Sure, world champion boxer Vladimir Klitschko lives in Hamburg, Germany, in Florida, USA, and also in the air, he says. But his heart swells with joy when he sets foot in Kiev. He sees a city where the future grapples with the past and feels the compunction to help wherever he can – and also to revisit his favorite spots again and again
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The last wave of sultry summer weather hangs heavy in the streets. This place is hot – and that’s not just because the girls wear their skirts outrageously short. Kiev is wearing a smile and the big man is beaming.
"I am Vladimir," says Vladimir, shaking your hand and, fortunately, releasing it in one piece. He is a friendly person. If you ever thought that boxers were bloodthirsty dimwits who would
happily pummel you into a coma, today is the day you learn otherwise.
Dr. Steelhammer knocks out the past
What a story! Back in 2004, Vladimir Klitschko stood on Independence Square and told 200 000 protesters: "The people decide and no one else!"
A river that is often the city’s sea of tranquility: Vladimir used to swim in the Dnepr as a boy. "I love this river," he says, "the pace of life in Kiev is less hurried because of it." In some places the banks are so far apart it has earned itself the nickname "Kiev Sea."
Two fists and a hallelujah:
"I used to be a communist, my faith came later. Marx described religion as the opium of the people," says Vladimir Klitschko. He helped to rebuild St. Michael’s Abbey.
Tradition & modernity
"Kiev is moving forward very, very fast now." says Vladimir. But even if one skyscraper follows the next, there are still many places in Kiev where the old Ukraine is alive and well, as anyone will discover who takes the trouble to look – for example here at the souvenir market.
When the locals feel like demonstrating their great desire for freedom, they may sometimes do so in very different ways, for instance by strolling down the Chreshtshatik, which has a wonderful southern atmosphere – especially in the evening.
Not light, but delicious – that’s how connoisseurs describe Ukrainian cuisine. Vladimir Klitschko enjoys inviting his friends out to dinner on the Khutoroko restaurant boat, where he invites them to enjoy borsht, kwas and blinis.
Pictures: Bernd Jonkmanns