The Russian-born Australian boxing star KOSTYA TSZYU, a 2-time world champion, ruled the junior welterweight division (140 pounds) with a sledgehammer straight right for years. Today, over a year since his 11th round TKO loss to England’s pride Ricky Hatton, the shoe-in for the Hall of Fame is still undecided about his future in the ring but, predictably, remains in the crosshairs of the boxing community, so impressive was his domination of top competition between 1998 and 2005. Below we offer an insight into the mind and makings of a legend, as told in Tszyu’s own words.
On the primary ingredient of success: Ability to give it all you have. Complete dedication. That is something you have to nurture and build up.
On birth gifts and what he added to the equation later one: A certain sense of balance. A sense of rhythm perhaps. But, unless you can work like a horse do not expect to succeed. That is what I did – I learned how to work like a horse.
On taking responsibility, in the simplest terms possible: A step to the left and a step to the right produce different results… Every choice has its own consequences.
On spirit and drive: The way I am now, with you and the way I am in public are two completely different individuals. Night and day. However, I would rather not see myself the way I am in the ring too often. In the ring, I have too much aggression.
On complexity of boxing: Boxing is a chess tournament. Not just one match but an entire tournament where every single punch is a calculated move. A good Grandmaster can plan a game three or four moves ahead. And that is how I worked on many aspects of my technique: for instance, you can throw a left in three to five different ways and, of course, one can respond to those three to five different punches in up to ten ways. It just snowballs from there. If you try to calculate the next two or three moves [in a fight] you are dealing with 50-60 combinations. If you visualize them, act them out in advance, things will go smoother in the ring because you will know what to expect.
On improvisation vs. experience and professionalism: The room for improvisation is immense. However, while boxing may be unpredictable one can do very little without experience and professionalism.
On what constitutes professionalism: When everything you do you do with a single, overarching goal in mind. And that literally means everything - when you eat, breathe, grant an interview, have a meeting, anything and everything.
On importance of money: Money equals freedom.
On his next goal: I am trying to change people's lives and do something not for myself but for others. I derive tremendous gratification from that.
© DE I / DESILLUSIONIST #06. “KOSTYA TZYU SANS GLOVES”