Wladimir Klitschko is now boxing’s dominant heavyweight since his older brother Vitali officially retired last year to pursue a political career in the Ukraine.
Wladimir is 38 and still much better than the rest of the division, as he proved in defending his four world titles with a fifth round stoppage of Australian Alex Leapai in Obertshausen, Germany, over the weekend.
Klitschko looks capable of retaining his title indefinitely but the 1996 gold medallist at the Atlanta Olympics has been dealt a knockout blow of a different kind because the Ukrainian national boxing federation has not given him permission to compete in the Olympic qualifiers for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games.
Under new Olympic rules, even world champion pros like Klitschko can compete at the next Games if they go through their country’s qualifiers. The Ukrainian federation said he has missed the deadline to enter.
Klitschko was anxious to compete in the next Games partly for sentimental reasons because his late coach Emanuel Steward had encouraged him to return to the Olympic arena when they were spectators at the 2012 London Games. Steward died of cancer three months later.
Klitschko has not yet given up hope of qualifying. “It was my joint dream with Emanuel and I hope I will be able to fulfil it,” he said. “I already have an Olympic title and it would be terrific to repeat this experience 20 years later.”