Date of Birth: December 16, 1962
In 1991, just one month after winning the junior middleweight world title, Rhode Island native and successful boxer Vinny Pazienza was forced to give up the title after breaking his neck in a serious car accident. Nicknamed "The Pazmanian Devil," the boxer was told by doctors that he might never walk, let alone fight, ever again. To support his neck and to help prevent permanent injury, he had to wear a medical device called a Halo — a circular metal brace that is screwed into your skull in four spots and then propped up with four metal rods.
During the three months he had the halo in his skull, Vinny stubbornly defied doctors’ orders. He had been maintaining a workout regime by lifting weights and getting back the strength he lost while lying in a hospital bed — much to the concern of his parents.
In only 13 months after the devastating accident that broke his neck, Vinny achieved his goal and returned to the ring. Not only did he return, but in a 10-round decision, he beat opponent and future WBC World Jr. Middleweight Champion Luis Santana.
From losing everything upon reaching a pinnacle of boxing, to defying common sense and medical professionals to return to the ring, his victory against Luis for the championship belt is considered to be the greatest comeback in all of boxing history. Vinny then went on to defeat even more top contenders, and ended up winning five world titles in total at lightweight, junior middleweight, and super middleweight.
His inspirational true story was made into a feature film by director Ben Younger. Titled Bleed for This, it stars American actor Miles Teller as Vinny, Aaron Eckhart as his coach, and Katey Sagal and Ciarán Hinds as his parents. The film had its world premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016.