Mixed martial arts stands out from other sports due to the prevailing element of the show. That is why pop-MMA naturally appeared, but in boxing the same process proceeds much more slowly. When in the UFC the trash talk already met in every second fight, the boxers arranged conflicts in exceptional cases. But if the athletes don’t put on a show for the fans, there will be a fan who will take on this mission. That was Charlie Zelenoff, the Internet hero of the 2010s, who turned 34 on July 27.
An American with Russian roots has watched boxing on TV since childhood. In the absence of a full-fledged martial arts background, Charlie severely provoked legendary boxers, and Zelenoff even pulled them into sparring sessions that never ended well for the guy.
Photo: from the personal archive of Charlie Zelenoff
However, Charlie lives in a world where he is the greatest boxer in history, regardless of weight class. In social networks, his nickname is P4P GOAT, and in the profile description, a record of 331-0 is indicated. It also says that he is the undisputed champion of three organizations, the most paid fighter in the world and stronger than prime Tyson. To prove it, Charlie’s YouTube channel regularly featured videos of him offering sparring sessions to people in the gym and declaring himself the winner after the first punch. According to several sources, one of Zelenoff’s boxing nicknames is Pride of Russia. There is one more thing – Z-Money.
Charlie was first talked about in 2011 when he challenged Floyd Mayweather Jr. Zelenoff promised to knock out the legend in 20 seconds. Despite the strong statement, no one paid attention to the Russian American – then he figured out how to get to the father of the great boxer.
Zelenoff came to the gym where Mayweather Sr. is training. Charlie insulted the venerable grandfather, and then suddenly attacked him with his fists. Floyd Sr. did not expect such meanness, but quickly came to his senses and took Zelenoff not even to a boxing school, but to a nursery. The video, in which a 61-year-old pensioner beats a young and impudent troll, has gained millions of views on YouTube – Charlie achieved the main goal.
This pitiful performance made the Russian American more popular among journalists. A couple of years later, he found an interesting new target – the then undefeated heavyweight Deontay Wilder. Zelenoff recorded videos where he insulted Deontay and his family, tweeted nasty things, and tagged the Bronze Bomber.
The boxer ignored Charlie, and it would be strange to do otherwise when there is about 30 kg of difference in weight between them and a giant gap in the class. But the troll did not calm down: he got Wilder’s phone and voiced all the insults to him personally. Deontay did not want to react to the last, but could not stand it when Zelenoff announced that he would seal his daughter’s mouth with tape.
Wilder and Zelenoff agreed to meet at a gym in Los Angeles, where Deontay flew in specifically to spar with the troll. Before the fight, the boxer forced Charlie to sign a waiver of claims in case of severe bodily harm. At the beginning of the sparring, Zelenoff threw one hook, after which he began to run from Wilder all over the hall. The game of catch-up did not save Charlie – Deontay quickly knocked him down, after which he hit several more times. It is terrible to imagine what could have happened to Zelenoff if Wilder had not been restrained by members of his own team.
It was reckless of Wilder to hit a weak freak, but the sparring video made him hugely popular. As well as Charlie Zelenoff, who became the subject of discussion in all possible shows. Zelenoff surprised journalists with impudence when he claimed that he did not lose sparring with Mayweather Sr. and Wilder, but quite the opposite. The guy just ignored the video evidence.
Zelenoff was hated by the entire boxing world. For insulting boxers, he was hunted down and beaten on the street, and Mike Tyson’s son Miguel gave him the hardest sparring in his life – first he forced him to run away from the ring, and then beat him according to MMA rules and almost strangled him.
All the challenges and sparring from Zelenoff are a real farce, but he did have one duel at the professional level in 2008 in the Texas town of Paris. Charlie’s opponent was Andrew Hartley, and the fight ended in a disqualification – the referee awarded the Russian American a defeat because he was constantly running away from the opponent. This fight perfectly illustrates the real level of Zelenoff, who was not able to fight back an incredibly weak boxer – Hartley ended his career with two wins and 28 losses (26 by knockout).
Photo: from the personal archive of Charlie Zelenoff
There has been no news from Zelenoff lately. He does not update his YouTube channel or social media, and was last in the news in 2021 when Kim Kardashian filed a stalking injunction against him after he posted videos taken outside her home, whose location was considered a secret.
In the videos, Zelenoff admitted that he wanted to enter into a relationship with Kim, and was upset that he could not do this. He also shared what he thinks about breaking into the Kardashian house. No one has fully understood how much Charlie’s behavior is related to his mental health. But we must admit that it is unlikely that a completely balanced person will call Deontay Wilder with threats, and even more so – get up with him after that in sparring. And the story with the Kardashians probably gave the final answer to this question.