The Story of the Boxer Vinny Paz is Incredible. Losing Millions to Gambling, Having Screws in His Skull and Dating Porn Stars.
Boxer Vinny Paz has a breathtaking story. He withstood all blows of fate, overcame gambling, and the doctors thought he'd never recover after his car accident. He returned to the ring victoriously and claimed the Champion title.
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He seemed to have it all: achievements, fame, money, and the title of a champion. However, on November 12, 1991, the life of the professional boxer, Vinny Paz, was turned upside down. On his way from the gym, he got into a car accident that almost cost him his life.
The driver of the car in which Vinny Paz was in the passenger seat collided head-on with the oncoming vehicle that fateful day and the boxing champion was lucky to have survived. He did break two cervical vertebrae and dislocated another vertebra.
The doctors' prognosis was very poor. According to them, there was a chance that Vinny Paz would never get back on his feet again. However, the boxer rebelled against fate and not only did he return to the professional ring, but he also won the Champion's belts again.
Moreover, his private life was just as wild as his career in sports. According to him, he slept with more than a thousand women and overcame his addiction to gambling, to which he lost more than $10 million. This is a fascinating story of the legendary boxer who was a devil not only in the ring but also outside of it.
"The scariest pain I've ever experienced was when they were pulling screws out of my skull." - Vinny Paz
He loved the wild style of fighting and almost died due to weightloss
Born: December 16th, 1962, Cranston (Rhode Island)
Nickname: The Pazmanian Devil
Score: 60 matches - 50 wins, 30 KOs, 10 defeats
Vinny Paz was born Vincenzo Pazienza, but had his last name changed later in life. "Pazienza was my slave name," the boxer explained the name change, adding that a lot of bad things had happened to him while he had his old last name.
He started boxing as a child. In his own words, he got into the sport after seeing the cult film Rocky. Another crucial inspiration for him was the multiple Champion Muhammad Ali, whom he saw wrestling and wished to be like him.
"I was 5 years old when I first saw him. I listened to him speak. I watched him beat his opponents. He was incredible. I knew right away that I wanted to do this and nothing else," he described how Muhammad Ali affected him. Following his example, he set out on a career as a boxer. It was also important for him that his family supported him to fulfill his dream. He bought his father the necessary equipment and was with him every step of the way.
He started his professional career as a boxer from the east coast of the USA in the early 80s and very soon built up a decent reputation. This is mainly due to his uncompromising fighting style. He eliminated one opponent after another, and about 16 months later, he could already pride himself with a string of 14 wins in a row without a single defeat. In addition, he finished the vast majority of his opponents at KO or TKO.
He became famous for his tough fighting style. On his way, he defeated several famous names, such as Joe Frazier Jr., Melvin Paul, or former Champion Harry Arroyo. "My game plan was to destroy. I went all-in in the gym. Even if you have some problems, you have to get through them. That is the philosophy of my life. Life is a fight," Vinny Paz explained his approach to wrestling and life.
Boxer, who won the IBF Lightweight Division title in 1987 and later added other titles to the collection, knew what he was talking about when he said those words. As he says, life is a fight, and it's not just about winning. When Vinny Paz was 25, his manager advised him to let go of boxing.
I had no energy at all, no strength. I was so dehydrated that I lost consciousness after the match in the ring.
This happened in 1988 after he succumbed to Roger Mayweather, the WBC champion at the time in the junior welterweight division. And not only did the boxer lose this title match, but as he admitted, he almost died due to the radical weight loss before the match.
Although he eventually met the weight limit on repeated attempts, drastic dehydration affected his performance. He lost the match and passed out right in the ring.
"I had no energy at all, no strength. I was so dehydrated that I lost consciousness after the match in the ring," said the boxer. He was immediately taken to the hospital, where he received drip in both of his arms, but his condition still remained critical.
"I don't know how to describe it. I had a feeling that I was rising and coming through these white clouds," he described the dramatic moment. It is said that no one from the team or his coaches were in the room with him, only his father and a nurse. She said to his father, "Mr. Pazienzo, we are losing your son. His heart beats only once every six to eight seconds."
At that moment, the father shook his son in the hospital bed and shouted at him, "Champion, I don't care that you've lost. Don't do this to me!" The boxer will never forget those words. "Suddenly, the clouds disappeared, and I came back down. That's the only reason I'm still here today," he said of the incident years later.
The turning point in his boxing career came when he hired Kevin Rooney as his coach. Among other things, he was the coach of the legendary Mike Tyson. On Kevin Rooney's recommendation, Vinny Paz gained weight and jumped several categories higher - to the light-middleweight division. That turned out to be the right way. In 1991, he won the WBA Champion title in a duel with the Frenchman Gilbert Del, and it seemed that life couldn't be any better.
"If I listened to the people who discouraged me, I would never become a champion. Who knows where would have been now. Maybe I'd work somewhere at a bar. If I retired after losing to Roger Mayweather, I would never win the title again," Vinny Paz described that era.
The car skidded, and I saw a truck coming at us. I grabbed the side handle at the door and held on as hard as I could.
According to the doctors, he wasn't likely to walk again after the car accident
When it looked like the boxer was on top of his game, another cruel blow of fate came along - far harder than what he had ever experienced. Just weeks after winning the championship belt, Vinny Paz and his driver were on the way from the gym when their car crashed into an oncoming vehicle.
"The car skidded, and I saw a truck coming at us. I grabbed the side handle at the door and held on as hard as I could. It occurred to me that I would never defend my title again. And then it crashed into us," the boxer described the moment immediately before the crash.
