(SP) – Saying there was “never a single time” that his supposed bottle of pop was not actually filled with alcohol, longtime boxer Soda Popinski admitted for the first time today that he battled alcoholism throughout his career.
“I was lying to myself the whole time,” said Popinski. “I thought that if I pretended I was drinking soda and made my whole image around it, no one would catch on to what I was really drinking. But they knew. Everyone knew. Even kids were smart enough to realize there wasn’t pop in that bottle.”
Popinski was an accomplished heavyweight from the former Soviet Union, boasting a 33-2 record with 24 KOs, along with a muscled frame and impossibly small waist for a 237-pound athlete. His career peaked in the late 1980s and early ’90s on the Punch-Out!!! circuit. But he now says he could have gone much farther in the sport if he wasn’t drinking.
“I think I could have given Tyson a real run for best in the world,” says Popinski, sipping a seltzer water in his Moscow apartment. “But I never gave myself a chance because of the alcohol. I never even beat Macho Man. And, of course, it all came to a head when I lost to Little Mac. I outweighed by a hundred pounds and was well over a foot taller. But I still lost. That was rock bottom.”
Popinski, who was born Vodka Drunkinski, doesn’t blame his background for how his life played out.
“I made my own choices,” he said. “I could have done anything. I knew the code: 007-373-5963. Instead I chose the bottle.”