London 2012: Boxing legend Kostya Tszyu gets philosophical

Konstantin Tszyu (left) grapples with a student from the Special School of the Olympic Reserve Kostya Tszyu (left) grapples with a student from the Special School of the Olympic Reserve

Boxer Kostya Tszyu was the first light welterweight World Champion across all three boxing governing bodies in 30 years, and is viewed as a sporting hero in both Australia and Russia, where he holds dual citizenship.

Tszyu at the Olympic Games

  • Aged 18, Tszyu competed at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and reached the third round in the Light Welterweight category
  • Tszyu turned professional in 1992, ending his Olympic career. Only amateur boxers can qualify for the Olympic Games

The Special School of Olympic Reserve in Yekaterinburg, Russia, trains potential Olympians of the future from a young age - some of whom got the opportunity to ask Tszyu about his remarkable career.

The boxing legend recalls the sacrifices involved in pursuing success, and spoke about his personal philosophy: "treat others the way you treat yourself".

Hello Kostya! Tell us about yourself, please.

I have lived all my life for the one purpose only: to perform in the ring. In 1997 I became a professional athlete, and after I lost my first fight, everything I did in my life had only one purpose - to win the fight and to become the victor.

Tszyu spoke to the students about his 'life's philosophy' Tszyu spoke to the students about his 'life's philosophy'

When I was 12, I set myself one goal to pursue: to take part in the Olympic Games. When I was 18, I achieved it. Hard training in my adolescence enabled me to achieve such a success.

When I was 16 to 18 years old, I wanted to go out with my friends and to date girls like the other boys, but I didn't have time for that. The goal [of the Olympics] was important to me, and I focused on trying to achieve it every day, step-by-step.

How do you find your new career as a coach?

I can't say yet that it is a career for me! It's more like a hobby at the moment, which I greatly enjoy.

Has coaching changed your attitude to boxing?

Start Quote

My life's philosophy is to live a quiet life... to know when I wake up in the morning that I have lived by values that are good and right”

End Quote

I've become smarter. As an athlete, I did many combinations in boxing, performing them automatically, and trying to make them technically perfect during my training sessions.

Having become a coach, I now have to be able to explain to others how I do this or that combination.

How do you get psychologically prepared for important fights?

First of all, one should have trained properly for the fight. Being aware that you have trained hard and have prepared properly gives you additional inner confidence that you will win.

Have you ever had a role model athlete in your life?

In the 1970s there was a boxer called Serik Konakbayev from Kazakhstan. His fights were technically superb. It was due to him that I got my parents to take me to boxing lessons.

He was also my mum's favourite - she wanted me to become as attractive and handsome a boxer as him!

Tszyu is crowded by the aspiring athletes Tszyu is crowded by the aspiring athletes

Many years afterwards I became acquainted with Serik and we became good friends.

What does 'man's freedom' (liberty) mean to you?

I think that man's freedom is about the possibility of doing what you enjoy doing in your life.

But this freedom should operate within the limit of the law - it is the duty of every human to be a law-abiding citizen.

My life's philosophy is to live a quiet life; to be calm and to know when I wake up in the morning that I have lived by values that are good and right.

As (American author) Dale Carnegie said: "Treat people the way you would like to be treated". If you do any harm towards somebody, this harm will come back towards you.

What is most important and valuable to you in your life?

My relationships and friendships. Even in different parts of the world I always feel people's support and love.

Sometimes people come to me on the street and say that I influenced their lives to some extent. This is very important to me. These relationships and friendships I value most of all.

BBC World Class in partnership with the British Council are tracking the School of Olympic Reserve's progress as part of their partnership with Redruth School in Cornwall.

World Class twins the schools of World Olympic Dreams athletes worldwide with schools from the UK.

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