Boxing: An Interview with Bobby Czyz Part 3: Heavyweights, Heavy Issues, and a Distinctive Legacy
Greg Smith - 5/27/2006
Editor's Note: Originally Published - 9/19/2005
“Holyfield is a dirty fighter. He elbowed me. He forearmed me. He thumbed me. He hit me low. He headbutted me. He did a number of things. I didn’t complain once. I said, ‘F..k ‘em…whatever...’ I’m a big boy. I didn’t come down with yesterday’s rain. I’m no boy scout.”
---Bobby Czyz on his fight with Evander Holyfield
“Our sparring sessions were like wars. He only knows one way to fight, and I only know one way to fight. Our sparring sessions were better than most fights. They were just amazing.”
---Bobby Czyz on his sparring sessions with Tony Ayala Jr.
After Bobby recuperated from being hit by a car, he fought at 192 pounds on a huge card in Charlotte, North Carolina in February 1994. Bobby scored a ten round unanimous decision over George O’Mara to shake off some rust and get back on track. On the same card, Thomas Hearns fought at 184 pounds while winning a twelve round unanimous decision over Freddie Delgado for the NABF cruiserweight title.
As mentioned during the course of this interview series, Hearns and Czyz had a history.
Indeed, it would’ve been an interesting bout. Czyz was on a roll, and his marketability was revitalizing with each fight. Hearns was well above his natural weight, but was still a good puncher at 175 pounds. He was a better pure boxer than Bobby, but Hearns’ chin was always questionable. It was conceivable that Hearns might run into problems if Czyz was able to take his punch, and work inside to Hearns’ body, and then zero in on his chin.
Talk of a possible Czyz – Hearns match resurfaced in the early-to-mid 1990s. Czyz always wanted the match, but once again, it never materialized. During our interview, Bobby told me he felt Hearns always talked a big game with regard to a proposed match between the two, but always seemed to back out as soon as talks became serious. He believed Hearns feared that indeed Bobby would be able to take his punch, and Bobby would eventually catch him.
It never happened. Hearns and Czyz went in opposite directions thereafter.
In August 1994, Bobby lost on a fifth round technical knockout in a bid for the IBO cruiserweight title to David Izeqwire. As mentioned in the introduction to this interview series, Bobby’s often injured back went out in the fight, he was knocked down in the fourth round, and couldn’t answer the bell for the fifth round. Bobby used the word “paralyzed” to describe how he felt when his back went out.
After losing to Izeqwire, Czyz was determined to continue his career, but not without complications. Czyz’s back condition deteriorated badly, and he resorted to a radical treatment to remedy his situation. Bobby told me that he was actually injected with dangerous botulism injections during the final years of his career. The injections would paralyze the quadradus muscle for four months, but if the doctor missed, the botulism would go to his heart, and he would die. This is yet another example of the extreme nature of Bobby’s mentality, and also an example of behind-the-scenes issues we don’t discover until after a fighter’s career is over.
After losing to Izeqwire, Bobby decided to take his shot and compete as a heavyweight. Despite his natural size disadvantage, he was remarkably effective against journeyman competition. In 1995, he fought three times. In March and September, Czyz weighed 206 ½ and 207 ½ in scoring wins over Tim Tomashek and Jeff Williams, respectively. He weighed 206 pounds when he won the WBU super cruiserweight title by annihilating Ricky Jackson in six rounds in December 1995.
Czyz then decided it was time to take a risk and go after bigger and more distinguished game.
On May 10, 1996, Bobby faced Evander Holyfield at Madison Square Garden. Bobby and Evander both officially weighed-in at 211 for the bout (Bobby said he was actually slightly lighter than the listed weight), and nobody expected Bobby to win. Nonetheless, I thought Bobby might be able to give Evander some problems. Bobby looked excellent in the Jackson fight, and broke Jackson’s jaw. On the flip side, Evander was knocked out by Riddick Bowe for the first time in their rubber match, and looked long in the tooth.
In the days leading up to Holyfield - Czyz, I didn’t think Bobby would win. However, taking into account that Bobby had a great chin, and Evander always seemed to have trouble with body punchers and excellent jabbers, I thought it might be possible for Bobby to give an excellent account of himself in defeat. I thought Holyfield would win a 97-93 type of decision, but wouldn’t look great in the process.
Bobby knew Holyfield didn’t take him seriously. Bobby’s plan was to let Holyfield punch himself out in the early rounds, and then come on late when Evander would have trouble sustaining his attack. He didn’t think Holyfield trained as he usually did for big fights.
Holyfield – Czyz actually turned out to be one of the more bizarre and controversial bouts of the last decade. In the first round, Holyfield came out fast and tried to knock Czyz out. Czyz absorbed the bombardment, and survived the round. Holyfield continued to try to take Czyz out in the second round, but Bobby hung in tough.
In the third round, Holyfield pinned Czyz on the ropes, and unloaded a salvo of flush, brutal shots to Bobby’s head. Bobby’s legs never buckled, and he didn’t appear to be headed to the canvas.
As Holyfield unloaded, referee Ron Lipton eventually stepped in and gave Czyz a standing eight count. Some observers felt Lipton shouldn’t have given the eight-count because it denied Holyfield the opportunity to stop Czyz with follow-up shots. Others believed that the eight-count was appropriate. On the diametric opposite side of the spectrum, Czyz was angry and defiant, and protested the eight-count. Bobby gives his account of why he protested Lipton’s eight-count.
“You know what I said to him (Lipton)? I said, ‘What are you doing? This is what we talked about in the dressing room.’ That’s what I said to him.”
Bobby gives us some additional background regarding his meeting with Lipton in the dressing room before the fight.
“This is what I said to him in the dressing room. ‘Listen, I’ve got a good chin. If I don’t wobble---I don’t stagger severely--- or go down, don’t give me a standing eight count. I know he’s going to come at me like a bull. I know he’s going to bum rush me, and try to blow me out in the first round. Do me a favor. Don’t put me at a bigger disadvantage. I’m going to have to lose two or three of the first four rounds anyway, because he’s just too big and too strong. But, as he tires, I’m going to come on. But don’t put me at a bigger disadvantage in the points category by giving me a standing eight count, which is viewed as a knockdown. Don’t do it.’ He (Lipton) said, ‘Ok.’”
The controversy didn’t end there. Bobby did come on a bit in the fourth round, but Holyfield had a good fifth round. Holyfield was tiring in accordance with Bobby’s strategy, but Bobby’s output wasn’t prodigious, either.
After the fifth round, there was commotion in Bobby’s corner. Bobby’s eyes appeared red and inflamed. Lipton examined Bobby’s eyes, and then went to Holyfield’s corner to examine his gloves. Bobby’s trainer, Tommy Parks, also mentioned that something was wrong with Bobby’s back. It was a strange, chaotic scene. Bobby provides his thoughts in retrospect.
“I thought he (Tommy Parks) was stopping it because of my back because he asked me about my back two or three times. My back had gone out on and off over the years. I was evidently not doing something he wanted me to do, and he said, ‘It’s your back.’”
In other words, Bobby’s lack of effective output led Parks to believe that Czyz’s back had gone out again as it had at times during his career.
Bobby continues his explanation of the stoppage.
“I said, ‘It’s not my back. I can’t see.’ Then we were talking back and forth and back and forth, and he said, ‘I’m stopping the fight.’ I said, ‘For my back?’ He said, ‘No. It’s your eyes.’ Again, there’s a lot of hectic sh*t in the corner, and sometimes you get some miscommunication. You’d be surprised. You’re thinking about one thing, and someone is saying something about another.”
Bobby said he wasn’t experiencing debilitating back pain during the fight. As he said to me, “It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad.” It was simply that his eyes were burning so badly that he couldn’t see.
Bobby also informed me that skin peeled off of his face, from the forehead to the chin, the day after the fight. He strongly believes to this day that some sort of illegal substance was used during the fight. He also had some comments about Holyfield’s dirty tactics and the frequently analyzed topic of Holyfield’s moral hypocrisy.
“Holyfield is a dirty fighter. He elbowed me. He forearmed me. He thumbed me. He hit me low. He headbutted me. He did a number of things. I didn’t complain once. I said, ‘F..k ‘em….whatever...’ I’m a big boy. I didn’t come down with yesterday’s rain. I’m no boy scout.”
