Born: February 10, 1962
Town: Orange, New Jersey
Robert Edward Czyz was born February 10, 1962 in Orange and moved the Passaic County town of Wanaque when he was 10. Bobby and his younger brothers, Vince and Tony, were driven by an overbearing father who was obsessed with reading and knowledge. Bobby’s IQ was tested at 135 and later he became a member of MENSA. Bobby’s dad also demanded physical perfection and pushed his sons into boxing at an early age. All three went on to have success at the amateur level, but Bobby had the talent and toughness to keep moving forward. As a teenager he was invited to joint the U.S. amateur boxing team.
In March 1980, Bobby was involved in a car accident. He was unable to accompany Team USA on a trip to Poland. During that trip, the Polish Airlines plane on which the team was traveling crashed and killed all aboard.
Bobby began his pro career as a middleweight six weeks after the tragedy. ESPN televised the fight, partly because of Bobby’s interesting back story, but also because of Bobby’s good looks.
Over the next 2 ½ years, Bobby was undefeated in 20 bouts, including victories over veterans Bruce The Mouse Strauss and Reggie Jones, for the New Jersey middleweight crown. He also beat Robbie Sims, the half-brother of Marvin Hagler. Bobby seemed destined for a title shot against Hagler, but a loss to Mustafa Hamsho derailed this plan and Bobby decided to move up into the light heavyweight class.
In 1986, Bobby scored a technical knockout against IBF title holder and Olympic gold medalist Slobodan Kacar in Las Vegas. As the new champion, Bobby survived three title defenses before falling to Charles Williams late in 1987. In 1989, he was given shots at the IBF and WBC light heavyweight crowns, but lost both times. A move up to the cruiserweight classification yielded better results, as Bobby won a split decision over Preacherman Daniels in 1991. Four years later, Bobby won the WBU supercruiserweight title.
During this time, Bobby began planning a second career. He became a boxing announcer, often working for Showtime with legendary cornerman Ferdie Pacheco and Steve Albert. His gig ended after three years when he was charged with a fourth DUI in a span of six years.
In October 1996, Bobby met former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield in Madison Square Garden. Holyfield hadn’t fought in over a year after losing to Riddick Bowe. Both fighters were 34 years old. Holyfield was about to get a a second wind in his career—he would reclaim his heavyweight crown against Mike Tyson in his next fight. Unfortunately, Bobby’s career was headed in the opposite direction. He could not answer the bell for the sixth round, and fought just once more before retiring with a career record of 44–8 with 28 knockouts. Afterwards, Holyfield said Bobby was the toughest fighter he ever faced.