Boxing body says Ukraine's Klitschko to run for president

KIEV Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:53pm BST

UDAR (Punch) party leader Vitaly Klitschko (C) takes part in a rally in Kiev May 18, 2013. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

UDAR (Punch) party leader Vitaly Klitschko (C) takes part in a rally in Kiev May 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian heavyweight boxer and opposition politician Vitaly Klitschko will run for president in the 2015 election, the World Boxing Council quoted him as saying on Wednesday.

The move - which has yet to be confirmed by Klitschko - would make him the first declared contender against incumbent Viktor Yanukovich, who is widely expected to seek a second term and, possibly, other opposition leaders.

Pollster Gfk Ukraine said in May that Klitschko had the same level of support as Yanukovich, with each politician backed by 16 percent of voters as a potential presidential candidate.

"Vitaly explains that he wants to keep participating in politics and run for the presidency of his country... in 2015," the WBC said on its website, quoting him speaking at a meeting with WBC President Jose Sulaiman in Mexico.

Klitschko's spokeswoman Oksana Zinovyeva declined to comment on the WBC report - which focused on Klitschko's right hand injury that will prevent him from taking part in a previously scheduled fight to defend his WBC title.

Klitschko, 42, launched his political career in 2005 by running - unsuccessfully - for mayor of the Ukrainian capital Kiev and setting up a pro-Western liberal party known by its abbreviated name UDAR which means "punch" in Ukrainian.

UDAR won 40 seats in Ukraine's 450-seat parliament in last year's election, making it one of the leading opposition parties.

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov and Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Alison Williams)

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