Rudyard Kipling’s famous words about keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs couldn’t apply more to Wladimir Klitschko. In the mad world of heavyweight boxing, with its brawls, bragging and ballooning egos, he and his brother Vitali have remained both dignified and in possession of every world title on the planet. Here’s how Wladimir does it…
What’s the toughest element of your pre-fight training regime?
Finding the right sparring partners. Otherwise, it’s enjoyable. I love every second of being an athlete.
What do you look for in a sparring partner?
Competition, for a fight. You’re going to be as good as your competitors. The better they are, the better I am.
Do you hold back?
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I’m going through drills – my sparring partners don’t know about it – so I can’t always go 100 per cent. However, sometimes we are going 100 per cent, though we have bigger equipment, protective equipment, such as head guards and use the 20oz gloves instead of the 10oz ones.
What’s the balance in your pre-fight training between weights, bag-work, road-work and sparring?
It hasn’t changed in years. I do more sparring than anything else. I do no running. There is nothing that can help me but sparring.
You don’t do weights?
No. I’ll get too big.
You have no upper weight limit, but are you careful about your weight anyway?
I have no chance to get fat. I love wakeboarding, kite-surfing, snowboarding and golf. All the activities that I do keep me in good shape between fights.
You’re a champion – what’s the breakfast of champions?
I have double porridge with green tea and orange juice. The rest of the day I have two meals: lunch and dinner, and they are soups, salads, steak, or pasta and fish. I love sushi. A New York steak is good, too.
There is often a lot of trash talk before a fight. Is it hard to keep your emotions in check?
It was very tough to back up when [Dereck] Chisora spat in my face. I cannot even tell you how tough it was, but I’m thankful that I didn’t do anything. Because even though it was tough to take, a bitter pill, and even though it made me sick for three days, it was the right decision. You know my abilities. I would’ve given him the right answer.
Do you think you would have reacted differently when you were younger?
I guess so.
Do you undertake any mental preparation before a fight?
Yes. It doesn’t matter how many muscles you have, how strong you are, or your technique and tactics, you have to be mentally prepared. And that’s the most important thing.
Do you have a psychologist?
Experience. You can gain it only with experience.
What do you do to relax while training?
A bottle of beer makes me happy. Alcohol-free [laughs]. I watch a lot of movies and TV shows: Entourage, Dexter, The Sopranos, Californication, Game Of Thrones, Prison Break, Lost.
Is there competition between you and your brother Vitali that helps motivate you?
Always. We’re different now, but we’ve been so competitive with each other and we just want to show each other that we can do things better than the other one. But it’s healthy competition because Vitali and I push each other.
Is it the same away from boxing?
Everything. Especially chess. We get very emotional. I hate to play chess with my brother, because if I lose, I feel bad for a week. If he loses, he feels the same.
Did you ever spar together?
Yeah, we did. I broke my leg the last time we sparred together. It’s not normal, right? How can you break a leg in boxing?
You say that when you spar, you don’t hold back – was it like that with your brother?
When we used to spar with each other, it was bad blood. It was bloody, nasty, because nobody wanted to give up or back up, so that’s why we stopped. Because we were going to do severe damage to our health.
To improve speed, I chase chickens [like in the Rocky films]. I train in the Austrian Alps, and there are farmers with a lot of chickens. It works.
Klitschko is available on Blu-ray and DVD on May 28, 2012 from Universal Pictures (UK)
(Image: Rex Features)