael Sam

2013    Robin Roberts

2012    Pat Summitt

2011    Dewey Bozella

2010    Ed Thomas

2009    Nelson Mandela

2008    Tommie Smith and John Carlos

2007    Trevor Ringland and David Cullen

2006    Roia Ahmad and Shamila Kohestani

2005    Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah and Jim MacLaren

2004    George Weah

2003    Pat and Kevin Tillman

2002    Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick

2001    Cathy Freeman

2000    William David Sanders

1999    Billie Jean King

1998    Dean Smith

1997    Muhammad Ali

1996    Loretta Claiborne

1995    Howard Cosell

1994    Steve Palermo

1993    Jim Valvano

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