The Curious Case of Andrew Golota

Andrew GolotaBy Geoffrey Ciani: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt, is the ridiculous story about a man who ages backwards. I recently saw this film, which was inexplicably nominated for thirteen Academy Awards. Frankly, I was rather underwhelmed by it. It was extremely slow, terribly paced, far too long and, more to the point, it was boring as hell. I think it is fair to say that the movie is overrated, and most people I know who also saw it tend to be in strong agreement.

The next night, while in the midst of watching some older boxing matches from my private collection, my thoughts slowly began drifting towards movies like Raging Bull, Rocky, and Million Dollar Baby. This got me thinking, “Which current boxer’s life story would make the most entertaining movie?” As soon as this notion entered my head, I glanced up the television and watched as Riddick Bowe slumped over, writhing with pain, after being hit with a solid blow to the groin. As he crumbled to the canvas, his twisted face became the personification of agony. Eureka!

The Curious Case of Andrew Golota!

Golota’s life story is so bizarre and unusual that it would surely make for an outstanding motion picture. Few people in the sport have provided so much entertainment value both inside and outside the ring. The Polish pugilist was so unpredictable that one was always sure to tune in, but never sure what he was going to do next. Just when you start thinking things could not get any more peculiar or extraordinary, Golota would find new and innovative ways to prove you wrong. This is the stuff Hollywood stories are made of. The script would essentially write itself.

Consider the unusual circumstances which caused Golota to flee Poland before pursuing a career in professional boxing. I can see it now, as the screen fades in to a hazy smoke-filled disco in Wloclawek, Poland. The disco ball inside the venue is revealed to the sounds of clinking glasses, laughter, and merriment. As the camera pulls out, we see a sea of Poles dancing the night away to the tune of ‘Funky Town’. Just then, poor drunken Piotr Bialostocki bumps into a giant of a man, equally inebriated. Perturbed, Bialostocki demands that the bigger man move out of his way, and when he refuses, he challenges the larger man to a fight. Little does he realize, the enormous figure before him is none-other than Andrew Golota, winner of the 1988 Bronze medal at the Seoul Olympics. Bad move for Piotr.

After the altercation, a weary black-eyed Bialostocki is left dazed and confused, wearing nothing but his BVD’s and a single shoe. This was because Golota and a few of his buddies had removed the rest of his wardrobe and duly deposited it in a trash can outside. The incident resulted in assault and robbery charges against Golota which carried a penalty of up to five years in prison. Humiliated by the ordeal, Bialostocki raises to his feet as we cut to an opening credit montage sequence which shows the Undisputed Champion of Barroom Brawling flee from Poland.

This is only the beginning. His bizarre and unpredictable nature seemed to follow him everywhere, especially inside the squared circle.

In a 1995 bout with Samson Po’uha, Golota inexplicably resorted to vampirism, when a barrage of Po’uha punches caused Golota to dig his fangs into the neck of his unsuspecting foe. In between rounds, Golota allegedly told his trainer, “I had to bite the motherf@#ker!”. A year later, on HBO’s “Night of the Young Heavyweights”, Golota would use his head like a battering ram during a bout he was clearly winning with Doc Nicholson. It was one of the most blatant and vicious head butts I have ever witnessed. During the course of that same year, Golota was twice disqualified for delivering repeated low blows in contests against Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe. Repeated fouls by Golota at the end of their first fight caused retaliatory measures from Bowe’s corner which triggered the infamous riot at Madison Square Garden.

In 1997, Golota was escorted to his championship fight by Atlantic City police under mysterious circumstances, before being bludgeoned by Lewis in a mere 95 seconds. Two years later, he built a seemingly insurmountable lead against top rated contender Michael Grant, only to quit in the 10th round after being floored by a bombardment of punches. A year later, he would quit after just two rounds against the legendary Mike Tyson. It was one of the saddest and most unfortunate incidents the sport had ever witnessed, as Golota was doused with debris from angry fans. A few years later, Golota made a successful comeback bid in which he found himself on the short end of the stick in two extremely controversial decisions in title fights against Chris Byrd and John Ruiz.

As unusual as his antics were inside the ring, they were equally bizarre outside the ring. In 2002, Golota was arrested in Juliet, Illinois for impersonating a police officer following a routine traffic stop. In 2006, he was hit with illegal weapons charges and was alleged to have sexually assaulted a woman in his home. Additionally, he had a notorious driving record and several accidents over the years, one of which forever hindered his best asset inside the ring, his jab. He was sued several times for automobile accidents, and he once sued his own doctor over an improper injection of lidocaine administered prior to his fight with Lennox Lewis.

In the midst of all this chaos and craziness, it is often easy for observers to overlook the fact that Golota was an outstanding prize fighter. He was amazingly talented, possessed really good power, and had deceptively fast hands for such a big man. He was living proof that it takes more than talent to succeed in a difficult sport like boxing. In an odd twist of fate, as his physical skills began deteriorating with age, his mental stability began improving. The crux of this transformation happened in Golota’s swan song fight, just over a year ago, against fellow Chicago-based pugilist, Mike Mollo.

Golota looked old and slow against Mollo—a shell of his former self. Physically, he was no longer the same fighter who twice dominated Riddick Bowe. Against Bowe, Golota was a talented fighter with an A-level skill set, but mentally, he did not have the heart and courage to see things through. His entire career from that point onward was one of redemption—one to prove he had the mental make-up of a prize fighter. Against Mollo, he ultimately got that redemption, because despite lacking the physical skills that once made him one of the most dangerous heavyweights on the planet, he had finally found himself. With his eye completely shut closed for most of the fight, Golota dug down deep and for the first time in his career, he showed heart and courage in overcoming adversity.

Sure, Golota would go on to fight later that year in a forgettable performance against Ray Austin which saw him get injured. In that respect, it is a shame that he did not retire immediately after the Mollo fight to provide the story-book ending for our blockbuster movie in the making. Regardless, that would be a fitting point to end our script about the life story of the enigmatic Andrew Golota—with his eye swollen shut, and his hands raised in victory, we fade to black and so ends our story—which is a hell of a lot better than how The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ended!

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Article posted on 06.02.2009

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