IF Tim Tszyu can mirror the life of sacrifice that made his fighting father boxing royalty, a successful career of his own awaits.
For the first time in three years, Kostya Tszyu finds himself in Sydney, in familiar surroundings and amongst many of the boxing identities that helped him forge a Hall of Fame career in one of the hardest sporting pursuits.
As his son begins to break-out as the face of Australia’s next generation, Kostya sees a similar road to the one he travelled almost three decades earlier.
“If he (Tim) wants to achieve something, there’s no shortcuts,” Tszyu told The Main Event Boxing Podcast.
“How many kids, how many people, want to be on the top? Only few are able to do so. Why is that? I think the only way is through discipline to yourself, with yourself.
“No shortcuts, no excuses. He’s supposed to learn this way.”
Granted a life with many luxuries, Tim (14-0, 10 KOs) didn’t have to pursue a punch-for-pay career. But as fate would have it, the 24-year-old looks right at home under the bright lights.
When probed by host Ben Damon on his reason to pursue an unlikely path in boxing, the unified regional titleholder offered a measured response, citing a strict childhood under the guidance of his father.
“I think it’s for the love of the sport,” added Tim.
“The way I grew up, it was like a military camp. The only thing I know is like this. The discipline, it’s just a different upbringing, for sure.
“My hunger, I’ve always been a competitive person. I’ve never wanted to come second. I remember coming back home, I came second in cross country. I started waking up at 5.15am, and started finishing first every year after.
“There was no such thing as coming second. It was only first, it was the only option. Even to today, it’s in everything I do, even if I play soccer in the street, I have to come first.
“If I go play rugby, I have to come first. For something that I do for my career, there’s not even a slight consideration with me coming second. I will never allow anyone to try beat me.”
Despite the distance that now separates Tim from his famous father, the unbeaten and prodigious talent has grown into life in the spotlight, developing a formidable reputation of his own.
While many would see his dad’s presence as mandatory, Tszyu revealed a contrasting approach, one that would surprise the most ardent of his followers.
“I think it’s better than he’s in Russia,” explained Tszyu.
“I am my own person at the end of the day [and] I do my own stuff. My dad has different goals and experiences that he wants to achieve in his life now. Even though he’s finished boxing, I’m sure he’s got other aspirations now, that’s just how we are as humans, and I’ve got my own aspirations.
“We see each other more as friends, rather than just as dad and son type of relationship.
“I think it’s better that he is over there. That way, he’s much easier to deal with, because he is a hard person to deal with, and he knows that.”
The words might be harsh, but there’s a strong sense of reality in Tim’s words, which grants Kostya an elevated appreciation for the road less travelled, a new path that Tim is now journeying on his own.
“It’s hard, but Tim said a good thing,” said Kostya.
“He’s a grown man, and he’s becoming his own person. If he’s going to ask me (to come back to Australia)… I’ll be here. But he said the right thing, I’ve got another agenda.
“I’ve got two young kids (in Russia), but even the bond there, they will one day come to Australia.”
As preparations continue to intensify ahead of Tim’s fourth and final fight for the year against Cronulla-based slugger Jack Brubaker on December 6th, Tszyu is beginning to appreciate the difficulties of his travels.
The harsh lessons that he undertook as a child are now laced with a silver lining, one that has him well placed to achieve the lofty goal that deserts most in his profession, a world title.
“When you have to diet and train, there’s a lot of pressure built up,” Tim continued.
“I think once your career finishes, it’s a massive relief, and you just change as a person. That’s why my dad has changed now, he’s a much happier person than he was in the boxing days, that’s for sure.
“I’m glad that I got the army sergeant because I think if I didn’t go through that army sergeant type dad, than I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I’m proud of who I am today. From where we started this year, there’s a lot more responsibility, a lot more attention.
“I’ve learnt through experience, to stay focused, to block everything out, and to just have tunnel vision. There was not one thing that could disturb him (Kostya) and I’m slowly learning.
“I’ve only been in the sport for three years. Everything you learn is through experience.”