Geopolitical Pugilism: Part One


By Brian Fogg

Geopolitical Conflict has hit close to home in the boxing world. So close that an icon of pugilism is not only involved but maintaining a front line in what feels like a flashback to the constant onslaught of Cold War fear. The bloodshed comes as usual in history, with two side’s staunt beliefs to one political ideology or another. East vs. West.

 

September 8th 2012

Vitali Klitschko vs Manuel CharrHeadlines read, “Heavyweight titlist, Vitali Klitschko wins lopsided fight with stoppage in Moscow.”

On that day he defeated an over-matched Manuel Charr. This would be the last fight of his boxing career. It was a long time coming for the 41-year-old. Despite not having his skills greatly diminished, no man with grey hair belongs in the squared circle.

This was the end. A bow on top of a gift of a career. His career spanned 16 years, seven countries, and 13 titles defenses. A hall of fame resume in any regards and if he were to not do another thing in his life he would be remembered for many years as this while going down in the boxing folklore that the old-timers so love to speak of. But this is career is rather insignificant to what effect he may have on the world.

 

April 2010

After mixed success in politics, Vitali Klitschko starts new political party, the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform or UDAR. It is a collaboration of a few of the political parties in the country. They maintain a center-right ideology that supports free trade but focuses more on issues regarding corruption and human rights issues in their country.

Their party constitution on states that :

“The purpose of the Party is to promote the formation and expression of political
and citizens will participate in the development of Ukraine in open civil society on
on liberty, self-government , rule of law , following the principles of democracy and creating conditions for economic recovery and growth in Ukraine power of the state and welfare of citizens.”

Which in whole does not say much but does express their desire for democracy.

The party supports a future for their country that is more less based on connecting with the rest of Europe and the European Union.  This is a sharp contrast to the previous trend in the country, who instead maintained a close relationship with their neighbor to the east, Russia. They also mention some basic freedoms for their citizens on multiple occasions while stressing civil liberties and justice.

Another facet of the party is to change the working constitution into something similar to what it had said previously to 2004, in giving more power to Parliament while taking some executive power away from the president.

 

October 24th 2013

Now a parliamentary leader, Klitschko announced his intent to for his candidacy for president. Controversy quickly rose in regards to where he held his residency, being that he lives in both Germany and Ukraine. That issue was averted with him giving up his German residency.

Initially, despite being from the fastest growing political party and being the de-facto leader of parliament,  he was considered to be a heavy underdog in the race with polls showing him with as little as 4% support. As of last month an organization called SOCIS ran a poll finding that he had gained much ground in the race and was now up to 15%, making him the second leading candidate. It is noted that 15% of Ukrainians stated that they would not vote at all out of protest according to this poll.

Also, no accurate polling has been done in the last month due to process problems across the nation with polls coming with data in sharp contrast to each other.

 

The start of Euromaidan: November 21st 2013

The Ukrainian people began a public anti-government protest in their Independence Square, much of which was organized through Twitter. Klitschko although being the most notable political figure in favor of the protests does not necessarily agree with everything that the protesters are asking for. In what started in a protest of Ukrainian involvement with Russia also has stemmed into corruption and human rights violations.

On this first night nearly 2,000 people came in protest of President Yankovych’s decision to deny the country’s attempt in joining the EU (European Union.) This came as no surprise after Yankovych signed a pact with Russia saying that Ukraine would receive $5 billion and a natural gas price subsidy in exchange for an agreement to join their Customs Union.

Photo Courtesy of Huffington Post

Photo Courtesy of Huffington Post

These protests held place and began to grow, now in late December were bringing in crowds reportedly as large as 200,000 (which is on the high end and seems highly unlikely to most reports) but yet consistently groups of 20,000 people. In this month aggression began between the police force and the protesters with multiple cited injuries but in a classic “chicken or the egg” predicament we are unable to point a finger at who may have drawn blood first.

After the event Klitschko said, “People do not want to live in a police state.” Thus ruffling even more feathers but evidently not enough being that the violence ensued.

On December 17th Putin and Russia bought $15 billion in Ukrainian bonds and lowered the natural gas prices even more. Thus squishing the possibility of Yankovych ever siding with the western world.

Klitschko said, “He has given up Ukraine’s national interests, given up independence and prospects for a better life for every Ukrainian.”

On January 16th the Parliament passed anti-protest laws reading that anyone who were to blockade a government building could be sentenced to ten years in prison and one year sentences for slandering public officials.

They continued to protest with what BBC reported as “similar to a music festival, with barricades.”

The support from the western world began to come with speakers such as John McCain and John Kerry speaking out in distaste against the Ukrainian government. Putin began to blame the United States and the European Union for their actions in supporting this and this took a turn into real Cold War deja-vu for a generation of the world’s population.

 

These incidents are the precursor to the events that have taken place this week but being that much since the beginning of the riots is still rather undecipherable and it may feel like an information overload if all was put in here at once. Therefore I will refrain from posting that in this article and keep it for a follow up, or part two, later this week.

It is also understood that some will think that this is not necessarily a boxing article, for that I apologize but I do disagree with that thought. Albeit a crossover, it is important to find connections from our small world into the real one going on outside of our heads. Although the connection is bleak, without this we would be stuck in a situation where we would be staring into a spoon, incapable of garnering outside thought without the needed insight into how the world sometimes works.

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