When actress Hayden Panettiere met heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko at a book launch party in Los Angeles in 2009 she was playing Claire Bennet a cheerleaderturnedsuperhero on the NBC series Heroes. Now its Wladimir who has become a reallife superhero in his besieged homeland.
The 45yearold who is also nicknamed Dr. Steelhammer and his lookalike 50yearold brother Vitali — the mayor of Ukraines capital Kyiv since 2014 — have become key figures in the Ukrainian resistance. Panettiere meanwhile has all but disappeared from Hollywood. At this point shes as known for her turbulent relationship as her career. She began dating actor and real estate agent Brian Hickerson after her 2018 breakup with Wladimir. In May 2019 the couple got into a physical altercation in Los Angeles that led to Hickerson being arrested on felony domestic violence charges and ordered to stay 100 yards from Panettiere.
The case was dismissed in October of that year and the two were seen together again a month later. On Valentines Day 2020 Hickerson was arrested again and charged with domestic battery against the actress in Wyoming. In July 2020 he was arrested a third time later pleading no contest to two felony counts of injuring a spouse or girlfriend and being sentenced to 45 days in jail. At the time Panettiere posted on Instagram I am prepared to do my part to make sure this man never hurts anyone again. Im grateful for my support system which helped me find the courage to regain my voice and my life.
Despite a fiveyear protective order she was spotted with Hickerson again two months after his release. Last month Panettiere and Hickerson brawled with patrons at the Sunset Marquis hotel in LA with some of the fight captured by cellphones — the first time the actress had been seen on camera in a long time.Panettiere now 32 began working in TV commercials when she was just 11 months old. She was born in Palisades NY in 1989 the daughter of an FDNY captain and a former soap opera actress. Following in her mothers footsteps the aspiring star had fulltime roles on One Life to Live and Guiding Light while still in elementary school.
By ninth grade she was being homeschooled allowing more flexibility for her career including recurring parts on Ally McBeal and Malcolm in the Middle as well as Disney movies The Ice Princess and Remember the Titans. While on Heroes the show that made her a star Panettiere dated her costar Milo Ventimiglia This Is Us when she was 18 and he was 30. At 20 she met Klitschko through their mutual friend Bosnian refugeeturnedmultimillionaire philanthropist Diana Jenkins now known as one of the stars of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Both had been involved in Jenkins Room 23 a photography book to benefit human rights projects.
Their relationship was onandoff before he proposed in 2013 and their daughter Kaya was born a year later.Panettiere has been open about struggling with a bad bout of postpartum depression that lasted for several years causing her to take a leave of absence from Nashville the TV show on which she played a country singer from 2012 to 2018. The series was her last role. Theres a lot of misunderstanding and I feel like theres a lot of people out there who think that its not real that its not true that its something thats made up in a sufferers mind she said of her postpartum depression in 2015.
Its something thats completely uncontrollable and its really painful and its really scary and women need a lot of support. The actress added When they tell you about postpartum depression you think about OK I feel negative feelings towards my child. I want to injure my child. I want to hurt my child. Ive never ever had those feelings and some women do.She and Wladimir broke up for good in 2018 but reportedly remain on good terms and were pictured together at Art Basel in Miami in 2020.
While they have talked about coparenting the former boxer has primary custody of Kaya and lives with her in Ukraine. The actress has never revealed why thats the arrangement. They are very very private Haydens father Alan Skip Panettiere who now works as a real estate agent just outside New York City told The Post. They wouldnt want me to say anything about it. In 2019 a source told People Haydens life is in flux with her daughter living away and she has other issues weighing on her mind.
In February when Russia invaded her exs homeland Panettiere commented on social media that Kaya was safe and not in Ukraine.Wladimir and his brother are said to be two of the best boxers in history. Together they earned more than $100 million in the ring and Wladimir captured a gold medal as a super heavyweight in the 1996 Olympics. mAlong with President Volodymyr Zelensky the Klitschko brothers are now facing down a much bigger foe Russian President Vladimir Putin.
They have taken to social media and news broadcasts around the world showing themselves walking through the rubble of Kyiv after the missile strikes in midMarch as well as other devastation. Wladimir went to Bucha after the massacre posting graphic video of bound dead bodies on the ground that he said were civilians and accusing Putin of mass genocide. Im in the city of Bucha on the outskirts of the capital. What happened here — and everywhere in Ukraine what is happening — this is not a special operation this is not military objects this is civilians Wladimir said in the April 3 video.
The camera then panned to the bodies on the ground. Theyve been shot in the head with tied hands behind their back Wladimir said. This is genocide of the Ukrainian population and thats exactly what the Russian regime Putins regime Russian army is doing killing civilians with tied hands behind their back and with a shot in their heads. mThe brothers also appeared on ABC News last Sunday to plead for help. First and mostly we need weapons Wladimir said alongside Vitali. We cannot defend our country with fists.
At their peak between 2004 and 2015 the brothers dominated heavyweight boxing and kept a promise to their mother that they would never fight each other. But Vitali always stuck closer to home while Wladimir opted for a more jetset life in London Miami and LA sources in Ukraine said. Vitali has been in the political life for a while but a lot of us are surprised that Wladimir became so dedicated to the cause Ukrainian analyst Vladyslav Faraponov at Internews Ukraine told The Post.
He has a very glamorous life abroad with a lot of properties all over the world. I did not expect Wlad to be so brave and courageous to go to Bucha. Both of the brothers were a symbol of pride and great victories for the country before the war but now theyve become a symbol of great defense and security as well. When we see them side by side we feel Kyiv is not under a big threat. Panettiere meanwhile remains among her exs most ardent supporters posting on Instagram in February Im praying for my family and friends there and everyone whos fighting.