Mike Tyson's New Book Is A Memorial To The Man Who Made Him A Champion : NPR
Reupload* An insightful look into the relationship between mentor and menace. Mike Tyson was a teenager when Constantine D'Amato passed disguise and Mike Tyson trusted Don King like he did Cus and that was one. MIke Tyson: 'Without Cus D'Amato I might be living in some crummy apartment building' . Trust me. I don't fight It is a searingly self-critical memoir of his love- hate relationship with legendary boxing trainer Cus D'Amato. Mike Tyson shares some intimate moments about Cus D'amato and discusses his first mentor and the first man whom he ever trusted.
Yet Tyson looks most like a year-old man trying hard to understand his tumultuous life. He was once a frightened little boy, beaten often by his mother in a condemned building in Brownsville, Brooklyn, who turned himself into the self-proclaimed baddest man on the planet. Tyson made and then lost almost a billion dollars as the last great undisputed heavyweight champion of the world whose controlled fury in the ring was eventually disfigured by madness and violence.
He has had distressing problems with women, been to jail and then imprisoned even more tightly by alcohol and drug addiction. Now, however, Tyson taps me gently on the arm. I can't do nothing no more. He is not spinning a yarn here. Tyson, instead, is remembering his four-year-old daughter, Exodus, who died during a tragic accident in His eyes fill with tears.Teddy Atlas on relationship with Mike Tyson. - Sports Illustrated
I'd still be that violent schmuck because that's all I once knew — how to hurt people. I used to do all that stuff and I never cared about the repercussions. But I've surrendered now. He seems amazed he's still here, in one middle-aged piece. I've been clean five months. I know guys who don't take drugs for 20 years but they still don't live a sober life. They're bad, they're manipulative, they're not conscious of other people's feelings.
A sober lifestyle needs a sober consciousness. But, still, the concept of happiness is fleeting. I read this book, The History of Happiness, and they go from Homer to Kennedy to Martin Luther King and everybody has a different definition of happiness. Some people believe happiness is overcoming adversity or getting out of a bad situation.
Abstaining from sex and then having sex is happiness to someone else. Jacob Kepler for the Guardian Has Tyson worked out his own definition of happiness? You know any self-inventory I do tells me the same thing. I look back at the life I once had and see that I didn't have an emotional problem. I had a morality problem. I was without any morals. Tyson relives one of his bleakest memories at the age of seven. The kids called me 'Little Fairy Boy'.
Once, my mother was fighting with this guy, Eddie, and it's barbaric. Eddie knocked out her gold tooth and me and Denise [his sister] are screaming.
Mike Tyson: The Panic, the Slip, and the Counter | FIGHTLAND
But my mother's real slick. She puts on a pot of boiling water. He was screaming, his back and face covered in blisters. We put him on the floor. My sister takes a lighter and sterilises a needle and then, one by one, she bursts the blisters. He gave his mother's burnt lover a quarter to comfort him. Eddie rose to his feet and trudged to the corner store to buy alcohol for Tyson's mother.
That's why I was so sexually dysfunctional. I would take women very seriously. As I tried to explain in the book I didn't grow up around frightened women. If you sleep they might kill you — especially if you disrespected them.
I remember my mother — boom! It was a violent household. I still think of being in the corner getting beaten by my mother. Back then it was like 'Holy Moly! But even though people think of me as 'Mike Tyson', this scary guy, I still have that fear today. That's what happens when you're a traumatised kid. Unlike Iron Mike, Rodney went into medicine and he's a surgical assistant at a hospital in California. Tyson seems stunned by his brother's achievements.
But my brother never talks about that. It must affect him. He said to me last time we spoke: He's just so far away from that world. He's taken bullets out of some of my friends. He's stitched them up and they've said: It's the really sad part about my family. We don't have a close connection. Too many demons, too much pain. Even when I started doing well in boxing and people were writing about me she thought I was insane.
She must have wondered: The sentimental version paints him as a saintly figure, a wise old trainer who rescued Tyson from juvenile prison and used boxing to instil discipline and purpose into his wayward life. But, as Tyson suggests, "there wasn't a happy muscle in his face". Tyson nods at the memory. Cus wanted to be the guy everyone spoke about. You know it's crazy. If he were alive I'd never say these things. I would've made him out to be a saint because otherwise he would have killed me!
The story of how Mike Tyson was discovered by Cus D'Amato at age 12
I would've been so afraid and intimidated by Cus. The previous day, Tyson had listened to an old recording of his trainer praising him but worrying, just before his death inthat "he likes girls too much". I don't know if that was good advice at such a young age. Another time, when I felt no girl would ever like me, he came in with a baseball bat. He told me I'd need it to beat the women off me.
