Rare Footage Of Vitali Klitschko In A Kickboxing Fight Against Ryushi Yanagisawa
Vitali Klitschko is a three-time boxing heavyweight world champion, known for a hugely dominant period where he retired with the title, but in his younger years he was also an excellent kickboxer.
The Ukrainian, brother of fellow former heavyweight champ Wladimir, first won a world title in 1999, before picking up world championship belts in 2004 and once again in 2008, having vacated the title in 2005 to temporarily retire.
Unbeknown to many, the elder Klitschko also had a decent amateur kickboxing career in the early 90s and footage of him beating Japanese MMA fighter Ryushi Yanagisawa has emerged online.
Vitali Klitschko fighting in Pancrase under Full Contact rules.
Oh yes it happened. pic.twitter.com/VPKQGTGAFV
- Cerebral Vigilante (@Delisketo) April 21, 2020
The fight was under the Pancrase banner, an MMA promotion in Japan founded by professional wrestlers Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, under WKA's 'special rules' which meant no low kicks.
Klitschko won the fight on points after five rounds, having knocked Yanagisawa to the ground once in the second round, twice in the third, again in the fourth round, then a fifth time in the final round.
The now 48-year-old was actually a six-time kickboxing world champion, winning amateur world championships twice and professional tournaments on four occasions.
Yanagisawa had a long MMA career, mainly with Pancrase, and even fought former UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture in 2000.
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Vitali is now a politician in his home country and currently serves as Mayor of Kiev and head of the Kiev City State Administration.
He dominated boxing's heavyweight division along with his brother Wladimir during the 2000s until he retired in 2012, with his brother continuing to compete until 2017.
The elder boxer lost to Lennox Lewis, in Brit's final fight in 2003, but won a world title for the second time after Lewis' retirement, by beating Corrie Sanders.
He retired for the first time following his defence against Danny Williams, due to injury, but was granted the status of 'champion emeritus' by WBC, meaning he could fight for their world title if he decided to return.
In 2008 he came out retirement to beat Samuel Peter to become world champion for the third time and defended the title nine times over four years before retiring in 2013 after beating Manuel Charr.
Bermane Stiverne eventually won the vacated title in 2014 but lost it in his first defence to Deontay Wilder and the Bronze Bomber's reign was eventually ended earlier this year by Tyson Fury.
You can watch the full kickboxing fight from Klitschko below: