Exckusive interview by Charles C. White - How is Bobby Czyz doing these days?
Article posted on 21.04.2009
Bobby Czyz: Well after the accident things were not easy, physically and otherwise. After being in a coma for 28 days plus a seven week hospital stay, my body was left in a bad way. Prior to this I got a divorce, had a bad run with the duis, which cost me my job, and then I got beat in a business deal for over $480,000 that kinda bankrupted me, put me in an ugly place. Stayed with a set of friends, and started getting back on my feet, and then low and behold, I get in a bad accident. Stayed with a different set of friends, and then met a wonderful girl, and I’m living with her as I’m starting to build my life back together and I have some incredible potential in front of me in some business deals that I’m getting involved in, so it’s never a dull moment, but I think the future looks pretty bright..
How did you get involved in boxing?
BC: Well my father started training me believe it or not when I was four. When I was 10 and my brothers Vince and Toney were nine and seven he said one day, “it’s not that you want to box, it’s that you’re going to box and I’m taking you to the gym on Saturday and you’re going to learn how to box. And from 10 years old until I was 15, so for the next five years he told me and my brothers we didn’t have a choice. After I was 15, he said “if you guys want to stop you can” And while both of my brothers chose to stop, I chose to continue, and you know, the rest winds up being history. There was no easy way. No easy task.
What was the toughest fight of your career?
BC: Oh… I guess the toughest fight of my career would be the last one because I’m past my prime, I’m 5’ 10’’, and I’m fighting the 6’ 5’’ 247 lb. Corrie Sanders, and I just didn’t really have a real chance, but I figured I would take my shot, and stepped up to the heavyweight division, and took my shot with Holyfield, but it wasn’t the same thing. This guy was just so big and so quick for his size, and I was just so far beyond my prime that I just could not adjust or react properly to even stay in the fight. So that would be the toughest fight, the hardest one, and the one that I lost in the most horrible fashion.
Who was the hardest puncher that you ever faced?
BC: Hardest puncher I ever faced…well actually in the gym, Ray Mercer, he hit so hard that I actually thought that a piece of cement fell out of the ceiling. And I was wearing 18 ounce gloves and head gear. He really can punch hard. And I’ve worked with a lot of heavyweights, I’ve worked with Mitch Green, David Bey, I fought Holyfield, Corrie Sanders…Corrie Sanders was quick, not a devastating puncher, but so quick that you can’t adjust, and it is very difficult if you don’t adjust and get hit with four more shots, there is no real time for your system to reset itself. And one thing I had always done as a youngster, and when I say as a youngster, I mean my prime, is that I reset myself pretty quickly, he hit me with his Sunday punch like Holyfield, during one of the rounds he threw a tremendous left hook and I smiled at him and said “nice shot” and one of the announcers said “can you believe that Czyz said nice shot to Evander Holyfield?” So I have always taken a good shot, which was something that I always did well.
Tell me about the controversy surrounding your fight with Evander Holyfield…
BC: Yeah, after the second round, I came back to the corner and my face started to burn really bad and my eyes were burning, but I knew that it was not… you know like an Indian sun tan when somebody rubs your arm real hard. This was not a friction burn, this was a chemical burn. I could feel my eyes burning, and my face burning, and I said to Tommy “something’s wrong” and it started getting worse, to the point where my vision started getting cloudy. To this day, I used to have 20/15 vision, that’s how good my vision was, and after the fight it was 20/35 to 20/40, and to this day that pisses me off. I had a plastic surgeon and an optometrist certify that what was used on my face was nothing short of a serious exfoliating agent. Something peeled my entire face, the skin off. Within two days, my entire face peeled off. I don’t know of anybody that punches you like that, and that becomes the result. You can’t punch somebody’s skin off, you peel it off with a chemical. And that is what the controversy was about. I had other problems with my back at that time in my career, and Tommy Parks and I were talking in the corner and I thought he was eluding to something in my back and it became confusion because my eyes were what was killing me.
Do you ever feel the need to lace up the gloves one more time and make a run for the title, as many former champs feel the need today?
