Vitali Klitschko has been attacked with tear gas while involved in a protest in his hometown of Kiev, Ukraine.
The 40-year-old boxing heavyweight, whose brother Wladimir fights in Switzerland this weekend, had joined thousands of other Ukrainians in protesting a parliamentary bill which makes Russian, and not Ukrainian, the official language in some formal settings in the former Soviet republic.
Klitschko was photographed at the protests with blood coming from his right hand as he held his t-shirt to his face. Shortly after, the World Boxing Council, with whom Klitschko holds the heavyweight title, tweeted that the fighter had suffered a gash to his hand that had been treated. The WBC also confirmed Klitschko had been tear gassed, but was otherwise fine.
After tear gas was dispersed, the protests turned violent, with police reportedly baton-charging protestors.
The boxer, who is known for his admiration of modern western democracy, is currently running for mayor of Kiev. In February, he told SI.com:
“I have spent a lot of time in Germany, in western Europe, in the U.S. and I want the Western life standards for my country. Ukraine is a young democracy with huge potential, but it doesn’t have those standards. I don’t want to wait for changes in my country. I know what has to change.”
Klitschko will defend his WBC title on September 8 against Manuel Charr in Moscow. Unfortunately for the underdog Charr, he’ll be without tear gas.