WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, who is also a top Ukrainian opposition leader, says he will run for the ex-Soviet nation's presidency in 2015. The 42-year-old was elected to parliament last fall as the head of his pro-Western party Udar ("Punch" in English). Since then, Klitschko campaigned against what he calls authoritarian moves by President Viktor Yanukovych.
He particularly criticized the jailing of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, which was seen as politically motivated by the West. Klitschko announced his widely expected presidential bid Thursday in response to efforts by pro-government forces to pass a bill that could prevent him from running because he has permanent residency status in Germany.
Klitschko vowed that he "will not be frightened or stopped by this."
The moves signals that Klitschko's boxing career is coming to an end in the near future. He has yet to defend his title in 2013 and it appears 2014 might be his final year in the sport. Canadian slugger Bermane Stiverne is his mandatory challenger.