Czyz then made some comments an increasing number of people have been making in the last few years.
“After the fight, he (Holyfield) always says, ‘Praise God.’ Everybody gives him a ride. Here’s the funny thing. He’s got 12 kids with 9 different women. Let me ask you a question: What religion condones that? What irresponsible religion condones that? He’s trying to start his own f..kin’ country! He’s trying to start his own world.”
The controversy of Holyfield – Czyz didn’t stop there. Bobby was a commentator for Holyfield’s huge upset of Tyson later in 1996. I asked Bobby about his thoughts after the upset.
“You know, it’s funny. I talked to some people that were close to Mike around that time. I said, ‘What happened?’ They said, ‘It’s your fault.’ I said, ‘My fault?’ They said, ‘He watched you and Holyfield, and trained for a four round fight.’
Bobby then responded with the following: “Don’t you understand? That’s what Holyfield thought about me. That’s why he looked so bad….because he didn’t train.”
All told, the ramifications of Holyfield – Czyz were significant in various ways.
After the Holyfield fight, Bobby continued his duties with Showtime, and was out of the ring for two years. In 1998, he decided to make one last go in the heavyweight division, and got a shot at Corrie Sanders’ WBU heavyweight title.
Bobby lifted weights heavily for the fight. He bulked up to 247 pounds, and then slimmed down to 220 pounds by fight time. Despite the strength program, in sparring, he had some good days, and some very bad days. He used Maurice Harris, Ray Mercer, and a tall 6’7” fighter as sparring partners.
Bobby had sparred extensively with heavyweights in the past, including Mercer, but something was different about this training camp. His body wasn’t cooperating, and he felt the years of wear and tear were finally catching up to him. Indeed, Bobby had subjected his body to a lot since he was child. Early in our interview, he gave some detail regarding the litany of ring-related injuries he had suffered since he was a kid.
“…the collapsed arches in my feet. The broken hands, the surgeries on this and that, the dislocated jaw, broken eardrums, nose broken four times…”
Something had to give, and it did. Bobby describes his training camp for the Sanders fight.
"There were days where I would do real well, but there were days where I would get in the ring, and all three of them would kill me. I would say to myself, ‘I’m better than this.’ It’s Father Time or Mother Nature…choose your phraseology…it’s telling me it’s time to stop. I’m at the end of the line. My body can’t do this anymore…..My body can’t do this anymore. That punch wasn’t supposed to hurt. That punch never hurt me. That hurt. That hurt a lot. I remember going home and having headaches.”
Bobby wasn’t about to quit, however. He steeled himself for one last push.
“I remember many of the days during training camp thinking this is my last hurrah. I had done it for 18 years as a pro. 8 years as an amateur. 26 years I’d been putting my body through this. It’s time to take my shot and bow out. If I would’ve beaten Corrie Sanders, I could’ve done almost anything for a pay day and left.”
Bobby provides some extra perspective to his thought process at the time.
“A white (WBU) heavyweight champion from America….speaks the way I could speak….represent the sport the way I have…I could write my own ticket for one shot. I’ll tell you what. Mike Tyson would’ve fought me in a heartbeat just because we’re friends. He would’ve probably f**ked me up. But you know what? I would’ve fought Mike for free just for the rush of being in there with someone that dangerous…just the sheer rush of being in there with someone who could hit like that…just to see what I’m worth. People don’t understand that, but if you haven’t competed in anything, you won’t really understand it. You need be a little a little f**ked up in the head—touched in the head---but nonetheless, I would’ve fought him for free.”
Nobody ever accused Bobby Czyz of being normal. Truthfully, I think Bobby’s thought process is that of a man who wanted to leave an extraordinary legacy regardless of the risks, and in accordance with his upbringing.
In the end, Sanders blew out Czyz in two one-sided rounds on June 12, 1998 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. To be sure, I think it’s important for any fan to watch this fight. Bobby was completely outgunned and far past his prime, but he rose from a first round knockdown, and actually went after Sanders. Czyz’s blows were ineffective, but he tried to do everything to turn the tide in the worst of circumstances.
