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Fact Check-Wladimir Klitschko auctioned his 1996 Olympic gold medal in 2012

Former world heavyweight champion boxer Wladimir Klitschko auctioned his 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games gold medal in 2012 to raise money for Ukrainian children. However, social media posts have confused users into thinking the sale was more recent, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A Facebook account with more than 800,000 followers posted the story about Klitschko’s medal on March 14 (here). The post has since been shared more than 700 times.

It said: “Wladimir Klitschko has auctioned off his 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games gold medal to raise money for the children of Ukraine. He received around 1 MILLION dollars. The buyer gave Klitschko the medal back instantly when he heard what Wladimir was using the money for.”

In comments left underneath, other users appeared to suggest the charitable act took place around the time of the post, during the Russian invasion that began on Feb. 24.

One user wrote: “This is the role model I have been waiting for fore [sic] my kids. He needs to have a statue erected to him as the freedom fighter of Ukraine. Long live Ukraine and President Biden needs to get off his ass and get military assistance to Ukraine!!!!”

Another said: “A millionaire asking another millionaire for million for his country could of [sic] cared that much great pr tho [sic].”

Similar posts can be seen on Facebook (here, here and here) and Twitter (here). The story was also reported on by Fox Sports Australia on Mar. 10 this year (here).

It is true that Klitschko sold his gold medal, which he won for super-heavyweight boxing – but he did so in 2012.

Speaking to CNN on July 26, 2012, the then 36-year-old said: “I did sell the medal in March (2012) and 100% of the funds, which is $1 million, went to the Klitschko Brothers Foundation – we care about education and sport, that is the key in any children's life.” (here).

He was pictured on March 29 with his brother Vitali, now the mayor of Kyiv, ahead of the sale at the auction in the Ukrainian capital (bit.ly/3tYYp1r).

According to Boxing Scene, the buyer returned the medal to Klitschko as a token of respect here and bit.ly/3tWBuE1).

Reuters has approached the Klitschko Foundation for comment (here).

VERDICT

Missing context. Wladimir Klitschko did auction his 1996 Olympic gold medal; however, this took place in March 2012.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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