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Bobby Czyz

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  • Bobby Czyz

    The story of Bobby Czyz is full of drama and success as well as defeat, loss and tragedy. This light heavy and cruiser world champion is likely the most intelligent man to ever lace on boxing gloves. He belongs to the elite high-iq organisation Mensa and that guaranteed that he would have a life after boxing. But early on in his career, Bobby was faced with a serious obstacle-difficult relationship with his own father, who later took his life. He was a fighter that had many strengths and few weaknesses, perhaps his greatest weakness was his relatively short stature for a light heavy and especially a cruiser-5'10. He was a fast and hard-hitting action fighter, yet was also rather clever and could box when needed. He was also physically strong and that was the reason why he could compete at those weight classes, that people of his size normally don't. He was also only knocked out for real in his last fight-all his other stoppage losses are by corner retirement, meaning he could take a good punch too.

    Robert Edward Czyz was born 10 February 1962 in Orange, New Jersey and grew up in Wanaque in the same state. His father was of partly Polish origin, where the last name originates from. His mother was Italian-American. Few are aware that his last name is pronounced just like "cheese" actually, but perhaps because it sounded better, it was always pronounced as "chez". Growing up, he developed a strained relationship with his father and was always a lot closer to his mother. As amateur, Bobby made the 1980 Olympic team, but never went to the Moscow Olympics, of course, since they were boycotted. He was one of the few team members (Tony Tucker was another) who didn't go to a competition in Poland and thus were not in the plane that crashed and killed the entire team. The reason was, he had a car accident just a week before the scheduled flight. He ended his amateur career with 24 wins and 2 losses, winning two junior olympic state gold medals, two regional championship gold medals and a bronze medal in the nationals. As he turned pro in April 1980, he was trained by Tommy Parks, and his father was one of his cornermen. Working together actually improved the relationship and Bobby racked up 20 wins without a deafeat, beating Robbie Sims by UD along the way. On the night of 20 November 1982, just a week after the tragic Ray Mancini-Deuk Koo Kim fight, he faced Mustafa Hamsho, a strong and cagey, but also dirty fighter. The fight was at the Convention Hall in Atlantic City and Bobby was the Jersey Boy fighting this Syrian based in Brooklyn. After 10 rounds, Hamsho got the verdict and for the first time, young Bobby felt the bitter taste of defeat. It turned out to be too much too soon, as Hamsho had 38 fights under his belt and had fought Hagler. What would happen after the fight would be worse, however. That night, Bobby and his father got into a verbal fight due to this disappointment and Bobby said some harsh words to his old man and told him he would not be in his corner anymore. Seven months later, on 12 June, he came to his parents' house to find his father in the basement, dead from a gunshot wound after committing suicide. Much later, Bobby said:"My father always used to say; "I would never kill myself, except for two reasons, 1: if I was terminally ill and 2: if you don't love me son. Not your mother, not your brothers-you." Robert Czyz sr was an abusive man who beat his wife and his kids and Bobby as the eldest most often felt his wrath. Now Bobby had to pick up the pieces and continue without his father.

    He came back to the ring in September, 3 months after his father died. He beat Bert Lee by a corner retirement in 2 in his first fight. He then became a light heavy and scored unanimous decisions against Marvin Mack and Murray Sutherland, before fighting Slobodan Kacar for his IBF title, 6 September 1986, at the Las Vegas Hilton. Overcoming a two and a half inch height disadvantage, the faster Czyz broke down Kacar and stopped him by TKO5 after putting him down once and stopping him on his feet with a barrage. Kacar had won the gold at the very Olympics Czyz was not allowed to participate at. Bobby now became a star and a big draw in his home state of New Jersey, gaining the nickname "Matinee Idol", which he put on his trunks. He made his first defense at home in West Orange, 26 December that year, and beat David Sears by TKO1-after only 61 seconds. Sears was ranked at number 6 and had a record of 17-2-1. He had also previously fought Michael Spinks, lasting 3 rounds against him. Czyz then faced the dangerous and hard-hitting Willie Edwards, nicknamed "Sandman". Edwards said some disparaging things about Czyz before the fight, calling him a "lazy middleweight" and saying he would send him back to the middleweight division, where he belonged. And sure enough, Edwards almost made good on his promise, as he put Czyz down briefly at the end of the first round, after a good start by Czyz where he hurt Edwards several times. Czyz was knocked into the ropes and got up quicky but looked shaken. He came back in the second round and the two started trading furiously. After hurting Edwards with a left and a right, he knocked him out with a hard right. It was one of his best wins actually, as he came out on top in a war against a dangerous slugger, who had earlier stopped Donny Lalonde and a faded Matthew Saad Muhammad. Czyz made his third successful defense by stopping the rather solid Jim McDonald by TKO6, 3 May 1987. On 29 October, he then faced his bane: the 6'2 Charles Williams. Williams was 21-4-2 and was not expected to present a serious threat to Czyz. And sure enough, it looked like another quick ko victory for Bobby was in the making, after he put Williams down at the end of the second round and again early in the third. But, Williams was a tough cookie and he weathered the storm, coming back in the very next round and then taking charge after that, hitting Czyz with stiff combinations. Czyz hung in there, but the control of the fight was no longer in his hands and his right eye got swollen shut in the end. After round 9, the referee stopped the fight and Bobby Czyz was no longer the champion.