In the second round, Bobby tried to mount an attack, but was caught with a nasty inside left from Sanders, and went down. Bobby got up, staggered into the ropes, and the referee stopped the fight. Bobby briefly protested, but the stoppage was appropriate. Bobby wasn’t going to do any better in the fight. It wasn’t the ideal way to end a career, but at the same time, it was a clear signal that his days as a fighter were over.
Bobby Czyz went out on his shield in his last fight. He smartly never returned to the ring.
Bobby’s final ledger of 44-8 (28 KOs) doesn’t really capture the essence or the totality of his career. Bobby only lost to world champions, or in the case of Mustafa Hamsho, a highly ranked contender. He never lost to a journeyman opponent. Moreover, the record unfortunately doesn’t even remotely give a hint to what was happening behind the scenes during his career as well. Bobby’s vast experience in the fight game, coupled with a plethora of knowledge of peripheral issues in boxing, made for some thought provoking and enlightening exchanges during our interview.
During our interview, Bobby and I discussed a variety of controversial and salient subjects associated with the complex and often counterintuitive world of boxing. Needless to say, Bobby is well versed and opinionated on various subjects.
On the subject of pugilistic dementia, Bobby strongly believes that the central issue of pugilistic dementia is the genetic susceptibility to take a punch. Bobby addressed the AMA and reporters several years ago on this subject, and cited several examples. For instance, the Quarry brothers are two of the most unfortunate and well known examples of ex-fighters spiraling into decline (and death) due to pugilistic dementia. Bobby pointed out that the issue wasn’t necessarily that they were boxers, but that they were brothers.
In other words, the Quarry brothers had the same genetic code, and may not have been able to sustain punishment like Jake LaMotta. On that note, Bobby noted that LaMotta has been lucid decades after his career ended, and not many fighters took brutal punishment like LaMotta did during his long career. More importantly, LaMotta had one of the best chins in boxing history. Thus, people are simply programmed differently, and will be affected by blows to the head accordingly. In turn, banning boxing because of pugilistic dementia or other injuries is nonsensical, especially considering the disabling injuries and deaths that occur in other sports.
On a similar subject, Bobby always appreciated the attention he’s received from fans, but also sensed some hypocrisy when people would comment that he was smart or good looking for a boxer.
“To this day, they’ll say to me, ‘You’re pretty smart for a fighter.’ I say, ‘So if I’m a carpenter, I’m stupid?’ They’ll say, ‘You’re not bad looking for a fighter.’ I’ll say, ‘If I’m a lawyer, I’m ugly?’ The connotation of a fighter is such a derogatory term, that people just can’t believe certain things. Listen, I’m a member of Mensa. I’m in the top 2% of people in the entire world when it comes to intelligence. What do you mean? I’m smart for a fighter? I’m smarter than you! I’m either intelligent, or I’m not. I’m either attractive, or I’m not. It has nothing to do with my profession.”
Since the days of Jack Johnson, boxing and the issue of race have always been explosively linked. The issue will always exist, and is unavoidable regardless of whether we feel comfortable discussing the subject. Czyz had some comments about race and boxing. During Czyz’s amateur career, he won a major tournament on national television. The press asked him a variety of questions, including the issue of Bobby becoming a ‘White Hope.’
“I understood the ‘White Hope’ bull**it because that surrounded me all the time. They asked me if I considered myself a “White Hope.’ I said, ‘Listen, I’m white and I’m hopeful, but not for everybody else…for me!’ I used to joke about it because if I beat everybody in the world who is black or hispanic or white, that doesn’t mean anything other than I did the work. Rocky Marciano beat everyone who was white, black, or hispanic. It didn’t mean anything other than he was a great fighter.”
On another subject, after Mike Tyson bit off a portion of Evander Holyfield’s ear in their 1997 rematch, Czyz testified on behalf of Tyson as Tyson was on the cusp on being suspended. Bobby cited one of his own fights as an example of committing a seemingly inexplicable act in a split second during a fight. Bobby called it “situational performance blackout.” Bobby described “situational performance blackout” in the following manner.
“Sometimes, you’re so caught up in what you’re doing…there’s so much pressure on you…that you don’t remember it…it’s just a reflex…it doesn’t register with your conscious mind.”
