The Brothers Klitschko:The Unfulifilled Pilgimage
By Ricardo Lucero: Standing well over 6 feet tall, the brothers hold Doctorates of Philosophy in Sports Science. The older brother is called “Dr. Iron fist.” The younger brother “Dr. Steelhammer.” Both ,with recent fights, can garner no less than 50,000 boxing fans in stadiums in Germany. Both have their faces on stamps. And most notably – both have dominated the Heavyweight Division for many years. Vitali Vladymyrovich Klitschko, the WBC current champion and his younger brother Wladimir, the IBF, WBO, IBO and the Ring Magazine current champion have already secured their places in the history of the sport.
Wherever they go in Europe they are followed like rock stars. Book a table in Ukraine and mention the name Klitschko and the restaurant owner will outright offer the dinner at his own house. They cannot go shopping in Germany without their fans following their every step. Well, they are not really hard to miss, given their imposing physical statures. And when either one fights, tickets are gobbled up in hours. It is how well known they are, to fans and to common folks, in Europe.
But in the U.S, when walking down the streets, aside from the fact that on most occasions, they tower above the average Joe, they can prettily much go about their business undisturbed. There are several occasions that some casual fans may recognize them. But then, most do not. Not in their immediate neighborhood, anyway.
So maybe they get to sign a few autographs.
“…hey man,what’s with the crowd?”
“…wer’re tryin’ ta get autographs and some pictures”
“…who from? that big guy?…ain’t he a wrestler or sum’thin?”
“…nah,i think he’s a russian boxer…or sum’thin.”
“…ivan drago eh?….wuz’ his name?
“…dunno…sum’body said kleeshow……….or sum’thin”.
You will never hear such a conversation in Ukraine, Austria, Germany or most of Europe.
This just shows how little-known the brothers are in the U.S.,aside from hard-core fans. Mike Tyson can’t go anywhere, I mean anywhere in America and in the world without being recognized. Even to those who don’t follow the sports of boxing. Ali can incite “bumaye” from people who’ve never even seen a professional boxing ring in their lives. On a side note, with Wladimir, it may not be so anymore, currently having a well-known female companion. But that’s another matter altogether.
When athletes dominate a sport and when they’ve been doing it for so long, the usual consequence is fame. Sometimes it goes beyond the boundaries of the sport. Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, Michael Shumacher are some of these prime examples. But there are those who might argue that Tyson’s misdeeds outside the ring are actually what made him famous .Now, I will beg to differ on that, because one has to be famous for his antics to be plastered on news pages. The argument being, if he is not that famous in the first place, who would really care what he does?
So fame, plays a part, a big part in setting up huge fights. Not just a big fan base, but enough pulling power to get that very casual fan to buy a seat or to pay for pay-per-view to see the fight. And that is one factor why the brothers cannot get huge fights in the U.S. It doesn’t really matter if they are not Americans. Filipino Manny Pacquiao faced a virtually unknown Ghanaian Joshua Clottey, but the numbers they generated was pretty impressive for a fight in which both combatants were not Americans. The brothers can fill up huge stadiums in Europe, but many doubt if they can pull the same feat in the U.S.
Conquer America,and one will conquer the World. The Mecca of Boxing – formerly the Madison Square Garden.
Nowadays, to most, Las Vegas, Nevada.
So, what’s missing? What key ingredient in their recipe is missing to get to cater to American taste?
A Joe might say – “well, to me they’re too boring to watch” The same has been said about Floyd Mayweather Jr., but he keeps surprising people with his big PPV numbers.
Another may say -“well, to me, they’re far too nice to be fighters.”
Oscar dela Hoya during his time,and more recently Manny Pacquiao are examples of the nicest fighters out there, yet their fan bases are huge. Is there a double standard here? Maybe or maybe it’s for another reason.
Maybe it’s the combination of both…..Boring and nice To most boxing fans, that is like saying – “sleeping pills.”
Because Floyd Mayweather, whatever excitement he lacks in the ring, he makes up for it out of the squared circle. And Manny Pacquiao, what he lacks in excitement in his personality, he makes up for it by his explosiveness in the ring.
One fighter in particular, proved that theory. David Haye. Not boring, not nice. Not boring to watch, simply because aside from his speed and haymakers and his powerful straight right, he himself can get KO’d at any moment. Not nice, because….well I think there’s no need to elaborate on that one. But he called American heavyweights – “blobs of fat”, for one thing. And he got the attention of the boxing world. He created a shortcut to a championship belt .Maybe this is the key ingredient. Because, admit it or not, David Haye knows how to sell a fight. Maybe with Haye’s salesmanship, his smartness of creating a lot of hype, maybe this fight could be big in the U.S. After all, a product is only as good as the publicity it gets. And in boxing, it’s the third fundamental element of a big fight – the fighters themselves, the fans and the hype.
Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Maybe people will watch the Klitshcko’s fight just for the sole reason of seeing David Haye get his backside handed to him.
Maybe the Klitschko brothers need a guide to light the way. Maybe not a guide, but a fellow voyager. A fellow pilgrim who posses a light to accompany them to their mutual destination, because the light of both brothers combined is still not enough. Another radiance from another source to augment theirs. Radiance generated from hype.
Will it be David Haye? Of all the other pilgrims, he may be the only one in possession of the brightest torch. Let’s just hope that he does not let that flame extinguish.
Vitali and Wladimir Vladymyrovich Klitschko have made many voyages in their careers. But one remains unfulfilled.
There’s still that one voyage, that one trip,..the pilgrimage.
To the Mecca of Boxing. America.