How Tim Tszyu shook off the ‘son of Kostya’ tag and forged his own path

BRONZE STATUES cricket, Australian rules and rugby league royalty line the walkways that snake and weave on their way to the main entrance to the Sydney cricket ground. [SCG]; frequent reminders that this iconic 172-year-old stadium has a rich sporting history.

Step into the renovated lobby and your eyes won’t know exactly where to look. The elegant women’s pavilion adjacent to the participants’ area is immediately eye-catching, as is the scoreboard on the east side of the venue. But it gets better.

Take the escalator up to Level 3 of the Bradman Stand and you’ll find a contender for the best place to watch sports in Australia: the Noble Dining Room. During cricket and football seasons, this grand ballroom, with spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the majestic stands surrounding the sacred green lawn, entertains the who’s who of Australia’s most populous city. It’s where the big shots socialize while sipping top-notch liquor. A place where reflections shine in the finest French silverware.

But on a warm summer evening in 2016, sandwiched somewhere between two cricket matches – the Australian-New Zealand ODI and the opening of the new Big Bash season – the Noble Dining Room opened its doors to something completely unique. Something completely out of character. Champagne and oysters were replaced by beer butts and meat pies, stools were replaced by royal dining chairs, and windows were curtained with black curtains, all in preparation for a modestly publicized professional boxing tournament that was to feature the reincarnation of the legendary Name Tszyu.

Seven hundred people, most of whom were family members, friends and local media, gathered to see 21-year-old Tim Tszyu, son of boxing icon and former world champion Kostya, make his professional fight debut. A baby-faced thug from Rockdale, a suburb of Sydney just a dozen kilometers southwest of the SCG, emerged from the shadows of the gym in crisp white, accompanied by his trainer and father, who had flown from home to Russia earlier in the week.

The ring announcer, who looked straight out of a 1980s boxing movie, introduced Tszyu in the blue corner as “a fighter from Tszyu’s Boxing Academy” while applause reigned with both excitement and anticipation.

Tszyu made short work of his little-known opponent, Zorran Cassidy, with strong hands and an aggressiveness that forced him to take the lead at every opportunity. He was calm, measured but precise, knowing when to attack and when to retreat. The performance was eerily reminiscent of his father, who stood ringside, yelling instructions and recording every punch on his cell phone. After six rounds, the judges’ scorecards confirmed Tszyu’s unanimous victory. His career was in full swing.

Six years and 20 fights later, Tszyu remains undefeated and is gearing up for his career to come full circle. He returned to his hometown of Sydney to take on former world champion Tony Harrison. But this time the world will be watching. And this time, the world title is at stake.

Tim Tszyu’s early years

As the son of one of the greatest boxers of all time, you can imagine that Tszyu would have been set to fight for a world title from the moment he could walk. But it wasn’t.

As a child, Tszyu was much more interested in gymnastics. He began competing in a wide variety of disciplines at the age of 6, learning the basics of strength, conditioning and flexibility, principles that would eventually form the basis of his boxing career. Tszyu also excelled in football as a junior, playing at representative level for St. George’s and Bankstown in New South Wales.

It wasn’t until he was a teenager and spent some time in his father’s homeland of Russia that he began to contemplate his future, conceived the idea of ​​building his own professional boxing career. It frivolously crossed his mind, but quickly turned into a dream. Then it became a full blown obsession. Soon every drop of mental and physical energy was invested in him.

Tszyu sat for hours in the family living room, transferring his father’s fight records to the family’s VHS player. From his father’s early brawls in Australia to the loud lights of Las Vegas, the younger Tszyu “watched his entire career,” absorbing every detail and memorizing every punch sequence. He often closed his eyes and imagined an older version of himself replicating achievements on the greatest sports scenes.

By the age of 18, Tszyu was combining his amateur boxing career with university studies and running his father’s gym in Sydney. He compiled an amateur record of 33-1 before turning to his father and coach to raise the stakes and turn pro. It’s a “tough industry,” Kostya warned, insisting that 100% dedication is required if he’s going to embark on this journey. There shouldn’t have been half measures.