Bobby used anecdotal experience to illustrate his point. In Bobby’s cruiserweight defense against Donny LaLonde, Bobby was in complete control of the fight. At one point late in the fight, Bobby elbowed LaLonde in the face. The action was unprovoked and blatant. The referee deducted a point, but Bobby still won a clear and easy decision. To this day, Bobby is still amazed that he elbowed LaLonde. Czyz’s illustration may not completely explain Tyson’s actions, but provides insight into a phenomenon doctors at the hearing actually agreed with Czyz on.
Regarding the issue of fear, Bobby believes that fear is the prime motivational force behind the actions of everyone. Today, Bobby gives motivational speeches, and emphasizes fear, and the ability to overcome fear, as a way to become successful.
I also asked Bobby questions about the feasibility of a federal commission to reform boxing. Several years ago, Bobby was approached about boxing reform after the infamous and controversial James Toney – Dave Tiberi middleweight title fight. Many felt Tiberi was robbed, and an investigation ensued.
Senator William Roth, from Tiberi’s home state of Delaware, and Senator John McCain came up with the Professional Boxing Corporation Act. They asked for Bobby’s input, and staff counsel sent Bobby a copy of the Professional Boxing Corporation Act. Bobby vehemently asserted that it would never work in its pure form. He contacted them, and gave them his opinion.
“There will be more big money lobbying against this that the Professional Boxing Corporation Act will never come out of committee.”
They then offered to fly Bobby in to testify in front of the Senate Subcommittee of Organized Crime Investigating Boxing. Bobby was skeptical, but agreed. Bobby paraphrases what he said.
“With all due respect, Senators, many of you have more degrees than a thermometer, but you’re boxing illiterates. You’re boxing knowledge is slim to none, and you’re not educated. You don’t know how the game works….”
Bobby gave examples of how the sanctioning bodies function as a sort of modern, legalized version of how organized crime worked behind the scenes in boxing decades ago. Thus, partially because of the power the sanctioning bodies wield, in addition to other factors, federal reform is really a moot point.
In the end, the Professional Boxing Corporation Act actually came out in a morphed and distorted form from its original intent. It never truly dealt with the main issues discussed when Bobby addressed the Senators in Washington. Bobby was actually offered a position as the Executive Director of the Professional Boxing Corporation Act, but declined.
On a serious personal note, I asked Bobby questions regarding his DUI’s and departure from Showtime. Bobby told me that like a lot of people in his area, he was being stopped often by the police. He was being stopped regularly for almost a year before he was charged with his first DUI. He was never stopped for reckless driving, and his DUI’s were typically in the range of .11 or .12. He felt he simply failed to wait long enough before driving. Bobby said he knows over two dozen people in his area who have received multiple DUI’s. Nevertheless, he lost his license.
“It’s embarrassing. It draws some bad publicity because it’s me (in the public eye).”
He was also forced to undergo mandatory state alcohol rehabilitation because of the amount of DUI’s. Bobby gives his description of things he learned in rehab despite the nature of his DUI’s.
“One thing I did learn in the rehab is that they talk about all of the things….that you have to take a ‘moral inventory’ of yourself. I think even for me, as much as I like to think I’m always doing the right thing, sometimes I’m doing the wrong thing, and I know I’m doing the wrong thing. I do it anyway because I just choose to. My mind does control everything I do.”
Regarding his departure from Showtime, Bobby indicated that he was led to believe that his job was not in jeopardy unless he was incarcerated. Ultimately, however, he was given a severance package from Showtime. It surprised him, but at the same time, he was becoming bored with a lot of the heavy corporate dictates. He loved being around the fighters, but other factors were burning him out.
“They were taking me away from me. They were taking away the essence of me. The thing that made me attractive as an analyst was the fact that I did the fighting and can also articulate well. They were chopping me up to be this corporate, stale guy.”
Currently, Bobby is doing some commentating work for Chicago-based promoter Bobby Hitz, and has been approached to do some work in Philadelphia as well.
Outside of boxing, Bobby is involved in several business ventures. At around the time he was parting ways with Showtime, Bobby was approached by friends in the insurance and securities industry regarding a new and innovative trademarked product. Bobby passed his examinations (third in a class of about thirty students), and informed me that the product possesses tremendous intrinsic value and external, financial rewards. It’s a nice step in a different direction at this time in his life.
