Klitschko escapes serious injury in protest melee

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Vitali Klitschko displays his bloodied left hand after a protest in Kiev turned ugly. (Photo by Reuters)

Klitschko, heavyweight boxing champion and leader of Ukrainian political party UDAR, looks at blood on his hand as he walks away after police fired teargas during a rally in Kiev

BERN, Switzerland -- WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko was not seriously injured when a protest he attended in Kiev, Ukraine on Wednesday erupted in violence, Klitschko’s manager, Bernd Boente, told SI.com.

Klitschko, 40, a powerful political figure in the Ukraine, was there to oppose the new language law that enhanced the status of the Russian language in the former Soviet republic. Klitschko, the founder and leader of Udar, a political party that believes that Ukrainian should be the country's national language, was at the center of the protest.

The protest quickly turned violent, with police using batons and tear gas to subdue the crowd. Photographs show blood streaming from Klitschko’s left hand and him appearing to protect the hand as he is rushed out of the mob. However, Boente said that aside from the effects of the tear gas, Klitschko, who will defend his title on September 8th in Moscow against Manuel Charr, was “totally fine.”

Klitschko has said that after his fight with Charr he will turn his focus to the October Ukrainian elections, where his party will attempt to secure more seats in Parliament.

-- Chris Mannix