Tszyu did not stop, and he soon adopted the same legendary training regimen that his grandfather developed for his father in the 1980s; careful diet, strict sleep times and gym sessions that will leave even the strongest athletes on the planet breathless. He calls it the “scheme” for success.

“My first session with my trainer tested every ounce of my commitment,” Tszyu. reminds on his website. “In the midst of being sickened by the intensity of our session, I was forced to ask myself if I really wanted to continue on this path. I didn’t stop. After a month of hard training, I was more excited and full of energy. expectation”.

Climbing stairs

Eight weeks after his debut victory over Cassidy at SCG, Tszyu returned to the ring, this time on the Anthony Mundine-Danny Green undercard at the Adelaide Oval. He put in another impressive showing, taking down veteran South Australian Mark Dolby several times – first with a left hook and then with an overhand right – en route to his first knockout victory.

“It’s such an exciting feeling,” Tszyu stated afterwards, before promising to take on as many fights as possible. He was desperate to pass on his experience in the microwave and, in a sign of supreme confidence, was not particularly worried about the possibility of an early loss that would raise serious questions about the legitimacy of his career. Be that as it may, many have already formed the belief that his opportunity came because of his surname, and not because of his talent.

After a month-long no-tech training camp with his father in the Russian wilderness, Tszyu returned to Australia and fought three fights over the course of six weeks. Each time he emerged victorious. By mid-2017, his eyes were completely focused on climbing to welterweight and becoming world champion. As a “goal driven” athlete, Tszyu never looked for additional inspiration, but a significant dose of it was just around the corner as Brisbane took center stage in the boxing world.

On a hot afternoon at Suncorp Stadium, Filipino icon and only eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao put his world welterweight title on the line by taking on local hero and former high school teacher Jeff Horn. The real battle between David and Goliath. The pair traded punches for 12 thrilling rounds before ringside announcer Michael Buffer announced a bloodied and battered Horn as the new world champion.

Very few would recognize him, but among the 50,000 spectators was the humble Tszyu. It’s a day he remembers well, when he soaked up the sights, sounds, smells and atmosphere of one of his home country’s proudest boxing moments. And just like when he was a teenager watching his father’s old fight tapes in the family living room, Tszyu once again dared to dream that his time in the spotlight would one day come.

“It was an inspiration,” Tszyu told Sportzshala. “[Horn] I probably never would have thought that he would fight Pacquiao, but it happened, and he won. This is a true example of what any fighter can achieve. It inspired me to take it to the next level.”

Tszyu fought twice more in the second half of 2017, the last of which was against Wade Ryan in Sydney for his maiden belt; WBC-ABCO Continental welterweight title. For the first time since he turned pro, he didn’t completely dominate the process.

Ryan took advantage of Tszyu’s sluggish start by knocking him out in the first round – the first time in his career he hit the canvas. But as a sign of his maturity and professionalism, Tszyu did not panic. Instead, he brushed it off, recovered, and then began dictating the contest. By the time the bell rang for the end of the 10th and final round, it was obvious that he had maintained his winning streak. The judges agreed, awarding Tszyu a second unanimous decision and the first title.

“I think we saw something special tonight,” said legendary Australian boxing trainer Johnny Lewis. “I love the way he composes himself [and] I thought he handled the situation very comfortably. If you look at this performance today, I would say that Tim has a great future in boxing.”

Stepping out of your father’s shadow

Tszyu’s reputation and winning streak continued to grow throughout a busy 2018. He defended his title twice and added the vacant WBA Oceania interim welterweight title to his resume before facing Joel Camilleri for the Australian welterweight title. . Even with a nasty cut under his left eye, Tszyu led the fight. He outmaneuvered his highly respected opponent, landed most of his clean shots, and seemed to do it all without breaking a sweat. Two judges scored the 10-round bout 99-91, one 98-92.

Moments after another belt was put on his waist, Tszyu called Horn. The man he watched as he became world champion two years earlier was only a few meters away from him, Horn was broadcasting during the fight. Horn has since lost his title to American Terence Crawford…


Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker