"Kostya" Tszyu (born September 19, 1969) is a Russian-Australian former
professional boxer. He is a four-time light welterweight world champion,
having also spent a period of time as the undisputed champion of that
division. Tszyu was a good all-around boxer, who relied heavily on
accuracy and timing with his shots and carried exceptional punching
power, often being regarded as one of the hardest-punching light welterweights
in the division's history.
Tszyu holds notable victories over
former world champions Julio Cesar Chavez, Zab Judah and Roger Mayweather.
In November 2001 he became the first champion to unify the light welterweight
division in over 30 years and is considered by many in Australia to
be a national sports hero. In The Ring magazine's March 2010 issue,
Tszyu was ranked as the number one junior welterweight of the 2000s
decade. On 7 December 2010, he was inducted into the International
Boxing Hall of Fame for the class of 2011.
born in Serov, a town near the Ural Mountains, in the former Soviet
Union to a Korean (paternal)-Mongol (maternal) father and a Russian
mother. Tszyu's father was a fitter in a metal factory, whereas his
mother was a nurse.
As a child, Kostya was hyperactive, so his
father decided to take him to a boxing gym, where he would channel
that energy by fighting older boys. He impressed the Soviet amateur
team coaches and he was sent to the Soviet Union's amateur boxing
travelling training camps, where he visited more than 30 countries
while training and fighting in tournaments. He trained with that group
250 days a year, and won various tournaments, such as amateur boxing's
world championships. He also participated in the 1988 Olympic Games.
At the Cuban world championship tournament in 1987, he came in
second place, and at the Seoul Olympic games, he lost in the third
Tszyu was a member of the Soviet military too, but since
he was selected as an elite athlete, he was not required to participate
in combat. He fought at the world championships once again, in Moscow
in 1989, where he came in third place.
In 1991, he went again
to the amateur world championships, this time held in Sydney. This
was a trip that would change his life forever. Not only was the third
time his charm, but he felt enchanted with the sights of Sydney and
its people, and decided he wanted to live in Australia. Following
the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, early the next year, Tszyu
emigrated to Australia with his girlfriend, where they married in
1993 and became Australian citizens, settling in Rockdale, Sydney.
Before marrying her, though, Tszyu had already turned professional,
beating Darrell Hiles by a knockout in one round on March 1, 1992,
raising his quality of opposition almost immediately. In his fourth
professional bout, he met the former WBC Featherweight Champion Juan
Laporte, decisioning him over ten rounds. In his sixth bout, he beat
contender Sammy Fuentes by a knockout in the first. Fuentes would
go on to win a world title years after being handily beaten by Tszyu
in 1993, Steve Larrimore, Larry La Crousiere and Robert Rivera, went
to Australia to fight Tszyu, and none lasted more than two rounds.
The only man to last more than two rounds with Tszyu in 1993 was Livingstone
Bramble, a former World lightweight Champion, who lost by decision
to Tszyu at Newcastle, New South Wales.
In 1994, Hector Lopez,
Angel Hernandez (who had just come off of a loss after challenging
Julio Cesar Chavez for the WBC belt), and Pedro Chinito Sanchez from
the Dominican Republic tried to beat Tszyu, but Tszyu beat Lopez by
a decision in ten, Hernandez by a knockout in seven, and Sanchez by
a knockout in four. After the win against Sanchez, Tszyu was ranked
number one in the light welterweight division.