BC: Well I know why they all want to do it. I wish I were still in my prime, I wish I was still young enough to compete at that level. The thrill of walking up those stairs, you know one man versus another man, only the winner survives; second place is last place, the ultimate gamble of body and soul so to speak. I love the thrill and the high of fighting, but I am not foolish enough to think that I could do what I once did so very well at all now, even for a short period of time.
How far does a prime Bobby Czyz go in today’s light heavyweight, cruiserweight, and heavyweight divisions?
BC: Well as a heavyweight…I’m not a heavyweight so I wouldn’t even rank myself in that division. As a light heavyweight, when I was in my prime I could stay with the best of them, you know at any given time. Bob Foster paid me such an incredibly nice compliment once, saying that he thought that I was one of the best light heavyweight champions since he had retired. And I never thought that I was as good as Michael Spinks. I knew in my heart that I wasn’t. I’m not foolish; I’m also very good at being able to assess myself as well as others. But there are a lot of people that I would have beat. For whatever reason we didn’t fight, I would have beaten Tommy Hearns. Tommy Hearns was technically always considered a better fighter than me, but he would have never beaten me, same way he would never beat Iran Barkley, cause he just wasn’t tough enough to do so. And that is difficult to explain to someone. He was a better fighter, well then why did he get knocked out and then dominated the second time. If he was a better fighter then why didn’t he win? Because his style will not beat a tough, rugged, hard punching, decent chinned person that stays in shape, because Tommy always got tired and had no chin, and those things are factors all across the board.
You were involved in a horrific car accident a few years back, how has your recovery been so far? Are you fully healed?
BC: Well the doctor told me when I went into the hospital on Friday April 13th of that year, not in good shape, they told me that I had three days, maybe five days to live, and they didn’t think I was going to come out of it. They said that everything was just too bad. My lungs were burnt on the inside, 18% of your entire body was burned to the second and third degree on the outside, and you just weren’t supposed to make it. And the doctor said to me, and it pissed me off a little bit, he said “in your advanced years,” I was only 45 at the time, it’s not like I was 70. He said “you don’t understand, if you were 22 or 23 years old, and in perfect shape, 95% of people would not come out this good.” I got my memory back in 7 days, and my body physically back to a certain point in like 10 days, which they told me would have taken a year to 18 months at best. And I had to leave the hospital. I checked out because I had Mersa in my throat and once they wouldn’t let me out of my room to rehab. I was quarantined. And so once the infectious portion of the disease was gone, I checked myself out of the hospital and said “you know what? Screw this I will rehab myself. I am better at this than you guys.” And when I came back, the doctor told me “you have rehabbed better than I would have imagined in my wildest dreams.” And this is the funniest quote a doctor has ever told me in my life, and me not being a religious person, I am an atheist, it isn’t any less funny. He said “if I could have the original Jesus Christ’s body, or yours after you die someday to evaluate and experiment on, I would pick yours.” He said “you don’t react normal to anything.” So I thought that was kind of funny being compared to Jesus Christ in that fashion.
For all of your devoted fans out there who wish to help the champ with his medical bills left over from the accident, is there still a way to contribute?
BC: You know what, if somebody wanted to help with that, there is still more than $500,000 in hospital debt that insurance didn’t cover. I will pay off that, but it will take a bit of time. If they wanted to, sure, they could go to www.bobbyczyz.com and contact me, I could tell them where to send it. I still have every once in a while a well wishing fan that does send me something, and I reply to them. Once I snap out of this, I think what I would like to do, because I remember just two short years ago when I had the accident that Joey Harrison, Joe and his son at Club Bliss, through a party for me. And all of the proceeds went towards the medical bills, and it wasn’t much, but it helped some, so when I snap out of this and make myself whole again, I am going to throw a party and this time it is going to be reversed, all they have to do is show up and I will pay for everything. I want to give back to the community that made me feel so good and loved. Tell people that if they want to send something, they can get in touch with me at bobbyczyz.com, if they really want to and I will correspond with them and tell them how to get that to me. Otherwise, their good wishes are all I really need.
Do you still train amateur fighters? And if so, are there any prospects that could make noise in today’s professional boxing ranks?