    It was a big upset at the time, but with time, it didn't prove to be humiliating for Bobby, as Williams went on to make 8 defenses and beat some notable fighters. After losing in a close fight by majority decision to Dennis Andries next, in October '88 he bounced back by beating Leslie Stewart by SD10 and then scored a TKO7 over Mike DeVito before fighting Virgil Hill for the WBA title, 4 March '89. Czyz had to go to Hill's hometown of Bismarck, North Dakota, as Hill refused to defend his title anywhere else. The taller southpaw Hill proved to be just too cagey and slick and he won by a clear unanimous decision. Only 3 months later, Czyz signed to fight Williams again, on 25 June at the Convention Center, AC. It was a barnburner of a fight, much like the first one, but again, Czyz got stopped due to a left eye swollen shut. He was also convincingly behind on all scorecards, which wasn't the case in the first fight. It seemed like his best days were behind him now. He then decided to become a cruiserweight, despite many thinking he was too small to be a light heavy. He however proved successful at the new weight-initially. He beat the future IBF-champion Uriah Grant in his first fight at 200, by unanimous decision. He then knocked out the 12-0 Andrew Maynard in 7, before fighting the WBA-champion Robert Daniels. Daniels was actually an inch shorter, but very strong physically and a good technician. They fought on 8 March '91, at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and Bobby was victorious by a split decision, thus becoming a two-time and two-weight world champion. He made two defenses, first beating Bash Ali by UD and then he fought Donny Lalonde, 8 May '92 in Vegas. He put Lalonde down once in the first round and was penalized in the tenth, but in the end won by UD. He earned 250 K for the fight. He had to relinquish his title after being hit by a car in March '93 and not able to defend it that year. He came back to the ring in February '94 and won an easy fight on points. He then fought against the Nigerian David Izeqwire for the IBO title, 4 August that year in Mashantucket. He was down in round 4 and then retired in his corner after that round, losing for the third time that way. He then jumped up yet another weight class and became a heavyweight. He beat Tim Tomashek on today's date in '95, by TKO5. In December he however won the IBU "Super Cruiserweight" title by TKO6 against Richard Jackson. He then signed to fight Evander Holyfield, in Holyfield's last fight before winning the world title against Tyson, 10 May '96. It was at Madison Square Garden when Czyz put up a brave fight, but was outgunned by the naturally bigger man and had to retire after 5 rounds. He had received a standing count in round 3. He claimed however his eyes were burning because of an unknown substance that Holyfield's cornermen had put on his gloves. Holyfield denied it and referee Ron Lipton went over to his corner and rubbed his face with his gloves-nothing came off. Don Turner, Holyfield's trainer, said he only used vaseline.

    In any case, that fight effectively spelled the end of Bobby's career. He came back once more on 12 June 1998, to fight Corrie Sanders, an even bigger man. For the first and only time in his career, he was stopped inside the round, after being down twice, by TKO2. "Chappie" or "Matinee Idol" hung em up after that, for good. Fatefully, his last fight happened on the 15th anniversary of his father's death. His record is 44 wins with 28 ko's and 8 losses, 5 by ko. He was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame upon his retirement and also the National Italian American and Polish American Sports Hall of Fame, in 2004 and 2009 respectively. Czyz became a color commentator for Showtime already in 1992 and continued doing that after retirement, until 2003, when he had his fourth drunk-driving incident in six years. On 13 April 2007, he was sitting in the backseat of a Mercedes with a hired driver when he crashed into a tree in Millstone, NJ. Czyz sustained serious injuries and was in a medically-induced coma for 28 days. This left him with a hospital bill of 1,6 million, which was more than his insurance could cover. He has since fallen on hard times and according to a 2018 article/interview, was working as a bagger in a grocery shop. A sad ending to his already sad story. He has had drinking problems for a long time, stemming from his father's suicide. Before the Willie Edwards fight, he called his father "the greatest human being I've ever known". Bobby Czyz was one of the best boxers, especially white boxers, of the 80's and the early 90's, but his misfortunes put a serious dent in his career and after his accident in 1993, he was never the same again. I hope you enjoyed this presentation.

  • #2
    Long one, S !

    A cracking article for a cracking boxer. Thanks.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by selij View Post
      Long one, S !

      A cracking article for a cracking boxer. Thanks.
      My humble thanks.

      Comment

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