Konstantin Borisovich "Kostya" Tszyu (Константин (Костя) Борисович Цзю, in Australian English) (born September 19 1969) is a Russian-born boxer of mixed Russian, Korean and Mongol descent. He holds both Russian and Australian citizenship and is a four time world junior welterweight champion, including a period of time as the undisputed junior welterweight champion.
The son of a fitter in a metal factory and a nurse, Tszyu was born in Serov, a town near the Ural Mountains, in the former Soviet Union. Tszyu was the first champion to unify the junior welterweight division in over 30 years.
Tszyu was hyperactive as a child, and his father decided to take him to a boxing gym, where he would channel that energy by fighting older boys. He impressed Russia's amateur team coaches and he was sent to the Soviet Union's amateur boxing travelling training camps, where he was able to visit 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 round.
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. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1992, Tszyu fled to Australia with his girlfriend, where they married in 1993 and became Australian citizens. Before marrying her, though, Tszyu had already turned professional, beating Darrell Hiles by a knockout in one round on March 1 1992, at Melbourne.
Tszyu compiled an Amateur Record of 259-11.
- Junior European Featherweight Champion 1986 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
- 2nd place at the Junior World Championships 1987 in Havanna, Cuba as a Lightweight. Results were:
- Represented the Soviet Union as a Lightweight at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Results were:
- Won the 1989 European Championships in Athens, Greece. Results were:
- competed at the World Championships 1989 in Moscow, Soviet Union. Results were:
- Won gold medal for the Soviet Union at 63.5 KG at the 1990 Goodwill Games
- Won the 1991 European Championships in Göteborg, Sweden. Results were:
- Won gold medal for the Soviet Union at Light Welterweight in the 1991 World Championships in Sydney, Australia.
Tszyu started raising his quality of opposition almost immediately. In his fourth professional bout, he met the former WBC Featherweight
champion of the world 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 onto 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 César Chávez 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 Jr. Welterweights.
In 1995, he received his first world title shot when he fought IBF
world junior welterweight champion Jake Rodriguez
at Las Vegas, Nevada
. Tszyu became world champion by knocking Rodriguez out in the sixth round, and then defended the world title, beating former world junior lightweight
and junior welterweight champion Roger Mayweather
by a decision in 12, Hugo Pineda
by a knockout in 11, Cory Johnson
by a knockout in four and Jan Bergman
by a knockout in six. After this string of defences, Tszyu became a highly touted world champion by many boxing magazines, and many articles about him appeared on Ring Magazine
, KO Magazine
, and other American boxing publications.
1997 began for Tszyu when his defense against Leonardo Moro Mas
was declared a no contest because Mas' camp protested that the blow that finished their fighter in the first round was actually a low blow
. Undecided whether it was a low blow or a legal blow, the IBF and the Nevada Athletic Commission
decided to declare it a no contest instead. For his next bout, however, Tszyu wasn't as lucky, and he lost for the first time, losing by a knockout in ten rounds to Vince Phillips
, who also took with that, Tzsyu's world championship.
After beating former world champions Calvin Grove (KO2) and Rafael Ruelas (KO9), Tszyu was given another world title try, when the WBC's belt became vacant in 1998 following Oscar de la Hoya's move to the Welterweight division, and Tszyu found himself twice on the canvas in round one of his fight for the vacant belt against Diosbelys Hurtado, but recuperated to beat Hurtado by a knockout in five and become world champion once again. He retained the title once in 1999, knocking out former world champion Miguel Angel Gonzalez in ten, and twice in 2000, beating Arizona's fringe contender Ahmed Santos in eight, and a 38 year old Mexican legend Julio César Chávez, the former world champion, in six at Phoenix, Arizona.
Unifying the belts
Tszyu then began pursuing his wish to unify all the belts. In 2001, he began by facing WBA
world champion Sharmba Mitchell
, taking the belt by a knockout in seven. His next fight was against the German Turk, Oktay Urkal
. Tszyu finished 2001 by recovering his IBF belt in a unification bout with the current champion Zab Judah
, by a knockout in the second round. A small melee inside the ring followed that fight when Judah attacked referee Jay Nady for what he felt was a premature stoppage, reacting by throwing his corner's seat at the referee, and even trying to choke Nady with his glove at one point. However, replays clearly show Judah walking on wobbly legs, tipping like a falling tree in a clip that has now become popular on the internet. As a result, Tszyu became the first man in 30 years to unify the belts in the Junior Welter Weight division.
Tszyu in 2002 had only one bout, beating the top-ranked contender of all three of his belts, Ben Tackie of Ghana by a decision in twelve rounds. Tszyu won every round on each one of the judges scorecards in a masterful display of boxing.
On January 19 2003, Tszyu began the year by retaining his title against former world champion Jesse James Leija by a knockout in six. After the fight, held in Melbourne, Tszyu announced that fight could be his last in Australia, due to pressure from promoters to fight in the United States. (The win against Leija came on the birthday of Tszyu's son.)
His first fight in 2004 was supposed to have been held on February 7 in a rematch against Sharmba Mitchell. It would have been Tszyu's first fight as a professional in Moscow, but Tszyu injured his shoulder during training. He had successful surgery to correct the problem, but the injury further extended his absence from the ring. On November 6, he and Mitchell finally had their rematch, with Tszyu knocking Mitchell out once again, this time in three rounds. Tszyu was voted comeback fighter of the year by Ring magazine. The bout which was aired on American cable giant, Showtime, actually made the end of year highlight reel on rival cable provider, HBO. This was unprecedented.
Dethroned by Hatton
He next fought on June 5 2005
, against British boxer Ricky Hatton
, Tszyu lost this fight, and his world title, by TKO after retiring on his stool at the end of the 11th round. He was also behind on all three cards (by 1,3 and 5 points).
Tszyu's record currently stands at 31 professional wins (25 by knockout), two losses and one no contest. He is considered by many in Australia to be a national sports hero. Tszyu and his family reside in Sydney
where his son attends St George Christian School
. On the January 30, 2007 rumours spread of a Tszyu comeback. However, there was no confirmation.
Kostya has been in several court battles with his managers. Most recently, his ex-manager, Susie Bennell, took him to court, alleging Kostya owed her money. Tszyu was also ordered to repay 3.5 million dollars to his former manager Bill Mordey in an unrelated civil suit.