BC: No, actually no, it’s not something that interests me. And it’s not something I want to do. Right now I went back to school after I left Showtime and got my insurance license, selling group insurance products, I got involved in a couple of different commodities deals, and different avenues. It turns out that one of my strengths is finding things that people need, or people that others need to get in touch with, putting them together, doing business collectively, and participating in that fashion. I sort of find what you need if you need it and can pay for it.
What are you most proud of in your career?
BC: Well the thing that drove me to become a professional athlete was living forever, because not being religious, I don’t believe in heaven and God and eternity, so I wanted to be remembered forever. Now my name is in the history books on three separate occasions and for a number of years fighting as a world champion forever forward for as long as mankind shall exist, I will be a world champion in those divisions on those years and those dates, and that can not be taken from me, so achieving that immortality was what I set out to do, and secondly I wanted to leave behind a good, credible legacy for my daughter, and a name that she can be proud of, which I believe I have also done. Winning a second and third world title in two different divisions proved that I was not a one shot wonder or a fluke, and that my abilities were legitimately world championship caliber.
Do you keep up with boxing today?
BC: Actually not really, you know some of the major fights I watch, but I have been away from it, plus being in the hospital all of those weeks and a number of different things post hospital, it’s just taken me away from the game. And it’s not that hard for me to get back into it, as far as a fight is concerned, I know how to broadcast or breakdown or score a fight, or gauge a fighter’s ability, basically an expert analyst was my job, and based on my career, that’s what my track record showed I was, basically an expert analyst. I knew what to do.
I’m going to list a few names of fighters in the heavyweight division, tell me what you think of them…
Chris Arreola- BC: Haven’t heard about him, haven’t seen him.
Klitschko’s- BC: Well Wladimir Klitchsko was knocked out in two rounds by the same gentleman as me, Corrie Sanders. He was dropped four times in two rounds and destroyed. Wladimir Klitchsko is a better puncher than his brother Vitali, but he doesn’t have as good a chin, he’s not as good a boxer, his boxing skills have gotten better, his defensive skills have gotten better, but Vitali, all the way around, if they had to fight each other, would probably win the fight…much better chin, much more durable, and at that size, at those weights, that is a huge factor.
Alexander Povetkin- BC: Haven’t seen him as well.
David Haye- BC: Strike three (laughs). I’ve heard the name but I haven’t been following as closely as I’ve said.
Nikolay Valuev- BC: Saw him at a dinner once, but never saw him fight.
What do you think about Evander Holyfield continuing his career?
BC: I heard that Tyson’s coming out of retirement to fight Holyfield, I don’t know if there is any truth to that, but people would probably pay to see it just out of the sheer…if you will understand how I am phrasing this, out of the sheer morbidity of the possibility (laughs). People are obsessed with the morbid and the obscure. I don’t know what he (Holyfield) is trying to prove, you know, that he really did talk to God, and God said that he is going to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world again, it’s never going to happen. I don’t care how many times he thought he talked to God, it’s not going to happen. He’s past his prime, well past his prime. And I heard rumors through the grapevine that he lost his house now. A 55,000 square foot house is no small house; it’s more like a hotel. But at the same time, there is no need for him to fight anymore, or so I thought. But we heard Mike Tyson went bankrupt too, and he grossed a ridiculous amount of money in the millions figure, so I suspect that fighting for anybody who is that far past their prime, who will never ever live up to what they once were, has to do with money.
For my last question, do you have any message to send out to young fighters looking to make a name for themselves in today’s boxing world?
BC: I would tell any young fighter or athlete in general, but especially young boxers, because of the fact that boxing is not subsidized or taught at any school levels where you also have to get certain grades to play on the team in high school. You can’t be failing your classes and be on the football team, baseball team, or basketball team. Well it doesn’t work that way in boxing. You can come off the street and not be able to speak and still fight, and maybe fight well. But at the same time, if you don’t have a backup, any athlete, if they are athletic, careers are limited, time is limited. I would sincerely and severely emphasize their brains. Exercise their brains, learn a trade, learn something, and have something to fall back on, because someday, your body will not be able to do what it once did so well.
Well it has been a pleasure speaking with you Bobby, and thank you for the interview.
BC: Sure thing, have a good night.