BERLIN – Former heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko announced his immediate retirement from boxing on Thursday.
The 41-year-old Klitschko dominated the heavyweight scene for a decade but lost to Britain's Anthony Joshua in April after a technical knockout in the 11th round. He had been expected to face Joshua in a rematch in November.
In a statement released by his management on Thursday, Klitschko said: "As an amateur and a professional boxer, I have achieved everything I dreamed of, and now I want to start my second career after sports."
He said that he had deliberately taken a few weeks to reach a decision "to make sure I had enough distance from the (first Joshua) fight at Wembley Stadium."
Klitschko was 64-5 in a career that began in 1996 after he won the Olympic gold in Atlanta.
The Ukrainian racked up notable wins over the likes of David Haye and Ruslan Chagaev, but lost his titles to British fighter Tyson Fury in 2015 and was unable to reclaim the WBA and IBF belts against Joshua.
Klitschko followed his older brother Vitali Klitschko into boxing. Both found immediate success in the professional ring, and held all of the main heavyweight titles between them when Vitali Klitschko retired in 2013.
They never fought each other, saying that would break a promise to their mother.
The Klitschko brothers' hard-hitting style inside the ring and relaxed, multilingual approach outside it made them famous beyond boxing. Wladimir Klitschko even made a cameo appearance in a 2007 romantic comedy movie in the brothers' adopted home of Germany.
He also followed his older brother into politics, addressing crowds alongside his fiancee, the U.S. actress Hayden Panettiere, during anti-government protests in Ukraine in 2013. Vitali Klitschko has since become mayor of the Ukrainian capital Kiev.