'Klitschko': Brothers And Boxers Who Fight Hard, But Never Each Other : Monkey See Scott Simon talks to the champion boxers at the center of a new documentary about them — in addition to both being title-holders, they also happen to be brothers.
NPR logo

'Klitschko': Brothers And Boxers Who Fight Hard, But Never Each Other

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/141604895/141615242" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'Klitschko': Brothers And Boxers Who Fight Hard, But Never Each Other

'Klitschko': Brothers And Boxers Who Fight Hard, But Never Each Other

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/141604895/141615242" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko are the first brothers to hold world boxing titles simultaneously.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: From Kiev, Ukraine, the reigning and defending IBF-IBO and two-time heavyweight champion of the world...

SIMON: The brothers are the subject of a new film directed by Sebastian Dehnhardt that spans their story from Kiev to Las Vegas and Santa Monica. And Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko join us now from the studios of NPR West. Gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us.

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO: Thank you for having us.

VITALI KLITSCHKO: Thank you for having us.

SIMON: The film opens, I guess it's in Kiev, when your family was living in a housing project, and it says - I think it's you, Vitali - saying you saw your first boxing match and you thought this is disgusting. What changed your mind, or has your mind really changed?

KLITSCHKO: I was young kid and one day boxing college come into school and ask all boys who want to be like Mohammed Ali? So strong, so good. And I was red as a (unintelligible). I was skinny, tall. And coach told me maybe another sport; maybe swimming, not boxing.

SIMON: That's fascinating to me that in the middle of Kiev in the old Soviet Union Mohammed Ali was your inspiration.

KLITSCHKO: Actually, Mohammed Ali made big (unintelligible) but I am very thankful for Mike Tyson. One day, we have a chance to see professional boxing matches in television. It was a world title.

SIMON: That was Mike Tyson, yeah.

KLITSCHKO: Mike Tyson. I was so impressed from the fight. I told to my friends one day I will be world champion. I'll beat the guy and take his title away. Everybody look on big boy with huge muscles, Mike Tyson; look on me, I was so skinny and starting to killing me. It's very important to have a dream and make a dream true.

SIMON: Wladimir Klitschko - so, what do we make of the fact in this film your mother says I can't believe my boys became boxers?

KLITSCHKO: Mother just, she couldn't really affect our choice because we're boys. But our father was number one fan that we had and mother's just supportive. She says whatever, guys, you do, I wish you good luck. Be good, be careful and just make the best out of it.

SIMON: The two of you are world champions but each of you have had a fight or two where you suffered some serious damage. I wonder if that ever made you think about walking away from boxing?

KLITSCHKO: Well, I have experienced Vitali's fight against Lennox Lewis here in Los Angeles in 2003 and I saw this big cut. And it was right on the left side.

SIMON: This is in the film, and we will - not to get too graphic - but that cut over Vitali's eye was so deep that the cotton swab disappeared in it.

KLITSCHKO: It wasn't pleasant. I was looking at this injury and I couldn't believe how deep the cut was and how much blood was there. And Vitali kept fighting. And it was tough to see your brother bleeding.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ladies and gentlemen, the bout is called to an end. Referee Lou Moret, acting on the advice of Dr. Paul Wallace at ringside, has called a halt to the contest because of severe injuries suffered by Klitschko.

KLITSCHKO: After this fight, Vitali just get stronger and better and he was continuing to follow his dream to become a champ and get the title that Lennox Lewis and Mohammed Ali had. I had two losses in my life during one year that was in 2003 and 2004. I got two losses, and that was great motivation actually to show, first of all, to myself that it's not OK what happened to me, but it was important for my ego to show that it actually was a mistake and I have learned from those mistakes. Something that doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

SIMON: Let me ask you both: why won't there ever be a Klitschko versus Klitschko match?

KLITSCHKO: We have gotten this question all the time in different (unintelligible). And our answer is still the same: we did promise our mom to not fight each other. If we fight each other, then the winner going to be loser because there is no one could win the fight. And you can play tennis with each other but you cannot play boxing. So, it's a serious business.

SIMON: Who's the better tennis player?

KLITSCHKO: Ping-pong player or chess, that what we actually do and did, and we'll continue probably to do in our life. But I have a question for you.


KLITSCHKO: Why do you want to see this fight?

SIMON: You know, I don't actually. I don't. I don't mind telling you - it's not up to me but I would be appalled by that.

KLITSCHKO: OK. Why did you ask?

SIMON: That's what we journalists do.


SIMON: We ask appalling questions sometimes.


SIMON: Each of you has a Ph.D.

KLITSCHKO: Yes. Vitali started first. I picked it up later on, in Ph.D. We do have Ph.D. in sports science. It's something that is great to have as an experience because I'm practicing the qualities that I got through the science. I'm using it in my preparations for future fights and still using it right now and actually giving the advice on diet and training programs also to my friends or acquaintances or any people that actually need it and wanted to use it.

SIMON: You're a painter too?

KLITSCHKO: Yes. I did my painting work first time. That was last year. And I'm very happy to say that it was auctioned, and it was auctioned actually for a lot of money and the money went to the charity. I liked a lot. It's artistic, it's art, it's creative. And eventually when I see the work and you understand that people are ready to pay a lot of money to buy this art and eventually you can also put the money in charity. It gives me certain motivation to continue that.

SIMON: Has it helped the two of you to have each other on this journey?

KLITSCHKO: Yes, of course. First point, sayings for my parents: they give me great present, my youngest brother. Because without brother, my life will be so boring. And I am very happy to have a young brother. And not everyone have brother who strongest man of the world, who is champion of the world. And I am very happy with that.

SIMON: Gentlemen, thanks so much. Very good talking to you.

KLITSCHKO: Scott, thank you very much.

KLITSCHKO: Thank you very much for the time and sorry for our not perfect English.

SIMON: No, no, no. You speak wonderful English, and a lot better than my Ukraine.


SIMON: "Klitschko," the documentary, is showing now at select theaters.


SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.