The making of Iron Mike: Who trained Mike Tyson?

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Cus D'Amato and Mike Tyson
Anwesha Nag
Modified 12 Jan 2021

Mike Tyson was trained by Cus D'Amato from an early age, who later on became his legal guardian as well.

After going through a rough childhood involving many juvenile arrests, Cus D'Amato became the much-needed influence in Mike Tyson's life. He was not just a coach, but a mentor and father-figure as well. It was Cus D'Amato who trained Mike Tyson from the ground up and made him the boxer who would go on to become the youngest heavyweight champion.

Who was Cus D'Amato?

Cus D'Amato, full name Constantine D'Amato, had a brief career as an amateur boxer. However, he could not get a license to become a professional competitor because of an eye injury that he had suffered in a street fight.

Becoming a boxing manager, Cus D'Amato handled the careers of legends Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres before meeting Mike Tyson. After the career of those two ended, Cus D'Amato opened Catskill Boxing Club and worked more or less in obscurity. This is the gym where he initially trained a teenage Mike Tyson, whom he met when the latter was only 11 or 12 years old.

How did Mike Tyson meet Cus D'Amato?

While at Tryon School for Boys in Johnstown, Mike Tyson was discovered by former boxer and juvenile detention center counselor, Bobby Stewart. He noticed Tyson's abilities and introduced him to Cus D'Amato after a few months of training. The rest, as they say, is history.

Mike Tyson wrote about him and their meeting extensively in his book Iron Ambition: My Life with Cus D'Amato. He talked about the first time he met D'Amato at his gym and how the veteran trained seemed emotionless to him.

"Inside it was old and musky and there was a small ring. There were also a lot of weather-beaten newspaper clips on the wall. There were a few older white guys there along with a younger guy named Teddy Atlas who was assisting Cus. I was introduced to Cus and in a second I could see that he was totally in control of everything there. He just sucked up all the air in the room. Shook my hand and there wasn’t a trace of a smile on his face. He showed no emotions."

Mike Tyson on Cus D'Amato

Mike Tyson also said in the book that Cus D'Amato had predicted he would be the youngest heavyweight champion within ten minutes of watching him spar.

"I don’t really understand how it all happened. How did Cus D’Amato, this legendary boxing manager and trainer who was in exile in upstate New York, watch me spar for less than ten minutes when I was thirteen years old and predict that I would be the youngest heavyweight champ ever?"
"Cus was one of the most unique men ever to walk the planet. He touched the lives of so many people and helped them become a better version of themselves. He took the weak and made them strong." said Tyson

After Mike Tyson's mother passed away when he was 16, Cus D'Amato adopted him as his own ward. D'Amato passed away in November, 1985.

Published 12 Jan 2021
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