The rising undefeated super welterweight and son of a boxing legend seeks to carve out his own legacy as he prepares to face Terrell Gausha Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.
Most stars in any sport seek a standard. For the legendary, late Kobe Bryant, it was his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant.
The two would constantly battle each other in one-on-one games, with the elder Bryant never taking it easy on his son. He would shove young Kobe down. He would pound him into the pavement driving to the basket. Kobe didn’t beat his dad until he was 16. That’s when Kobe knew he arrived. That’s when he knew no one in the world could stop him. Joe rarely played Kobe again.
Tim Tszyu, too, had a built-in standard under his roof—his father, the legendary Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu. His measuring tool wasn’t an outdoor pavement court, or an open hardwood gym. No, Tim’s came on a dirt hill behind the Tszyu house in Australia, where Kostya would wake his son up to run each morning since he was eight.
Tim beat Kobe by a year. He beat his dad when he was 15. It was the last hill, and Tim bolted by Kostya for the first time. Kostya came up from behind and darted a look at Tim, peering up panting heavily, hands on his knees, and a smile a mile wide. The father said nothing to the son, until later, when Kostya uttered, “I accept the fact that you’re a little quicker.”
Kostya never really told Tim who he was. Tim just knew his father fought. Nothing more. He was born into a boxing culture and used to wonder why everyone would gravitate to Kostya when they were in public.
Kostya would joke to his son, “I’m king of the world.” Tim was around six when he began realizing his father was a world champion boxer. He kept replaying his father’s victory over Zab Judah on YouTube.
The boxing world is curious about Tim.
More answers may come this Saturday, when the Son of Tszyu makes his United States debut against U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha in a 12-round super welterweight main event in a PBC event on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Until Saturday, the 27-year-old Tim Tszyu (20-0, 15 KOs) fought exclusively in Australia, where his father called home in 1993 after leaving the former Soviet Union as a member of the national boxing team and military. However, Tim’s first love growing up was soccer. Eventually, though, he knew he would box. There’s a baby photo of him trying to balance himself in blue boxing gloves that are as big as him.
“ I’m Tim Tszyu now ... I’m doing this on my own name. ” Undefeated Super Welterweight Contender - Tim Tszyu
“That was it, I found another love in soccer,” Tim said. “From 10 to 15 years old, I played at rep level and proudly represented St. George and Bankstown. After spending some time in Moscow, the first thoughts of becoming a professional boxer entered my mind. I lived and grew up around boxing. I was never really exposed to my dad’s celebrity status. I was exposed to his type of training. That came early.”
Kostya would wake up Tim when he was eight to run.
“My father was brutal in the ring, and I loved the physicality of boxing, which drew me to the sport,” said Tim, the oldest of three. “Growing up with my dad, he was like a military sergeant. He was brutal and disciplined and it really led to us not being spoiled little brats growing up. Everyone would think we were spoiled little brats. It was the complete opposite. Dad made us into tough individuals, and discipline was a major part of our lives.
“I remember when I was in third grade, dad would wake me up at 5:30 every morning to go for a run, then come back after school to do boxing training. It was just a part of us. I was running four, five miles—as an eight-year-old. I used to run with him and losing was never an option. I remember having knee problems, and my dad saying, ‘I don’t give a s—t, you’re still running.’
Tim says he knows Gausha is a quick, crafty opponent. He’ll deal with it like he did his pro debut against Zorran Cassady on December 17, 2016, in Sydney, Australia. Kostya arrived and sat ringside. Tim won by six-round decision, but the only voice Tim could hear was his father’s. And Kostya’s demanding voice was, well … “irritating,” Tim recalled, laughing. “I remember thinking, ‘Dad will you shut up, I’m boxing here.’ I love my dad. I love my dad’s support. But I see where he was coming from. I’m his son. He’s a proud man. I was getting hit and he couldn’t do anything about it. It’s up to me to fight my battles.
“This is a new chapter for me. I’m opening a new book, this is where it all begins for me (in the U.S.),” Tim said. “I’ll be going back to Australia after the fight. I’m Tim Tszyu now. Dad is someone that I looked up to, but I’m Tim Tszyu now. I’m doing this on my own name.”
For a closer look at Tim Tszyu, check out his fighter page.