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Ukraine boxing hero Klitschko claims Kiev mayor seat

Published on May 26, 2014 6:00 AM
Leader of UDAR party and former heavyweight boxer Vitali Klitschko speaks during his press conference at Poroshenko's election headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine on 25 May 2014. -- PHOTO: EPA

KIEV (AFP) - Ukraine’s burly boxing hero and strident protest leader Vitali Klitschko claimed victory on Sunday in Kiev mayoral vote that cements his role as a statesman for the country’s post-Soviet generation.

“All change will begin in Kiev,” the former heavyweight champion declared after exit polls gave him 57 per cent of the capital city’s vote.

The two-metre-tall titan who never suffered a knockdown in his stellar heavyweight career was Ukraine’s most popular figure at the height of the protests that toppled a Russian-backed regime in February.

But the 42-year-old’s star faded once the old president fled to Russia and voters began searching for others with similar pro-Western leanings but a bit more experience in dealing with delicate diplomatic and economic affairs.

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