As an outsider looking into Vinny Pazienza’s life it is hard to believe that one man could experience such a turbulent journey. From winning world titles to being told that he will never walk again; Paz (which his name is now legally changed to) has been through it all. With his private life also a frenzy of gambling and an infatuation with women in the adult film industry, Vinny Pazienza did not give himself a quiet life. Former boxing promoter Kellie Maloney remembers Paz at his London fight against Herol Bomber Graham in 1997, reflecting on him as “not a man for half measures”. Supported further by his nickname as the ‘Pazmanian devil’.
With the release of his biopic Bleed For This in cinemas December 2nd, audiences are now able to see the remarkable come back he made by defying all odds to box again. An A-list cast of Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal, Ted Levine and Miles Teller starring as Vinny highlights the work that has gone into depicting Pazienza’s crazy life. Not to mention that legendary director Martin Scorsese executively produced the blockbuster. Bleed For This is based on the incredible true story of Vinny Pazienza, one of few American boxers to hold world titles in three different weight categories, who suffered a near-fatal car accident at the peak of his career. Told he would never walk again, Vinny spent months recovering in a neck brace until, against doctors’ orders and without their knowledge, he returned to the gym. With the support of trainer Kevin Rooney, “The Pazmanian Devil” made a triumphant return to the ring just over a year later.
Rhode Island born Vinny came into this world December 16th 1962. After starting his boxing career at a young age Paz quickly established himself as one of the most exciting and charismatic boxers of all time. Throughout the success of his boxing career Pazienza also lived a life of excess outside of the ring. As he risked gambling away his fortune, became known for his love of women in the adult film industry and lost $300,000 in a Rhode Island banking scandal, Paz never hid away from the limelight. Even today he is known as a public speaker, revealing his rollercoaster career and motivating others to fight for what their goals. It is safe to say that Vinny Pazienza has stood out amongst all others in every aspect of his life.
Paz’s professional boxing career began at the young age of 21 in 1983. Few young fighters could replicate his success at the box office, as audiences would flood arena’s to see this charismatic young man with bundles of potential. Over his career Paz won five world titles in the lightweight, junior middleweight and super middleweight division. In 60 professional fights Vinny won 50 times, with 30 of those opponents defeated by knock out. Even after taking breaks in his career after defeat, Paz showed himself as someone not to be forgotten about by continuously returning to defend his title. Throughout the struggle of his career, Vinny highlights that boxing is his true passion by saying, “I only ever knew how to fight and I was good at it”.
The Miracle Comeback
In the peak of his career tragedy struck for Pazienza after being involved in a horrific car accident. The serious collision left Vinny with three shattered vertebrae’s in his neck, a dislocated thigh and the prospect of never walking again; let alone boxing. Heart-breaking news for his family, Paz was forced to stay in hospital for three months, later having a Halo screwed into his skull to support his upper body. Defying all odds and doctors instructions, he went on to train just a month after the accident, lifting weights with a metal Halo on, Paz responded to doctors orders with, ‘You don’t understand what kinda man I am’. Miraculously, just 13 months after he was told he would never walk without support, Vinny entered the ring and defeated super welterweight champion Luis Santana. Revealing that Vinny Pazienza is a true champion at heart.
Bleed For This is in cinemas December 2nd