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Ukrainian Vitali Klitschko to Receive Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2022 ESPYs

Photo credit: Press Office of Vitali Klitschko

ESPN announced Tuesday that Vitali Klitschko—former heavyweight boxing champion and current mayor of Ukrainian capital city Kyiv—will be honored with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2022 ESPYs in July.

Klitschko, who has been Kyiv’s mayor since 2014, took up arms when Russia invaded Ukraine in February, and he has continued to fight for his country ever since. He has been joined by his younger brother and fellow former world heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko, as well as current boxing stars Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk.

Klitschko said the following in response to winning one of the most prestigious awards in sports:

“It is a great honor for me to receive this award. 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 three months. This is an award for everyone who defends the independence and freedom of Ukraine.”

ESPN executive editor-at-large Rob King also commented on honoring Klitschko:

“Vitali’s poise and strength as his city and country faces unfathomable tests have far surpassed the incredible resolve he demonstrated as one of boxing’s top heavyweight champions. His commitment to the people of Ukraine has been a global inspiration, and his bravery is a prime example of the resilience of the human spirit. It is our privilege to bestow him with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.”

Before embarking on a political career, Klitschko established himself as one of the greatest heavyweight fighters in the history of boxing.

He turned pro in 1996 and fought through 2012, going 45-2 with 41 wins by way of knockout. He twice held the WBC heavyweight title and was also the WBO and The Ring heavyweight champion during his illustrious career.

As a result, Klitschko was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2018.

The 50-year-old will join a long list of sports stars who have been honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award over the years. NC State head men’s basketball coach Jim Valvano was the first recipient in 1993, followed by the likes of Muhammad Ali, Dean Smith, Billie Jean King, Bill Russell, Kevin Love and Maya Moore, among others.

The Arthur Ashe Award presentation will occur at the 2022 ESPYS, which will air live on ABC on July 20, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

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