The only morality I knew was to win, to conquer, to be the best. One of Frazier's absolute best performances as he battles Muhammad Ali. Frazier's head movement, while containing slight slips from side to side, almost invariably involved bending forward at the waist. Not only is it difficult to continue advancing while bending forward in this manner, it also makes a fighter tremendously susceptible to the uppercut. When George Foreman started smashing Joe Frazier with his thudding right uppercut, Frazier was left with a tough call.
He couldn't stop bending at the waist, that was all he knew how to do, but if he kept doing it he would keep being met by uppercuts. The genius of D'amato's movement was that he had his boxers slipping so deep that they were bending over almost sideways in many instances. Where Frazier moved up and down with a little deviation off of the centerline each way, D'amato's boys were well off to one side or the other as they ducked.
Any one slip done by Tyson was a hybrid between a deep slip to the side and a vertical change of level. Consequently Tyson's slips could evade every punch in the boxing arsenal.
Here Tyson performs seemingly a slip to his right side, but it is deep enough that a left hook goes clean over the top of him. A little exaggerated show-boating. Notice that Tyson is well off line when the uppercut comes through though, rather than desperately trying to stand up in answer to it as Frazier often had to do. So much of Tyson's training with D'amato was spent on being elusive, difficult to hit, not simply responding to his opponent's blows.
One particular trademark of D'amato's peek-a-boo style was the especially deep inside slip. An inside slip is where one slips to the inside of the opponent's jab. Ordinarily it is much smarter to slip to the outside of the opponent's jab the elbow side, to your right if you are fighting against an orthodox fighter because he has no follow ups on that side.
Mike Tyson and His Beloved Trainer
If you slip to the inside you are placing your head directly in front of the opponent's right hand. Consequently fighters have either gone to it only occasionally—when they feel their opponent is jabbing without intention to throw the right—or used the cross guard to make it safer as Archie Moore did.
The D'amato method was to slip to the inside of the jab but not to do it by turning the trunk and bending slightly forward—the classical slip—instead bending down deep to the left side, so that the fighter's head was carried well below where the opponent's right straight could come through.
When you hear old D'amato students talk about head movement, they often stress that it is throwing the hips out to the right more than it is leaning down to the left. By slipping to the inside of his opponents' jabs, Tyson put himself in perfect position to jump in with his counter punches.
Tyson was good on the inside, but it was never really where he was best. Guys lasted surprisingly long by simply tying him up. Even a thirty-eight year old Larry Holmes tied Tyson up relatively easily through the first three rounds, and only really got caught when he began to tire. Most heavyweights don't understand the tie ups especially well, but Holmes had been through dozens of rounds of sparring with Muhammad Ali so he knew how to hold.
Tyson had techniques there, we could talk for hours about Tyson's double ups, the famous Tyson shift, or his work from the southpaw stance, but unarguably his best moments came as he bridged that distance, on the way in as his opponents panic jabbed at him. The pressure, the slip and the counter were the essence of Tyson. Where traditionally the jab is a long, lancing, relatively safe weapon, for D'amato's fighters all it did was present cuts of meat. The left rib cage was open for the right hook, the right jaw line was often open for a left hook due to a drooping passive hand, the right temple was wide open for the cross counter.
Tyson's finest hurting blows against his best opponents came as they opened up. Ultimately though, Tyson fell victim to his own hype. The focus was always on what a tremendous hitter Tyson was, rather than how he landed such clean blows. Tyson began to walk his opponents down where before he held back until he was invited in underneath the opponent's blows. Much of this had to do with the death of Cus D'amato himself. Much has been made of the relationship between D'amato and Tyson, but all you need know is that D'amato was the role model that Tyson was never lucky enough to have in his youth.
The frank conversations that Tyson has had on camera about his mentor do much to hammer home just how much they meant to each other. But the footage of the two men in the gym is perhaps the finest.
It's good, but it's not perfect. Maybe it was staged for whatever they were filming, but Tyson clearly cared about D'amato's opinion, and D'amato's perfectionism exhibited itself in Tyson's fights. After D'amato's death, Tyson was not the same fighter. He worked for a while with Kevin Rooney, one of D'amato's most trusted students, but eventually the two parted ways.
Even if Rooney was every bit the coach that D'amato was, the relationship was clearly not the same, and Tyson was not the same. He was getting hit more, he was throwing two punches at a time and no more.
He was fighting on the lead as a brawler, rather than on the counter as his opponents panicked.