How a microwave and goldfish lured Kostya Tszyu

FROM the moment Konstantin Tszyu secured gold at the 1991 World Championships in Sydney, he appeared destined for professional glory.

As the boxing world watched on, eventual promoter Bill Mordey saw enough promise in the short display, attempting to lure the highly-touted amateur prospect to a professional contract, tabling a lucrative fight-fight deal in 1992.

The experience proved to be the start of a memorable journey for both fighter and promoter, as recalled by Tszyu’s ex-wife Natalia Tszyu.

“Bill Mordey, his ex-promoter, he just invited him for one year, and there was a contract for one year,” she told The Brand Konnect.

“We came to this country, no language, no idea… he was at the age 22 [when he] signed up his first contract.

“We were sitting with the promoters, and the interpreter… and all the sponsors. There was $100,000 on the table, and we said ‘yeah, that’s fine’. We couldn’t understand what the money is, $100,000.”

Sensing a deal was close, the Sydney-based entrepreneur looked to consolidate their agreement, offering Tszyu, a medal favourite for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, an opportunity to negotiate.

Their response was unexpected, with Kostya and partner Natalia making a pair of modest requests to the table of lucrative businessmen.

“Billy Mordey said, ‘what else Kostya would you like?” she explained.

“He (Kostya) said ‘I would love to have my insurance, if I can’t fight for the next five fights’. He (Mordey) said ‘what else?’. Through the interpreter, he said that we would love to have a microwave.

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“The promoters looking to each other… ‘what else?’. I said ‘Kostya, I would love to have a goldfish’. That means, in 1992, two young kids signed up a contract for $100,000, microwave and a goldfish.

“This is the true story. It’s Australia, a new country, we all go through this stage where it’s lonely. It’s normal because we first step into this country.

“We don’t have friends, we don’t have a mum. We don’t have a dad, no one is here.”

Tszyu, an eventual holder of the undisputed light welterweight championship, made his professional debut in front of 35,000 spectators in Melbourne, as Jeff Fenech made an unsuccessful challenge for Azumah Nelson’s WBC super featherweight crown in the main event.

Photo: Getty Images

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