BERLIN (AFP) - Manuel Charr had been touted as the man who ended Germany's 85-year wait for a world heavyweight champion, but as it turned out, he is not a German citizen, for now.
After the 33-year-old's triumph against Alexander Ustinov landed him the vacant World Boxing Association world title on Saturday, questions have been raised about his nationality.
The Beirut-born son of a Syrian finally ended the speculation himself, admitting late Wednesday that he does not hold a German passport.
"I want to apologise to the German people," he told the Koelner Express, blaming his lawyers for the delay in obtaining German nationality.
"I have been relying on the work and advice of my lawyers, who were working on the process," he explained.
In a statement on Thursday, Charr said: "This time, I will deal with the passport application myself and not leave it to other people.
"I hope that I will then be able to defend my title as a German citizen," added the champion, who faces his first title challenge from Puerto Rico's Fres Oquendo by end-March.
Charr, who arrived in Germany as a five-year-old, had previously been evasive about his nationality.
He once said that he only has to drop by at the authorities to pick up his German passport, while on another occasion, said his naturalisation process had been put on ice.
The Koelner Express reported that Charr last applied for German citizenship in 2015, but was rejected.
Since then, he has not filed a new application.
But Charr insisted that he feels German through and through.
"For a long time I've felt in my heart that I'm German, and I want to fulfil all the government requirements in order to finally have this piece of paper in my hands," said the heavyweight champion.