Like father, like sons: Tim and Nikita Tszyu, sons of Kostya Tszyu, chase boxing dream

All grown up: Nikita (left) and Tim Tszyu hope to follow in their father's footsteps when they make their return to boxing on Saturday night. Picture: John Veage
All grown up: Nikita (left) and Tim Tszyu hope to follow in their father's footsteps when they make their return to boxing on Saturday night. Picture: John Veage

They are the sons of Australian boxing royalty and next Saturday night they will take their first steps back on the path towards emulating their legendary father.

Tim and Nikita Tszyu will take part in Fight Club Sydney’s Fight Night at the Croatian Club, Punchbowl in a pair of exhibition fights as they both embark on comebacks to the sport.

Tim, 21, faced four years off after a wrist injury while 18-year-old Nikita, a four-time junior national champion, spent two years away from boxing to concentrate on his HSC.

Both have their sights set on the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018 and want to follow their father, Kostya, a two-time light welterweight world champion, into professional boxing.

Growing up: Nikita (left) and Tim (right) with dad Kostya Tszyu in August 1999 after he won the vacant WBC title over Miguel Angel Gonzalez. Picture: John Veage

Growing up: Nikita (left) and Tim (right) with dad Kostya Tszyu in August 1999 after he won the vacant WBC title over Miguel Angel Gonzalez. Picture: John Veage

Tim has taken over running the Kostya Tszyu Boxing Academy at Rockdale and told the Leader he was happy to be back competing in the sport that is in his blood.

“If I don’t do it I think I’ll have a massive regret in my heart. I grew up in the sport. I knew how to punch before I knew how to walk,” he said. 

“I remember growing up every Sunday it was boxing, boxing, boxing. My family was only about boxing.

“When you’re doing boxing you can get sick of it easily. And you need to have that instinct to fall back in love with it. I think the time you take off motivates you to work even harder.

“I remember when my dad was fighting I think he had two years off from injuries. And he said he came back as a completely different fighter.”

If I don’t do it I think I’ll have a massive regret in my heart. I grew up in the sport. I knew how to punch before I knew how to walk.

Tim Tszyu

Tim created Fight Club Sydney to encourage people to try their hand at boxing. The course involves four training sessions per week for eight weeks, almost like a bootcamp of boxing, with an optional bout at the end.

Tim spent four hours on the phone with his father, a man who unified the light welterweight division between 2001 and 2003 and the first boxer to achieve the feat in 30 years, to help put together the program.

“Boxing isn’t just punching someone in the face,” Tim said.

“Dad always described it as a chess game. We’re teaching people how to properly fight. I speak to a lot of guys and they say ‘I just want to have one fight in my lifetime.’ People can get involved, get fit, lose a bit of weight. Then at the end they get to have a fight against someone at the same level as them, same weight. They can invite their friends and go out and have a drink after. It’s a celebration.”

Into his arms: Kostya Tszyu with his son Tim (left), nephew (right) and son Nikita (running) at Sydney International Airport after returning from his victory over American Zab Judah. Picture: Craig Golding

Into his arms: Kostya Tszyu with his son Tim (left), nephew (right) and son Nikita (running) at Sydney International Airport after returning from his victory over American Zab Judah. Picture: Craig Golding

As for going professional, the boys are happy to bide their time.

They remember seeing their father and what he went through behind the scenes – and what he had to sacrifice – to become a world champion.

“You give up your life for the sport,” Nikita said.

Tim agreed.

“People see the success only,” Tim said. 

“We got to witness first hand not just the success but everything involved in it. The discipline, the ups and downs. The highs and the lows. People just see the highs, the money the fame. But it’s more than just that.

“We saw with dad we he actually had to do, what he went through. Not many people in this world can do that. Boxing is a tough sport where your risk everything for everything.

“I think we can do it just because of our genetics, our work ethic and we’ve seen the way dad did it.

Happy days: Kostya Tszyu with son, Nikita, aged 1. Picture: Fairfax Media

Happy days: Kostya Tszyu with son, Nikita, aged 1. Picture: Fairfax Media

“But I think one step at a time. To go straight to a goal of ‘I want to be a world champion professional boxer’ I think that’s a bit unrealistic at the moment. It’s better to go one step at a time – Australian title, Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games, professional.

“One step at a time. That’s what dad always said – goal after goal after goal.”

The next Sydney Fight Club at Rockdale starts in August.

Anyone interested can inquire at info@fightclubsydney.com.

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