Childhood & Early Life
Kostya Tszyu was born on September 19, 1969, in Serov, an industrial town in the former Soviet Union, to a Korean/Mongol father, who was a fitter in a metal factory, and a Russian mother, who was a nurse.
His father put a hyperactive Kostya in a boxing gym so that he could channelize his energy and also protect himself by fighting older boys. The Soviet amateur team coaches were impressed with the boy and sent him to the Soviet Union's amateur boxing travelling training camps.
While getting trained and fighting in tournaments simultaneously, he visited more than 30 countries and won various tournaments, like the Amateur Boxing World Championships. In 1987, at the Cuban world championship tournament, he was placed second and at the 1988 Summer Olympics, he reached till the third round.
He joined the Soviet military for some time, but did not go to war because he was selected as an elite athlete. In 1989, he participated in the world championships in Moscow and took the third place.
In 1991, he participated in the amateur world championships in Sydney. Impressed by the sights of Sydney, he decided to live in Australia. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, he immigrated to Australia, became an Australian citizen, and settled in Rockdale, Sydney.
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Kostya Tszyu turned professional in March 1992 at Melbourne and defeated Darrell Hiles by a knockout. In his fourth professional bout, he beat former WBC Featherweight Champion Juan Laporte, and in his sixth bout, he beat Sammy Fuentes by a knockout.
He again beat Fuentes in 1993. In the same year, he defeated Livingstone Bramble, a former World Lightweight Champion, at Newcastle, New South Wales.
In 1994, he beat Héctor López by a decision in ten, and Angel Hernandez by a knockout in seven. After the win against Pedro Chinito Sanchez by by a knockout in four, Kostya was ranked number one in the light welterweight division.
In 1995, he knocked Welterweight Champion Jake Rodríguez in the sixth round, and became the world champion. He defended the title by defeating former Super Featherweight and Light Welterweight World Champion Roger Mayweather, Hugo Pineda, Cory Johnson, and Jan Bergman.
In 1997, he lost for the first time, to Vince Phillips, and his world championship also went with it. After he defeated former world champions Calvin Grove and Rafael Ruelas, he beat Diosbelys Hurtado by a knockout in five.
He became the world champion once again in 1999 by beating former world champion Miguel Ángel González in ten, and twice retained it in 2000, by beating Ahmed Santos in eight, and Julio César Chávez, the former world champion, in six.
In 2001, Tszyu faced WBA Champion Sharmba Mitchell, taking the belt by a TKO after seven rounds. In the same year, he defeated the German Turk, Oktay Urkal. He finished the year by recovering his IBF belt in a unification bout with champion Zab Judah, by a knockout. As a result, Kostya became the first man in 30 years to unify the belts in the light welterweight division.
In 2002, he had only one bout, where he beat Ben Tackie of Ghana, the top-ranked contender of all three of his belts. He began 2003 by a fight against former world champion Jesse James Leija, whom he defeated by a knockout in six, and retained his title.
In 2004, he had a rematch with Sharmba Mitchell, his first fight as a professional in Moscow, where he knocked him out in three rounds. The fight proved that he was still one of the finest pound-for-pound boxers in the game. He was voted the ‘comeback fighter of the year’ by Ring magazine.
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He last fought on June 5, 2005, losing an 11th round TKO to Ricky Hatton at the M.E.N. Arena, Manchester, Lancashire. He also lost his world title by referee technical decision (RTD). Afterwards, what initially seemed like a brief break from boxing for Kostya, then 38, eventually turned into his unofficial retirement.
Currently, Kostya gives between 30-50 private boxing lessons a year to “some wealthy Russians who want to go a few rounds with a world champion”.
Awards & Achievements
Kostya Tszyu is a two-time light-welterweight world champion. As an amateur, he represented the Soviet Union at the 1989 World Championships and earned a bronze medal in the lightweight division.
He won a gold medal in the light-welterweight division at the 1991 World Championships. He also won gold medals at the 1989 and 1991 European Championships.
In 1995, he won his first professional world championship in light-welterweight—the IBF title. He also won the vacant WBC title in 1999 and the WBA (Super) title in 2001.
Kostya Tszyu married Natasha Anikina on September 24, 1993, after they immigrated to Australia. They have three children—Anastasia, Nikita, and Tim. Tim and Nikita are both boxers. In 2012, he separated from his wife Natasha and moved back to Moscow. His children are settled in Australia. Kostya has citizenship for both the countries.
He now lives in the outskirts of Moscow with his second wife Tatiana Averina, a former model and PR executive, whom he married in 2015. They have two children, Aleksander and Viktoria.
Kostya is an animal lover and has several pets including a Rottweiler, who has been with him for years, a pet diamond python, canaries, and fish.
He is involved in several court battles with his managers. One of his ex-managers Susie Bennell took him to court alleging that he owed her money. He was also asked to repay $3.5 million to another ex-manager Bill Mordey.