On April 29th, Wladimir Klitchko came out on the wrong side of a pulsating war with Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium.
Such was the magnitude of the fight and the subsequent global reaction, 'there were no losers', or so the narrative went. Klitschko had failed to win back world heavyweight honours but had finally emerged as a transcendent figure, demonstrating to the masses what ardent boxing fans had known to be the case all along: the Ukrainian is an all-time heavyweight great, a thoroughly decent man, and warrants acclaim as opposed to curiosity or indifference.
Joshua, meanwhile, retained his title and proved his mettle, ascending to stratospheric status on both sides of the Atlantic - a rare feat for a British fighter.
A beaten and always-humble Klitschko has remained relatively quiet since that famous London night, but today wrote an extremely candid and insightful article on his LinkedIn page in which he described coming to terms with both defeat and the overwhelming nature of the praise he received following this defeat.
As much as it might make sense to either casual fans or connoisseurs of the sweet science that a gallant, balls-to-the-wall loss can bear a better impact on a fighter's career than a routine victory, it's rare that a consummate winner such as Klitschko would reach the same conclusion. And yet, five weeks on, the Ukrainian great has explained how he's done just that:
Sadly, I failed to achieve my goal. The outcome was that my opponent won the fight. But despite this, and however absurd it may sound, I also left the ring victorious.
In the run-up, I was 100 percent certain that I would win the duel. I had prepared as well as I could and felt I was in the best form of my life; winning back the title of World Champion was my obsession. I gave it everything during the fight. I managed to get up several times after being knocked down. I was even able to send my opponent to the canvas. But, in the end, it was Anthony Joshua who struck the decisive blow and left the ring victorious. I failed to achieve my goal of winning, but I did in fact gain much more than this. I never thought I would say such a thing, but: in defeat, I achieved much greater success than I would have had I won. Fans and sports enthusiasts worldwide are celebrating my performance and showing me their appreciation. Even my opponent expressed his respect for me.
The responses that I received and continue to receive after this night of boxing are overwhelming. Commentators reported that I showed greatness even in defeat. Journalists wrote repeatedly that I left the ring a hero, despite my loss: "Klitschko appeared greater in defeat than he has ever managed in victory."
After years of constantly preparing myself up for victory, this is a completely new experience. I now understand that success does not necessarily mean achieving a set goal. Instead, success means achieving the best possible result. Sometimes we cannot see beforehand what the best possible result might be.
Dr. Steelhammer goes on to make a number of amusing comparison between he and the respective inventors of the Post-it note, the teabag, and Viagra - all of whom found their greatest success by accident, as a byproduct of having failed in their pursuit of completely separate goals.
Suffice to say Klitschko, who earned a PHD in Sports Science back in 2001 and speaks four languages fluently, has something for all of us to take away from his article - even if it's merely the origin story of 'tae'.
"Tea trader Thomas Sullivan accidentally invented the tea bag at the start of the twentieth century," Klitschko writes.
"As tea samples in his time were sent in large, expensive tin containers, he wanted to find a way to get around the weight problem. He placed the tea in small, space-saving silk bags. His customers thought they were intended for direct use, dunked them in water and drank the tea. The predecessor to the teabag was invented."
After elaborating on his experience at Wembley, where he was booed into the ring by a raucous British audience and yet rapturously cheered out of it, the former World heavyweight champion concludes:
Perhaps you are also familiar with this situation: You have prepared for a task perfectly, given it your all and thought through all eventualities. Yet you failed to achieve your goal. Ask yourself, then, if you haven't perhaps gained something different, something much more valuable. Allow that thought to develop and try to see something valuable in your failure to achieve your goal. If your dream employer has rejected you, the path to self-employment might now be open. Or a job that escaped you might allow you to concentrate on certain business areas that you previously lacked the courage to tackle. Remain open-minded and recognize successes – even if they turn out differently from what you would have expected.
After all, one thing is true: you are the driving force.
It's a fantastic life lesson from a man who has achieved more than most could ever even remotely aspire to. And yet, for all his success, at the grand old age of 41, the mighty Ukrainian is still learning on the job.
You can read Klitschko's article in full on LinkedIn.