Larry Mantle |

The Klitschko brothers visit KPCC

This afternoon we welcomed heavyweight boxing champions Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko to our studios for an interview to be aired in a few weeks.  The brothers are doing interviews in advance of the opening of the new documentary, Klitschko, which features the back-story of how the pair became the first brothers to ever simultaneously capture all the heavyweight titles available.

I won’t bother recounting the interview, as you’ll have a chance to hear it in about three weeks.  However, I wanted to share with you what the brothers were like off-mic during their visit.

Wladimir greeted me by saying how much he appreciated my willingness to interview them, given how hard he’d heard it was to get a booking on AirTalk.  I told him the pleasure was mine and that I’d seen many of his and Vitali’s fights over the years.  I’m a big fan of both boxers and thanked them for coming to talk about the documentary and their careers.  Over the course of our 45-minutes together, I understood why the Klitschkos are generally well-liked in boxing.  They were pleasant and gracious.

This fits the pattern I’ve experienced with interviewing boxers.  Among my favorite AirTalk guests have been George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, and, now, the Klitschkos.

Wladimir is the younger brother and has a somewhat stronger command of English.  However, I had no problem understanding Vitali and was impressed by how passionate he was about his interests outside of boxing.

Vitali is a political activist in his native Ukraine, going so far as twice running for mayor of Kiev.  Though he finished as runner-up, Vitali’s intense opposition to the current government is so strong that I expect he’ll continue to look for political opportunities.  He and I talked politics for several minutes after we finished recording.  Vitali was passionate and pointed in his criticism of how Ukraine is being run, but optimistic about future reform.

This intersection between politics and boxing is fascinating.  The sport’s most popular draw, Manny Pacquiao, spends time between fights as an elected member of the Philippine Congress.  Like Vitali Klitschko, he seems driven by disappointment in how his country is representing the needs of its citizenry.