In closing the interview, I asked Bobby about his personal and professional legacy. His answers provide a refreshing and perhaps unexpected insight into the mind and character of an unusual man.
On the subject of Bobby’s legacy as a person at this juncture in his life, he joked, “Oh boy, that’s a dangerous question.” Bobby actually detailed some of his personal shortcomings. He admitted to being a “lady’s man”, and that he likes to “run” with a younger group of people periodically. He acknowledged that he also sometimes does crazy things, and disappoints himself in the process.
On the other side of the coin, Bobby described himself as a “diehard friend.” Today, his ex-wife is actually a close friend. After he and Kim were married in 1991, three of Bobby’s ex-girlfriends called him asking for advice on their boyfriends. Kim’s ex-boyfriend attended Bobby and Kim’s wedding, and a few of Bobby’s ex-girlfriends attended the wedding as well. Despite any differences or break-ups, Bobby is typically a long-term and reliable friend when a strong bond is established.
I was also intrigued to learn that Bobby has an “eclectic” group of friends from various age groups and demographic backgrounds. He regularly talks to a high school friend on the phone, and plays gin and goes golfing with friends in their sixties. He makes friends easily, and “loves people.” He also views himself as a good son and brother, although he’s not able to see his mother and siblings often because they live in different areas. One of Bobby’s brothers lives in Turkey. He is also very devoted to his daughter.
As far as Bobby’s professional legacy, Bobby described his career as a boxer with a mixture of thoughtful analysis and humor.
“Not great. Not extraordinary, but solid. I’ve competed in the top 10 in six different weight divisions, won world titles in three (including the WBU super cruiserweight title), acquitted myself well, never a disgrace to myself or the sport. It’s just a solid legacy. ‘Solid’ is probably the most reasonable word I can use. I came, I saw, and most of the time, I kicked some *ss. I didn’t duck anybody. I fought whoever was there. I fought the best of my divisions where I could. I did what I could. I brought everything to the table. You know, there’s an old saying, ‘You gotta bring a** to get it.’ Well, mine’s pretty big, and I brought all of it.”
One of the unique facts about Bobby’s career is that he fought the best contenders and champions available to him from middleweight to heavyweight. As a way to illustrate the differences between middleweight and heavyweight, I asked him to describe what it was like to spar with Tony Ayala Jr. and Ray Mercer. Here’s what Bobby had to say.
“When I was sparring with Tony Ayala, I weighed like 160, 163, 164. Our sparring sessions were so vicious, that when were out at Caesar’s Tahoe, people four, five, six floors up would hear about it, and come down to watch. Eventually, his father said to my father: ‘Listen, no offense, but I don’t want our sons sparring anymore. They’re two competitive nuts. They’re going to leave the best years of their lives in here. They can’t do it. They’re fighting in here. They’re not sparring.’”
Bobby went on to further describe the sparring sessions.
“Our sparring sessions were like wars. He only knows one way to fight, and I only know one way to fight. Our sparring sessions were better than most fights. They were just amazing. It was funny because early in his career, he (Ayala) got staggered (staggered and knocked down by Mario Maldonado). In the gym, with the head gear and stuff, you had a little more protection. We had 18 ounce gloves instead of 10, but there were times in the gym---and he’s a vicious body puncher---that he hit me a couple of times in the body that I wanted to fu**in’ throw up on him. But also, there were times that I would catch him, too.”
Bobby then talked about his sparring with Ray Mercer.
“Ray Mercer hit me once that I thought a piece of cement fell out of the ceiling of the Triple Threat Gym. Jesus Christ! He was weighing about 235 pounds, and I was weighing about 195 at the time. He was right in front of me, and I couldn’t see him, but I recover fast. That was one of my best attributes. As soon as he hit me, I went, ‘Whoa!’ I immediately ducked and stepped to the right. Whatever he hit me with, I knew something else was coming. Get out of harm’s way, but as soon as I’m out of harm’s way, it takes me two seconds to recover, and then I go about my business.”
Bobby also informed me that he was sometimes able to get the better of Mercer, and some of their sessions were battled on even terms. He also told me a story about a sparring session with former heavyweight contender David Bey.
