Chess playing boxer Klitschko retains heavyweight title

3/12/2007 – Vladimir Klitschko is a Ukrainian IBF heavyweight world boxing champion with a PhD in sports science and an avid interest in chess. On Saturday he fought American challenger Ray Austin and dropped him with a flurry of left hooks 87 seconds into the second round. Next people hope to see a unification fight against WBC champion Nikolai Valuev. Watch Saturday's fight.

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Dr. Vladimir Vladimirowitsch Klitschko, who turns 31 in a two weeks, was born in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, but is Ukrainian by nationality. He turned professional under the management of a Hamburg promotional company and lived in Germany for a period of time. In October 2000 he won the WBO Heavyweight Championship from American Chris Byrd in Cologne, Germany (Byrd had won the title from Vladimir's brother Vitaly six months earlier). Vladimir defended the title five time and lost it in an upset TKO to South African Corrie Sanders in March 2003.

In April 2006 Klitschko again defeated Chris Byrd in Mannheim, Germany, for the IBF and the IBO world heavyweight championships. He went on to beat Calvin Brock in November 2006 at Madison Square Garden, and is now considered one of the finest heavyweight boxers in the world – the "man to beat" in the heavyweight division. His camp hopes for a unification fight against WBC champion Nikolai Valuev, Russia, who is 2.13 meter (7 foot) tall, and would be the first fighter Klitschko would look up to (Vladimir is 2.00 meter or 6' 7" in height). Valuev is managed by Don King and long, hard negotiations are expected.

Today Vladimir, who speaks fluent German, lives in Beverly Hills, California, where he trains with his older brother, former heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko. Both Klitschko brothers are avid chess players and have visited the ChessBase office in Hamburg.


Chess and boxing professionals play a game of tandem chess


Vitali Klitschko, Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Leko and Wladimir Klitschko before the Dannemann World Championship match in Brisago, 2004


The Klitschko brother in the ChessBase office


Vladimir playing a friendly game on Playchess.com against fellow Ukrainian Sergey Karjakin


Lost to Karjakin? Vladimir gets a copy of our beginners' program Fritz & Fertig


These two multilingual PhD-toting heavyweight boxers love to relax with chess


With Garry Kasparov after a hard-fought victory in Atlantic City


Two Vlads: IBF world champion Vladimir Klitschko and chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik immediately after the fight Klitschko vs Chris Byrd in 2006

The fight on Saturday night in Mannheim, Germany, was fairly onesided. Austin did not land a meaningful punch during the fight, and Vladimir Klitschko, to the best of our knowledge, did not throw any with his famous right hand. Instead he used left jabs and hooks to set up his opponent and then finished him off 87 seconds into the second round with a flurry of left looks. You can watch the video on YouTube:


ChessBase articles on boxing and chess

Chess and boxing champions
10.07.2004 77 days to go for the classical chess world championship between Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Leko (Sept. 25 to Oct 18 2004 in Brissago). The sponsors, the Swiss tobacco manufacturer Dannemann, have announced that the boxing champs Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko will be visiting the match. Press release.
Judgment day for chess players
05.08.2003 Muscles and chess are not mutually exclusive. We know that heavyweight champions Lewis and Klitschko are fans, but now we hear that superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger plays chess between shoots. This was revealed by a Spanish newspaper, and we found further evidence on a German chess site. Unfortunately your incompetent reporter let the biggest fish get away.
Chess players slug it out in Los Angeles
21.06.2003 Tonight two chess players are playing a World Championship match in Los Angeles. Not with knights and pawns but boxing gloves. The contenders are Dr. Vitaly Klitschko, chess fan from the Ukraine, and Britain's Lennox Lewis, the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, who is possibly the stronger chess player. Tip: you can watch this match free (in Europe)! Links and details are here...
Heavyweight Camp supports school chess team
13.05.2003 We know that, just like the Klitschkos, world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis is an avid chess fan. In fact Lewis actually adopted an elementary school team and donated $14,000 towards their chess training. Now the The Oakhaven Lennox Lewis Chess Team has repayed him with a first place in the USCF National Elementary Championships in Nashville. More...
Chess Boxing: the Tokyo Fight
03.05.2004 Last year Iepe the Joker won the World Chess Boxing Championship. Now Iepe (29, 1.80m, 74kg) has defended his title against a Japanese challenger, Soichiro the Cho-Yabai (22, 1.77m, 70kg) in a bout staged at the famous "Time & Style" venue in Tokyo. Pictorial report...
You thought we were making it up?
05.12.2003 "Is it April 1st?", a number of readers asked. Chess boxing? Putting players in a boxing ring for chess and boxing? The crowd screaming for blood and piece sacrifices? Our recent report described the setup, now the organisers have sent us a report and pictures to prove that they are really serious about this new discipline.
Chess boxing: Kramnik vs Klitschko?
02.12.2003 Is chess too boring for you? Those crafty Dutchies have found a way to finally resolve the impasse in the chess world. Put the players in a boxing ring, let them play for four minutes and then duke 'em up for a round with the gloves. Hmmm, Vladimir Kramnik loses badly to Vitaly Klitchko in the FIDE classical world chess boxing championship final? We are not joking.
Time Magazine on 'Brawn and brains'
02.12.2002 He's 6 foot 8 1/4" (2,00 m) and packs 245 lbs (112 kg) of pure muscle. Like his brother he is a professional boxer – and a keen chess player. Vitaly Klitschko, 31, is challenging Lennox Lewis, heavyweight champ of the World Boxing Council early next year. To a boxing match and a game of chess. Contrary to the Time Magazine report we believe that Lewis will win – the chess game, that is.
Another chess player climbs into the ring
28.06.2002 We told you about Lennox Lewis's love of chess (see 09.06.2002 below). On Saturday another brainy boxer, Wladimir Klitschko, will fight for the WBO Heavyweight Title in Atlantic City – with Garry Kasparov watching. In a future match against Lewis, Klitschko has suggested the two should play a game of chess before the fight – with Garry Kasparov watching. More
Lennox Lewis beats Tyson with white (shorts)
09.06.2002 Last night the British heavy-weight champion Lennox Lewis masterfully defeated Mike Tyson. Lewis is not just physically awesome, he is also a cerebral human being who loves nothing more than a good game of chess. "I see him sitting there for ten minutes thinking four moves ahead before he makes one," says his baffled trainer Emmanuel Steward. A year ago Lewis took on Telegraph editor Dominic Lawson in chess. You will find a vivid description of their two-game fight here.
Squaring up to Lennox Lewis
05.02.2002 Everyone knows that Lennox Lewis is the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world, but also an obsessive chessplayer. Last week Lewis might have lost the chance to defend his title against Mike Tyson (after the former champion was stripped of his licence for trying to eat Lennox's leg at a press conference), so instead he decided to accept the challenge of a Telegraph editor Dominic Lawson to a battle over the 64 squares of the chessboard. You will find a vivid description of the two-game match here.
You definitely do not want to hide this man's chess set
19.11.2001 When trainer Emmanuel Steward wants to get Lennox Lewis upset and in the right frame of mind for a big fight, he hides the Briton's chess set. This is what he did ahead of Saturday's heavyweight title fight rematch with Hasim Rahman. "I honestly don't like him playing chess,'' moaned Steward, ''I mean I see him sitting there for ten minutes thinking four moves ahead before he makes one. And he actually does the same thing in the ring – he thinks to much.'' Steward, who has worked with many world champions, has often criticized Lewis for being too cautious, for treating a fight as if it were a game of chess -- becoming too cerebral and not physical enough. More...

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