Bobby Czyz on the ropes: Boxing should step upWritten by Leroy Cleveland
If you're a fight fan over 40, you probably remember Bobby Czyz - a former three-time, two division world champion and famed Showtime boxing analyst.
(All quotes are courtesy of NJ.com)
As a fighter, he was showcased many times on network TV and cable during the 1980s and 1990s, fighting on ABC, ESPN, USA's Tuesday Night Fights and HBO against opponents such as Evander Holyfield, Donny Lalonde, Virgil Hill, Andrew Maynard, Dennis Andres and Prince Charles Williams.
“He was charming. He was handsome. He had people swooning at his feet,” said Kathy Duva, whose husband, Dan, had founded the promotion company, Main Events Boxing, two years earlier. “Everyone loved Bobby." she recently told NJ.com.
Fast fact: Nicknamed "Matinee Idol", Czyz was a member of the United States amateur boxing team whose other members died in the 1980 plane crash. Because of an auto accident one week before the fatal trip, Czyz was not on the plane.
“Among New Jersey boxers, you’d have to rate him in the top 10 of all time – and he’s not No. 10, either,” said Henry Hascup, president of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame. “He was one of the best, for sure.”
And as the 'nuts and bolts' Showtime analyst during the 1990s and early 2000s, he covered a literal who's who' in boxing and some of the biggest fights in the history of the sport such as Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield 1 and 2, Pernell Whitaker vs Julio Cesar Chavez and Tyson vs Lennox Lewis.
Now Czyz, a 56 year old former three-time world champion who entertained millions and was subsequently considered by many as boxing's best TV analyst, is bagging groceries at the Somerville, NJ ShopRite according to a story published last month by NJ.com.
Fast fact: Czyz is a member of Mensa, the organization for people who have scored in the highest 2% of takers in an IQ test. He even wore a shirt with "MENSA" on it while walking to the ring to fight Evander Holyfield.
“It’s chaos being me,” Czyz uttered.
So, what happened?
“I’ve got lots of regrets,” Czyz said. “I have more regrets than you have thoughts.”
Following a successful boxing career that generated over $2 Million in earnings, a 40 year old Czyz had made a name for himself as an boxing analyst on Showtime until he was relieved of his duties.
“They made it look like I was an out-of-control nut job,” he said.
Fast fact: Bobby was inducted into the Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame and New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame
“They canned me because, they said, of my fourth DUI,” Czyz said. “The first three didn’t bother them, I guess. Don King was a convicted two-time murderer. He was the promoter with an exclusive contract with Showtime. That didn’t bother them.”
Bobby insists the network had a personal beef with him and that his firing was not related to any negative publicity he may have generated as a result of his DUIs.
In the aftermath of his firing from Showtime, he would be forced to relinguish his driver's license. He would also be blackballed by other TV networks and lose money compliments of a divorce settlement and poor business ventures.
The once iconic Czyz was now reeling.
And then came perhaps the biggest blow of them all.
On April 13, 2007, Czyz said he was in the backseat of a car when his driver plowed into a tree at a high rate of speed. Bobby would be helicoptered to the hospital where he was found to have suffered broken ribs, facial lacerations and collapsed lungs among other ailments.
Not expected to survive, Bobby woke up from a medically-induced coma after 28 days and left the hospital following a near 2 month stay.
“The nurse dropped her clipboard and broke into tears when she saw me,” he said. “She yelled out, ‘You can’t be that healthy!’ The doctor who worked on me was standing six feet away from her. ‘Bobby Czyz, you were dead. You flat-lined twice on the table. You were the deadest anybody’s ever been to come back to be this healthy.’”
But not all was smooth. The former world champion incurred a short-term memory problem that's still with him to this day.
... Oh, and his hospital bill after insurance coverage was $1.6 million.
Fast fact: Czyz had a quick start to his professional boxing career in the early 1980s was in line for a shot against world middleweight champion Marvin Hagler prior to being derailed by Mustafa Hamsho (UD 10) in November 1982.
Still without a driver's license, Czyz, last September, took the first step towards renewal by applying for a job at the local ShopRite.
“If I were taking Lyft to work and home, it would cost me $160 a week for a job that pays $250,” he said. “That’s the definition of insanity.”
“I’m in the sports history books three times,” he said. “I can’t die. I can’t die. It’s like Julius Caesar can’t die and presidents can’t die and Hitler can’t die. The reason for boxing is, I needed a legacy. I need something to be in place when I’m gone.”
Boxing should step up
Bobby Czyz made some mistakes but has also been victimized by bad luck. As a result, it's hard to believe the boxing world hasn't created opportunities for a man who has done so much for the sport.
His boxing knowledge, alone, is priceless.
Why is he working for $250/week as a bagger at s supermarket? And why hasn't anyone in the sport given him a second chance?
Well-spoken and intelligent, there's no doubt Bobby could, in some capacity, be a trainer or manager, or even a consultant for promotion agencies. And what about commentating again? He's paid his dues for his DUIs.
Remember when Marv Albert was ousted from NBC after he became became embroiled in a sex scandal and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery charges? He would return to the network several years later.
At worst, Czyz could certainly be a boxing referee or judge. The money wouldn’t be great but it would be much better than what he's doing now and his celebrity status would add to the intrigue of big events.
Boxing shouldn't turn its back on Bobby Czyz.
(All quotes are courtesy of NJ.com)
Bobby Czyz highlights