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"I used to be a dreamer"

The Klitschko book is called "Wil, der Wolkenstürmer, und der Traum von Felsen," and it tells the story of an eight-year-old boy who wants to see the clouds from above.

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"I used to be a dreamer"

The Klitschko book is called "Wil, der Wolkenstürmer, und der Traum von Felsen," and it tells the story of an eight-year-old boy who wants to see the clouds from above. On his way, the hero of the novel is supported by animal companions and his girlfriend Janne in order to reach his goal.

The ex-boxing world champion wrote the children's book about willpower (published by Hamburg's Oetinger Verlag) together with Tatjana Kiel, managing director of Klitschko Ventures in Ottensen and the initiative

WELT AM SONNTAG: You both wrote a children's book about a boy who dreams of being able to fly. It's a story about willpower and courage. To what extent does Wil's story reflect your own biography?

Wladimir Klitschko: A lot of experience that I gained as a child and in my sports career has flowed into it. I was a dreamer like Wil, always wanted to try everything, discover new things. But as a child I didn't know how to do it.

Tatjana Kiel: Wladimir often told me about his childhood in what was then the USSR. He always said that to get out of there you had to be either an athlete or a politician. He wanted out.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Since then, Mr. Klitschko, you have taken on many roles: that of the longest-serving world champion in heavyweight boxing, doctor of sports science and founder of foundations and companies.

Klitschko: I used to think I knew exactly who I am. I was a boxer for three decades - but then suddenly I wasn't anymore. So the question arose: Who am I when I'm no longer a boxer? It took me a long time to define who I am. Today I know, I am a “challenge master”, i.e. a master at overcoming challenges. I still don't know exactly who I'll be tomorrow. I love diversity. I'm planning it, but who knows what the world will be like tomorrow?

WELT AM SONNTAG: Wil is supported by animal companions in not giving up his dream, but in pursuing it despite all the difficulties. How important are companions to you?

Klitschko: Ever since I was born, I have always had a loyal companion at my side: my brother Vitali. I don't know life without him, it would be unimaginable for me without him. In our children's book, every animal that Wil meets represents a specific characteristic. What we wanted to show is that you can only achieve your personal goals by knowing your own strengths and by teaming up with others.

I don't believe that such things as self-made men or women exist. In the end, it's about creativity, about creating something together. We are all dependent on each other and shaped by parents, siblings, friends. The basis for our personality is laid in childhood. As adults, we are the result of these experiences.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine you have been fighting side by side with your brother. The current situation has probably brought you closer together again?

Klitschko: Absolutely. But the war also made it clear to me that companions can leave you at any time. They die. But I believe good things can come from even such a heavy loss. When my trainer Emanuel Steward died in 2012, I suddenly had the feeling: his extensive knowledge shouldn't die with him. At that time, the desire to preserve knowledge arose and from this came the idea for the FACE method.

WELT AM SONNTAG: In 2020 you published a book on this. The method is based on the interaction of body and mind as well as the four eponymous principles of focus, agility, coordination and endurance, i.e. concentration, mobility, coordination and endurance.

Klitschko: I would never have managed that alone, without Tatjana. I have a vision and it is well executed. Because personality and important skills are established in childhood, we definitely wanted to publish our method as a children's book. This is how the idea for Wil, the cloud stormer came about.

Kiel: Wladimir has been working with children and young people with the Klitschko Foundation for 20 years. The most difficult point is always the focus, because a lot is dictated by parents and school. The question "Who do you want to be?" is not asked, but it is always about what job the child wants to take up in order to be successful. We should rethink that, even if the search for the answer can be frightening.

WELT AM SONNTAG: You started the book you just published before the war. How did the events affect your work?

Kiel: In terms of content, everything was already in place, but the attack on Ukraine naturally threw all our work into confusion. From then on, it was all about helping for me. Thanks to our team, the project continued. One thing was clear: it is not an option for a man like Putin to stop us from going our own way. That's why we thought with regard to the book: Now more than ever!

Klitschko:

For me, the war made it clear once again what life is about. We want to convey that in our book, for the children. In Ukraine we defend our values, which we share with the entire free world. That's why we're also expecting your support. Whatever goals – I mean creative, constructive goals, of course – you want to achieve: Everyone needs the support of others.

WELT AM SONNTAG: There has been a war in your home country for eight months. Children in particular go through severely traumatizing experiences that will accompany them throughout their lives.

Klitschko: The children in Ukraine are under enormous pressure. They don't know what's going to happen next, they live in great uncertainty, which causes enormous stress, all the time. Of course we didn't write our children's book for traumatized children. But I hope we can also publish it in Ukrainian and English. Ultimately, the story about Wil is one about how children become strong personalities, how we preventively strengthen our children for a life with obstacles, big and small.

One of the core principles of our FACE Method is agility – children are masters at adapting and making the best of circumstances, no matter how dire the circumstances. Children living in Ukraine and other war zones are going through the worst of experiences, dealing with unimaginable challenges. It made me realize once again that our method can actually help all people, old or young, anywhere - in peace or war.

Kiel: I have the feeling that in this volatile world we all no longer know where our place in life is. We can only find this if we make decisions. But this is only possible if we are aware of what is really important to us. And before we can know that, we need to know what our strengths are. In this respect, we have to strengthen our strengths - and concentrate less on our own weaknesses, as is often the case.

Ever since the war started, I look in the mirror in the morning and ask myself if I'm okay the way I am. We should always do that. The security of my home is very important to me. Hamburg is my safe haven. I'm from Berlin, but I feel at home here.

Klitschko: For me too, Hamburg is my base in Germany. It was here that I signed my first boxing contract as a young man. I associate many memories and people with the city.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Your home in Kyiv is currently very unsafe.

Klitschko: Also in relation to this: I'm experiencing again that people grow mentally when they leave or have to leave the comfort zone and enter the challenge zone. I'm feeling that the principles of focus, agility, coordination and endurance are helping right now, as well as routines. With positivity and purpose in mind, I keep going despite the expectation that things will only get worse. I will not give up, but achieve what I set out to do - because I know who I am.

WORLD ON SUNDAY: What do you wish for?

Klitschko: These are undoubtedly challenging times. My wish for our children is that they stay calm and don't lose their positive attitude. We're being shot at, we don't know what tomorrow will bring. It's extreme, and yet we get used to it. But the good thing is, you can't stop life. It is impossible to stop people who have the will to experience something, to set out and create something. A few days ago in Kyiv I saw children joyfully playing in a huge hole torn by a kamikaze drone.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Children have the ability to make the best of everything and live in the moment. Many adults forget this.

Kiel: Wladimir, you always quote: Children should get two things from their parents: roots and wings. The skills are the roots, but the challenges make the wings grow.

Klitschko: These are strange times: I was just walking through Kyiv with my brother in military uniform, then I was standing on a podium in Munich, asking for support, meeting important politicians and giving an interview. As we speak, I hold my phone in the hand that I hold my gun in other situations. I can wear many different hats, slip into different roles. But I don't forget who I am.

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