Zbigniew Pietrzykowski died exactly eight years ago, on May 19, 2014. Why is it worth thinking about this great figure of Polish sport?
Three games at the Olympics yielded three medals. How many athletes can boast of such an achievement? In Melbourne in 1956, as a 21-year-old, he won the bronze in the intermediate category, in the semi-final he lost to the famous Laszlo Pappa† Four years later, in Rome, he won silver in the light heavyweight category, we will tell you in point three. In Mexico, in 1964, he became bronze again, because in the semi-final he lost – which was a surprise – to Alexei Kisielov from the Soviet Union. Pietrzykowski was a favorite of famed coach Felix Stamm. “Papa” called him “Piskorz” because he was hard to hit and slipped away from rivals. He was a left hand, he fought from the reverse position and that was his strength too.
Five starts at the European Championship yielded five medals, including four gold. Only on his debut, during the tournament in Warsaw, did he take bronze with a small defect (in the semi-final he lost to the Englishman Bruce Wells† It was an extraordinary championship, Stalin had been dead for two months, the security services were raging, but in one day – on May 24, 1953 – Poland won five gold medals. It was a success, after all, the teenager had never fought with a foreign rival before! And then there was only the highest podium:
– in West Berlin in lightweight 1955. Jak describes Leszek Błażyński in “Angel’s Fists” – a great biography dedicated to Pietrzykowski, the boxer had to make a lot of effort to lose 3 kg. First he went into a bathtub of hot water for fifteen minutes. Then he would jump into bed for an hour, covering himself with duvets and blankets. Before sweating, he ate egg yolks with sugar, drank lemon juice and tea. He used such treatments for more than a week. It helped. In the first fight, he defeated host Hans Rienhardt, who understood during the break after the first round that he didn’t stand a chance; In the final, the Pole defeated The Armenian of Janerian†
– in Prague in the middleweight in 1957 – he defeated the Yugoslav in the final Dragoslav Jakovljevic†
– in 1959 in the light heavyweight in Lucerne – in the final he defeated a Romanian Gheorge Negrea†
– in Belgrade in 1961 – no … started for science. He graduated in absentia from the Technical School for the Food Industry in Szopienice and passed his high school diploma;
– in Moscow at the light heavyweight in 1963 – in the final he defeated the representative of the hosts – Given by Pozniak†
He didn’t get a chance to prove himself at the world championships because at the time he started, they hadn’t played yet.
In the final of the Olympic Games in Rome, Pietrzykowski fought with dazzling talent Cassius Claywhich will later go down in history as Mohammed Ali† The American broke many of the boxing canons in effect at the time, but it wasn’t important because he delighted audiences and was effective. The Polish team had no idea that this 18-year-old boy would become a boxing legend.
He entered the ring without a mouthguard, his team had forgotten about him. It frustrated the Pole. However, Pietrzykowski started great, he hit his rival strongly, but it didn’t impress him. Then our fighter got out of shape, he had one more fight than Clay. After two laps he was leading on points, but he ran out of strength and… he wanted to give up. Stamm didn’t allow it, but in the third round, Clay made up for it. After the fight, Pietrzykowski, very tired, hung on the ropes. In interviews, he always emphasized that the rival was right to win. For the American it was the last duel in amateur rings, it started a great career as a professional boxer. After that, the two boxers still met with respect;
In 2001, they flew to Bielsko-Biała to shoot the commercial “Nobody Remembers Who was Second”. Besides Pietrzykowski they also appeared in it Sergio Olivathe best bodybuilder in the world he beat afterwards Arnold Schwarzenegger and Alan Beanwho landed on the moon less than six months after Neill Armstrong.
It is an entire era: between 1954 and 1965 he was not just a champion: in 1958. In lightweight he was the best in 1954, 1955 and 1956. In medium – in 1957, and in light heavyweight – in 1959-1965. No Polish boxer has won more Polish championship titles and his record was matched in 2005 by Andrzej Rżany, which, however, does not equal Pietrzykowski’s international performance.
in years 1954-67 he won all league matches, he hasn’t lost to another Pole for almost 15 years! What a series!
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He fought 44 times, won 42 matches and lost two. In total he fought 350 fights, of which 334 won, 2 drew and 14 lost.
The master grew up in an intellectual family, mother (interesting – née … Pietrzykowska) was a teacher. In the autumn of 1950 he first came into contact with boxing in Bielsko-Biała. his older brother, Victor, to whom they called “Wirek”, went to boxing at the Bielsko-Bialski Sports Society, while disagreeing with coaching in the section together. He was afraid that his brother, five years younger, would shame him. So Zbyszek secretly enrolled in the newly created boxing division of the Bialski Sports Club. Finally – when it turned out that he has talent, he makes progress – Wiktor brought him to BBTS.
Pietrzykowski had a huge advantage in Polish – and not only – rings. However, he did not want to end the duels prematurely, he often spared his rivals, and the Polish fans did not like it. It happened that they chased a boxer. His mother responded to the criticism in the 1950s by sending a letter to the radio. Her words are quoted by Leszek Błażyński. “My son realizes his dreams in accordance with his parental advice, going to the top, but not over the corpses. I would be sorry if Zbyszek used his strength too much against the weaker ones. This is not how he was raised” – wrote Jadwiga Pietrzykowska. His attitude was finally appreciated. In 1963, in a plebiscite”Sztandaru Młodych “and the sports journalist club” boxer was named the gentleman’s athlete of the year. Then he also got a prize Fair game†