A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidan’s three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the country’s stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard – and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.
People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.
After much delay and posturing, British boxer David Haye will finally fight the world heavyweight champion Volodymyr Klichko on 2 July. It brings Ukraine and Britain together in the biggest sporting contest between the two nations ever staged. Ukraine’s sporting icon wants to record his 50th win in Hamburg, whereas Haye wants to claim the scalp of a boxing king. It’s been billed as the biggest match in years, with 150 countries tuning in. The tense exchanges between the two fighters have added fuel to the fire. Adrenalin pumping, What’s On previews the fight.
AHaye / Klichko match has been on the cards for years. It had originally been scheduled for 2009, but Haye had to pull out through injury. Ever since then, the two parties have been wrangling over contract terms, such as who gets star billing. But now the contract has finally been signed and a date set. The fight’s on.
Different Men, Different Styles
Cocky Brit versus classy Ukrainian is how the boxing world sees the bout on 2 July. In terms of ability, they’re fairly even. The Brit is WBA title holder and the Ukrainian is IBF and WBO champion. Victory for either man would unify the belts, but a Haye win would catapult him into boxing stardom, alongside the Klichko brothers. Haye is not the favourite to win, but he is capable, confident, and is widely predicted to be Klichko’s toughest competitor yet. However, many sporting analysts still have their money on Volodymyr.
Together with a difference in styles (Klichko’s methodical jabs are famous), there’s also a difference in age and experience between the two fighters. At the age of 30, and aiming to retire before he turns 31, Haye now has 25 wins, compared to Klichko’s 49 wins by knockout. The 35-year-old Ukrainian, standing at 6ft 7in, has been champion for five years now, and takes it all in his stride. He seems unfazed by the taunts of the challenger, and has not (publicly) risen to the bait.
Part of the fun of a fight is watching the two come together before a match, for press conferences and promotional events. The bravado and body language is well-known, with the cameras loving the intense eye-to-eye stare. He who blinks first, etc. Listening to the ridiculous things fighters say about each other is also good entertainment. Delusions of grandeur abound. They talk about themselves as if they were made from granite, and belittle their opponent.
If boxers were more intelligent, their verbal jousting could even be called psychological.
Brawn not Brains
Unfortunately most have been hit in the head one too many times, and the things they come up with seldom have any memorable effect. Occasionally fighters show a flair for the pre-match win. Mohammed Ali was brilliant at it; almost everyone remembers him saying he “floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee”. It was simple imagery, but it worked. Similarly, Ali managed to get under the skin of his opponents, notably Joe Frasier, whom he called “a gorilla”. It was a crass and idiotic insult, but it aggravated Frasier, and still does to this day.
Haye and Klichko are not quite in the same league as The Champ, but Haye has played the part of cocky upstart perfectly. His more sensible analysis of Klichko is that the Ukrainian has a weak chin and he postulated as to the surgical requirements for strengthening it. He claimed also that Klichko picked fights with boxers who were either injured or just returning from injury, and that this time the Ukrainian would be fighting a boxer “in his prime”. So far, so dull.
Haye then went on to call Klichko a “fraud” and a “robot” adding that he was “manufactured and boring”. He expanded on the robot analogy, saying that his “circuits would be blown” on fight night. Whilst it wasn’t quite Ali, it was better. He also honed in on the manufactured argument too, telling us how Klichko had “killed the heavyweight division” by being “an Eastern European fighter with no personality and no fun”. No need to get racial, David.
Haye then decided to focus inwards, likening himself to a “dog that can’t be controlled”. That may have sounded good when he was drafting it, but he perhaps didn’t realise that Ukrainians know a thing or two about wild dogs, so again – unlikely to bother the robot. Haye then promised to knock the big man out before the 12 rounds were up, and just for good measure, he childishly refused to shake Klichko’s hand at both of the two press conferences in May.
Klichko has conducted himself very differently, and has been measured and respectful. So much so in fact, that he may as well have appeared in a dressing gown and slippers, smoking a pipe and reading the paper. You get the impression he wouldn’t have said anything at all, given the choice – merely beckoning the Brit over with his hand, menacing smile on his face. But given that the press and sponsors wanted something to get excited about, he managed to tell Haye that he “lacked respect” and promised to give the youngster “a lesson”. Less is more, according to this line of thought. Or perhaps Haye’s right about the lack of personality.
Either way, it’s the fight we’re all waiting to see, and as the saying goes: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
No, it’s the gloved fists that will hurt you, and these two both possess sufficient fire-power to deliver a crunching knockout. Will the weak chin of the Ukrainian be exposed? Will the Brit discover the Rambo movies only ended as they did because they were scripted to? We wait with baited breath for the cocky challenger (‘cock’ for short) to take on the Ukrainian giant. Britain versus Ukraine: may the best nation win.
Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they don’t understand the meaning of these words.
Pulling Strings Located on Hrushevskoho Street – the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades – children’s favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. What’s On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.