"When they pulled me out, pain shot through my whole body, from neck to bottom. I felt like my neck was on fire. I yelled at them to stop because my neck was broken," said the boxer.
He survived the accident, but the examination showed that one cervical vertebra was dislocated, and two more were broken. "The doctor came to me with a tear in his eye and said he was sorry, but I'll never box again. I told him that he was wrong and that I will stand in the ring again," said Vinny Paz.
Boxer stayed in the hospital weeks after the car accident, from where he was released with a metal structure (so-called "halo") that was bolted directly into his skull. According to the Independent, the structure was bolted to the boxer's head with four screws.
According to the doctors, the fact that he was walking was a miracle in itself. However, Vinny Paz returned to training relatively shortly after returning home, despite his family's concerns.
"I told my mother that I'm gonna come back and that I was ready to die. She started crying immediately. A month later, I was training again. I told my father and invited him to the gym. After training, he drove me home, and on the way back, he was sweating all the way through. I told him not to be afraid and that everything would be okay," the boxer recalled.
He spent several long months with the support structure bolted to his head, and he admitted he'll never forget the suffering he experienced when the doctors took it off. "The scariest pain I've ever experienced was when they were pulling screws out of my skull," he said. In addition, he deliberately refused the anesthetic, so he felt every painful turn of the screw.
The removal of the screws from the skull was processed in the scene of the film Bleed For This, which describes the boxer's story and his return to the ring.
Returning to boxing wasn't difficult just because of the pain he experienced with each movement. At first, the sparring partners were afraid to hit Vinny Paz so his cervical vertebrae wouldn't break again. That was also a problem, BBC said.
During one of such sparrings, Vinny Paz attacked his training partner for the first few rounds, who was hiding, afraid to return the punches. Eventually, however, a fierce fistfight broke out between the two of them, and when Vinny Paz saw that his neck was fine, he knew he was ready to return.
Way back to the top
And so it happened. It may sound unbelievable, but just thirteen months after Vinny Paz heard from the doctors that he might never walk again, he was in the professional ring again. He defeated Luis Santana after ten rounds in his comeback, and other winnings were shortly on the way.
In 1993, he became Champion again, knocking out Dan Sherry in the eleventh round for a IBO middleweight division belt.
His battles with rival Robert Duran, who in the title matches for the belt in the super middleweight division of the IB organization, also became memorable. However, the fighting was preceded by threats, especially from Duran. According to the BBC, he claimed, among other things, that he would "break his neck".
Vinny Paz himself did mention that he had looked up to Robert Duran before, but he started hating him for these and other aggressive words. Therefore, he wanted to return everything to him in the ring, and then some. "He was 43 years old, but he was beating hard like no one else. I felt like I was being crushed by demolition balls," Vinny Paz said of his opponent's strength. In the first retaliatory match, Paz still won unanimously for points after twelve rounds.
However, the spectacular victory was replaced by a severe defeat. This was caused in 1995 by the legendary Roy Jones Jr., a multiple champion and one of the best boxers of all time. Vinny Paz went to the ground three times in the sixth round, and the match was over.
The following year, Vinny Paz returned to the winning saddle after knocking out Dan Rosenblatt in a battle for a belt in the vacant WBU's super middleweight division.
In the late 1990s and the early New Millennium, Vinny Paz experienced both successes and failures in the ring. Particularly painful was the loss to Eric Lucas, who won the title of WBC champion in 2002. After a two-year hiatus in 2004, Vinny Paz, at the age of less than 40, entered his final match, beating his rival Tocker Pudwil after ten rounds of points.
Vinny Paz entered 60 games in total, of which he won 50 and scored a respectable 30 knockouts. During his era, he became the holder of five world titles. It was the end of an extremely wild and successful career.
Gambling, strippers and porn stars
But just as he was wilding out in the ring, he did the same outside of it. He openly admitted that he got addicted to gambling and lost more than $10 million in casinos. The famous boxer got into debt due to his addiction and had to undergo treatment.
According to ESPN, he also lost about a million dollars trading on the stock market. In addition, he was reportedly spending up to $100,000 in a single night. In 2007, Vinny Paz declared bankruptcy.
Not only did his friends help him out of his bad financial situation, but also the proceeds from Bleed For This, which describes the boxer's life. It focuses mainly on the boxer's return to the ring after his almost fatal car accident and subsequent treatment. Actor Miles Teller portrayed the boxer in the film.
In addition to spending money in casinos, Vinny Paz's wild lifestyle included lots of women. "I was better at sleeping with girls than gambling that’s for sure," he joked. "I have got no clue how many women I’ve slept with. You are probably looking at a thousand chicks," he added. "Around half were playmates, strippers and porn stars," he says.
Boxer believes that he was more invested in sex than his career at times, which could have ultimately cost him one of the titles. "I took three porn stars to the fight, which probably wasn’t a good idea," he said. One of the porn actresses he met was the famous adult movie star Jenna Jameson. She is sometimes referred to as the queen of pornography.
However, the boxer looks back at his missteps without regrets. Fails are a part of life, and Vinny Paz has repeatedly proved that he can stand up to the toughest. He was a boxer who fought in the ring just as hard as he lived outside of it - wildly. After all, he admits that himself.
"I was a wild dude. I boxed wild. I fought like a wild man. I wasn’t worried about bleeding, I just wanted to win. I did anything to win within the parameters of the game. I just did my thing," he said. Thanks to that, he became a legend and went down in history as a boxer who overcame everything that fate threw at him, only to become even stronger. In 2019, UFC President Dana White inducted him into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.
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