Vitali Klitchko was born in Kirghiztan on 19 July 1971 son of Vladimir and Nadia Klitchko. After finishing school, Klitchko studied sports sciences at the University of Kiev, Ukraine. He finished his studies with his doctorate.
After his PhD, Klitchko turned to boxing having been a fan of this sport for many years. In the Nineties he graduated from an amateur to professional status. In the Amateurs league he fought 210 matches in all, winning 195 of them, 80 with KO. In 1996 Vitali Klitchko married Natalia.
In 1998, Klitchko gained the WBO title of Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion. Also in 1998 he became European champion of his discipline, a title he kept until 1999. In 1999 he became WBO World Heavyweight champion, a title he held until 2000. In the course of his career as a professional, Klitchko fought a total of 28 matches, of which he won 27 by KO.
In addition to his boxing career Klitchko was also active in continuing his academic career in physical education. He published several treatises, e.g. about basic physical education. Klitchko is also sports instructor at the "Universum Box-Promotion GmbH" in Hamburg, Germany.
On 21 June 2003, Klitchko challenged the World Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis. He lost this sensational match in Los Angeles on "technical knock out"; the referee stopped the match in 6th round after a medical recommendation because of an injury to Klitchko's eyebrow. Though he had lost by TKO, Klitschko gained international respect for the fight, especially as it was later revealed that he had kept fighting despite sustaining an internal injury.
Klitschko earned an 8th-round TKO victory over South African Corrie Sanders on April 24, 2004, to capture the World Boxing Council Heavyweight Championship, which had been vacated by Lewis. Klitschko's first world title defense was against British boxer Danny Williams. However, on November 9, 2005, after a succession of injuries and a desire to leave the sport while still on top, Vitali Klitschko announced his retirement from professional boxing.
The former World Heavyweight Champion showed he had lost little of his power and skills after an absence of almost four years when he came back to the ring to beat Nigeria's Samuel Peter to regain the World Boxing Council title, in Berlin in October. The 37-year-old Ukrainian took the gamble of returning for a title fight without a warm-up, after retiring following a succession of training injuries. He said: "I knew if I lost I would not get a second chance. It was a one-way ticket and I used my chance."