“When I was training out in Arizona before I fought Robert Daniels, I weighed 188 pounds and I was sparring with David Bey, who weighed 237. There was a point in the third round---this is a really funny story---that I was beating him so bad that Tommy Parks forgot to call time to end the round. We didn’t have a bell. David Bey said, ‘Hey, does somebody have the f**kin’ time!’ Tommy then said ‘time.’ It was four and a half minutes. Tommy was getting such a kick out of seeing me beat him that he forgot to check the clock. We joked about it for years. Tommy said, ‘David Bey is still mad at me because I let him get a beating for an extra minute and a half.’ We used to laugh about it.”
Needless to say, the career and life of Bobby Czyz has never been boring. He is unique and sometimes controversial, but also generous and friendly. He is fiercely independent, but is also amazingly protective and loyal. He is unusually bright and well spoken considering the stereotype of his profession, but he is also unusually bright for any profession. He defies and shuns most stereotypes. In kind, he is a member of Mensa, but once described himself as “the dumbest genius ever.”
Bobby Czyz is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, and has been inducted into the National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame as well. Bobby, who happens to be 1/4 Polish and 3/4 Italian, is on the ballot to be inducted into the Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.
In my opinion, considering Bobby’s long-term accomplishments as a professional prizefighter, and that he was self-managed during most of his career, he should be an automatic inductee into the Los Angeles-based World Boxing Hall of Fame. Hopefully, that organization will act appropriately and include Bobby among other inductees who didn’t accomplish as much as Bobby did during his career. The following is a link to the WBHF: www.wbhf.org/index.html.
As far as Canastota goes, I’m still confused as to the criteria a fighter must meet to be inducted into Canastota. In viewing the list of fighters inducted into Canastota (http://www.ibhof.com./), instinct tells me that some fighters belong, and others don’t. I respect all fighters, but when you look at the IBHOF list of inductees, you’ll see that many don’t fit in with the accepted greats of the past. In fact, I believe officials of the IBHOF would be well served in the future to put a one-year moratorium on inductions to establish an iron clad criteria to uphold the integrity of Canastota in the future.
Regarding the IBHOF and the career of Bobby Czyz, Bobby described his legacy as “Not great. Not extraordinary, but solid.” In my opinion, Bobby’s legacy as a fighter is definitely solid, but his legacy is also sprinkled with extraordinary accomplishments under adverse and uncustomary circumstances. Bobby Chacon was inducted into Canastota this year. He is one of the toughest warriors to enter the ring, but did he really accomplish as much over the long haul as Bobby Czyz, and other fighters as well? Another example to consider is the induction of featherweight titlist Barry McGuigan.
In examining Czyz’s career, one item to ponder ---without even taking into account Czyz’s solid accomplishments at middleweight and super middleweight--is Czyz’s weight increases as a percentage of body weight from light heavyweight to cruiserweight to heavyweight. Can you imagine Chacon, who won his first world title as a featherweight, bulking up to fight world championship bouts and highly ranked contenders between junior welterweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight? All told, the overall situation needs to be analyzed, and only time will tell whether Bobby Czyz’s accomplishments during an unorthodox and decorated career merit induction into Canastota.
If I could create my own Hall of Fame, Bobby would actually be part of boxing’s version of the “All Madden Team.” In contrast to Bobby’s conventional persona, his heart and soul are deeper and infinitely more complex than the images and sound bites we get through print an electronic media. As you’ve read in this interview, he took amazing risks, faced extreme adversity, battled against the odds, and was willing to face anyone at anytime regardless of size or reputation. Bobby Czyz isn’t simply “white, bright, and polite,” he is actually one of the most misunderstood and inordinately tough fighters to enter the ring during the modern era.
Author’s Note: I would be certainly be negligent in my duties without making special acknowledgements to several people who played a significant role in this interview process. Special thanks go out to Matt DiTomasso for making this interview possible. To Wayne DiMaggio, for providing some of the newer pictures of Bobby in Part 3 of the interview series. To Tony Paglucci, Sr. and Tony Paglucci ,Jr., for providing additional insight into Bobby’s career and life. Tony Sr. was in Bobby’s corner for most of his fights, and functioned as a sparring partner periodically in Bobby’s career. Most importantly, to Bobby Czyz, for the thoughtful gratitude, time, and effort he put into this interview.
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