ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Who is heavyweight contender Andrew Golota?
Is he a fugitive from Poland who fled his native country after being charged with assault and battery in a barroom brawl?
Or is Golota, recently the subject of a six-page article in the Polish version of Playboy, his country's new folk hero?
Is he the anything-goes brawler who bit Samson Po'hua in the neck, head-butted Dannell Nicholson and hit Riddick Bowe below the belt often enough to be disqualified in the seventh round on July 11?
Or is Golota an underrated fighter who was giving the heavily favored Bowe a painful boxing lesson before Bowe decided to swoon and roll across the canvas in anguish?
If you answered all of the above, you are probably close to the truth.
For Golota (28-1), who has a chance to avenge his only professional loss in a rematch with Bowe at Convention Center tomorrow night, is a body of contradictions.
After Golota was attacked following the Madison Square Garden fight by members of Bowe's entourage, Polish newspapers referred to him as Scigany, the fugitive. But he has since returned to Warsaw, where he received a hero's welcome, and criminal charges were dropped.
He said he did not know how his homecoming might go.
"When we got to the Polish border, a policeman came out of his gate with a rifle," Golota recalled. "I thought maybe he was going to arrest me. Instead, he just wanted my autograph."
Against Bowe, Golota proved he was more than just the latest overblown contender. He out-performed the former heavyweight champion in every category.
But he offered no legitimate excuse for the repeated low blows that cost him the fight. "The low blows weren't intentional," he said. "It just happened."
Golota's corner men are trying to see it does not happen again, giving him new angles in delivering body punches.
Said trainer Lou Duva: "I've spoken to Andrew in Polish, Spanish, Italian and English. Hopefully, he's gotten the message. But I don't want to take away his natural aggression. He's been fighting for survival all his life."
Born in Warsaw in 1968, Golota came from a humble background. His parents divorced when he was 3, and he was raised by an uncle and an aunt in an impoverished neighborhood.
Oversized and inarticulate as a youngster, he found himself engaged in countless schoolyard brawls until age 12, when his Uncle Zdzisla steered him to the Legia boxing gym, which operated like a boot camp.
He rapidly developed into an outstanding amateur boxer, posting an 111-10 record, including a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympic Games.
The next year, his participation at an international boxing meet in Chicago led to Golota's meeting his future wife, Mariola, and a desire to remain in America.
Dick Trindle, a U.S. boxing official, persuaded Golota to meet trainer Bob O'Donnell, who operated a Chicago gym.
Golota turned professional in 1992 and became an immediate hit with the Polish population in Chicago, using his raw power to score a succession of quick knockouts. The late promoter Dan Duva and his father, Lou, took notice, and soon had him fighting under the banner of Main Events.
"When I first saw him in the Olympics," recalled Lou Duva, "he just looked big and mean with flashes of talent. But he's really learned to box the past few years, and now I'm kind of amazed at what a good athlete he is."
Who: Riddick Bowe (39-1, 32 KOs), Fort Washington, Md., vs. Andrew Golota (28-1, 25 KOs), Chicago, heavyweights, 10-round rematch
Also: Ray Mercer (23-4-1, 16 KOs), Augusta, Ga., vs. Tim Witherspoon ((45-4, 30 KOs), Philadelphia, heavyweights, 10 rounds
Where: Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J.
When: Tomorrow night. First preliminary bout starts at 7
TV: Pay-per-view telecast begins 9 p.m. Check local cable operators for cost.
$ Tickets: $25 to $500
Pub Date: 12/13/96