Artur Binkowski: From sparring Lennox Lewis and fighting at the Olympics to rough sleeping in Warsaw
Artur Binkowski is a former heavyweight boxer who lived his Olympic dream and even sparred with the great Lennox Lewis. Today, the 48-year-old is sleeping rough on the streets of Warsaw.
The Polish/Canadian fighter, who became known as Binio, arrived in Canada with his parents as a 13-year-old.
Boxing quickly entered his life and just six years after arriving on the North American continent, he became a junior national champion.
At the age of 21, Binkowski was getting ready for the 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney and even had the opportunity to spar with three-time world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis during preparations for the Games.
Binio ended up losing in the quarter-finals of the tournament following a defeat to eventual bronze medalist Rustam Saidov. Britain's Audley Harrison went on to claim the gold medal in Sydney.
Following his early exit in Australia, Binkowski turned professional and amassed an impressive 14-0-2 record in his first four years.
His tenth fight was certainly memorable as he knocked out Ed Krasnici in the second round to claim the Illinois heavyweight championship.
Binio endured his first defeat in June 2005 when ending up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision against Canadian boxer Patrice L'Heureux.
Two years later, Binkowski produced arguably his greatest performance. By the end of the first round against 23-year-old Raphael Butler, Binio hit the deck on three occasions.
By the time the eighth and final round came into view, the Pole was behind on the scorecard and needed to pull off something special. Binkowski certainly delivered as he knocked his opponent out with just 37 seconds remaining.
The boxer also hit the big screen, playing the role of John 'Corn' Griffin in the movie Cinderella Man, which featured actor Russell Crowe.
Binio finished his pro career in 2014 following a run of four straight defeats, giving him a record of 16-5-3.
While his in-ring battles came to an end, Binkowski found a far more challenging fight in his own personal life.
Following a divorce with his wife Agata, the ex-fighter lost custody of his two sons. Binkowski would attempt to see his kids, sometimes turning up outside of their school in order to try and make contact. It wasn't long before his attempts to see his own children led to an 11-month prison sentence.
Upon his release, Binio left Canada and travelled back to Poland in order to avoid getting himself into more trouble with the law.
The 48-year-old arrived in Poland five weeks ago, and there was no reason to believe he would end up on the streets.
However, just two weeks into his stay, Binkowski's bank card expired.
The Pole's bank is based in Canada and does not have a branch in the Eastern European country. Binio is trying to get around the issue with the Canadian embassy.
He told Polish news outlet Super Express: "I have money saved up. I also get monthly Olympic paycheques in Canadian dollars. My card expired, but because the bank doesn't operate in Poland, the embassy has a problem in sorting out a new one.
"Thanks to this, I have experiences with the poorest people in Warsaw. A lot of Poles have great wealth. I can see what kind of cars they drive around in, how they have fun. There's also those who are really poor."
Binio takes advantage of free meals from a local church and sleeps under Warsaw's infamous Culture Palace.
"I believe you will find the most positive people in places like this, in these conditions."
He added: "Don't worry about me, I have everything here. The White Eagle is not giving up."
The article Artur Binkowski: From sparring Lennox Lewis and fighting at the Olympics to rough sleeping in Warsaw appeared first on Planetsport.com.