Cus D'Amato Profile
|Born||Jan 17, 1908|
|Died||Nov 04, 1985|
|Birthplace||New York, USA|
|Gym||Catskill Boxing Gym|
D'Amato is a celebrated figure within the boxing fraternity who was not only seen as a trainer and manager to "Iron" Mike but also as a father figure.
Constantine D'Amato was an American trainer and manager to some of boxing's greatest fighters in "Iron" Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres. D'Amato has received critical acclaim for his work in the sport and is regarded as one of the greatest trainers of all time. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame by Tyson in 1995.
The trainer was born into an Italian-American family in New York and grew up as one of five brothers in his family. D'Amato initially learned how to fight on the streets, much like Freddie Roach before having a short and brief boxing career at featherweight and lightweight and then opening his own boxing club called Gramercy Gym in 1939.
D'Amato began learning his trade by working with Patterson after spotting his Olympic success at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. Working together, the 'Gentleman of Boxing' went on to become world heavyweight champion in 1956.
Patterson reigned as world champion until his defeat to Sonny Liston in 1962. D'Amato is best known for training Tyson - one of the most iconic heavyweight fighters in the history of the division.
Moving to Catskill Gym, D'Amato trained Tyson until he passed away from pneumonia in November 1985. The fighter won his first world championship the following year after beating Trevor Berbick, dedicating his belt to his 'father figure' D'Amato.
Tyson's hugely successful, and controversial career, ended in 2005 following back-to-back defeats. He had a record of 50-6 (44 KOs) in a career that spanned three decades. "Iron" Mike has regularly said that he owes much of his success to the late D'Amato.
The New Yorker was heavily influential in the creation of the peek-a-boo fighting style. His influence was obvious on all of his fighters with all of them performing the technique to their advantage in fights.
The style involves defensive positioning where the hands are kept close to the face and the arms are folded to the torso. It aims to provide extra protection from an opponent's punch whilst also landing a jab to the opponent's face easier.
Although the style was largely successful for D'Amato's fighters, it was criticised by others in the sport who believed that an effective attack could not be launched from it.
Moving gyms and success as trainer
One of the first fighters D'Amato trained was Rocky Marciano at Gramercy Gym. Having helped nurture his technique ahead of his beginning life in the professional ranks, D'Amato found out Marciano had been working with another manager who had been associated with the Italian mafia.
Having received abusive threats and threatening letters, D'Amato was forced to sell his gym for $1 and was forced to move to Cakstill to help protect himself and his stable. Not only was D'Amato a trainer, he was also a psychologist and instilled a winning mentality for his fighters.
D'Amato trained Patterson, who originally fought as a middleweight and won the American Amateur Championship and the New York Golden Gloves Championship in amateur ranks.
After beginning his professional career at light heavyweight, Patterson moved up to heavyweight and overcame Archie Moore to win the NBA, Ring and lineal titles in 1956 at the age of 21. In doing so, he became the first Olympic gold-medalist to win a heavyweight world title.
D'Amato also trained Puerto Rican star Torres, who had previously won amateur titles while in the American Army. Torres beat Willie Pastrano in 1965 at Madison Square Garden to become light heavyweight world champion and the first Latin American to do so.
The fighter successfully defended his title three times before losing to Nigerian-born Dick Tiger in 1966. D'Amato also briefly worked with former basketball player Wilt Chamberlain, who considered entering the sport.
D'Amato's most notable fighter is Tyson, who fought in the heavyweight division from 1985 to 2005. Tyson was a young sensation in the sport and quickly encapsulated a big following by knocking out 26 of his first 28 opponents. His knockout record is one of the best the division has ever seen and the brutality of his knockouts will never be forgotten.
Close relationship with Mike Tyson
He met Tyson at the age of 13 and allowed him to live at his home after finding out he was getting into street fights, committing robberies and spending time behind bars.
D'Amato began to teach Tyson how to transfer his aggression on the streets in the ring and educated him on previous boxing greats whilst also forcing him to read the biography of Alexander the Great. Following the death of Tyson's mother when he was 16, D'Amato became his legal guardian, trainer and manager.
After guiding Tyson through a successful amateur career alongside Teddy Atlas, the trainer cornered Tyson in his first professional fight against Hector Mercedes in March 1985 at the age of 19. He won via a first-round TKO, which was clearly a sign of things to come.
Tyson had 15 fights in his first year as a professional and won all of them convincingly. Following D'Amato's unexpected death in November 1985, Kevin Rooney - a student of D'Amato - took over the reins as Tyson's trainer.
The fighter's idol was Muhammad Ali, whom he got the chance to emulate by becoming world heavyweight champion in 1986.
Aged just 20, Tyson still remains the youngest fighter ever to win a world title. Rooney remained as his trainer until 1988. During that time, Tyson beat James Smith to add the WBA belt to his name before defeating Tony Tucker to also add the IBF belt to his mantle piece.
Victories over the likes of Tyrell Biggs and Larry Holmes followed - the latter being a significant win for Tyson, who promised Ali he would gain revenge for him at the age of 14. He knocked Holmes out inside four rounds in 1988. His trainer Rooney was later fired by Tyson as a result of promoter Don King's advice.
D'Amato's influence on Tyson, both as a person and as a fighter, cannot be understated. He was not just a trainer but someone that Tyson looked up to as a father. Since D'Amato's death, the boxer has said that he was his mentor and taught him pretty much everything about the sport.
Tyson's peek-a-boo style was learned mainly from D'Amato, which he used to his advantage by unleashing vicious attacks on his opponents from the defensive hand position. The impact of Tyson's uppercuts in his prime was often enough to blow his opponents away.
The trainer gave Tyson confidence to transfer the skills learnt in training to professional fights, which helped Tyson remain undefeated until 1990. The reliance was mutual as D'Amato said that if it wasn't for Tyson he probably wouldn't have lived for as long as he did.
After one of the biggest upsets in boxing history to James "Buster" Douglas in 1990, "Iron" Mike regained the WBC heavyweight title after defeating Frank Bruno via TKO and fought the likes of Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield in the latter stages of his career.
His legacy is one which continues to be celebrated within the boxing fraternity. D'Amato was a mentor for Atlas during his time in the sport and worked alongside him with Tyson until an alteration saw him dismissed.
Atlas put a handgun to Tyson's head after accusing the former heavyweight champion of inappropriately touching his nephew. Tyson later claimed he touched her buttocks.
Since leaving D'Amato's gym, Atlas has had a successful career in the sport, leading Michael Moorer to victory over Holyfield via majority decision in 1994 to win the WBA and IBF world titles. The fight is remembered with Atlas giving a motivational talk to Moorer in his corner.
He has since trained Russian heavyweight Alexander Povetkin who won the regular WBA belt in 2011 and cornered Timothy Bradley against Manny Pacquiao in 2016. D'Amato's legacy also continued with Rooney, who trained Tyson from 1985 to 1988.
Rooney had continued to develop Tyson's rise before he was fired following the fighter's victory over Michael Spinks. Rooney remains a trainer and works with young fighters in Catskill, New York, the same gym that he trained under D'Amato.
Awards, accomplishments and film
In honour of D'Amato, the Boxing Writers' Association of America created the Cus D'Amato Memorial Award - alternatively known as the Boxing Writers' America Manager of the Year award.
D'Amato has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame having made three world champions in Patterson, Torres and Tyson.
In the 1995 movie Tyson, the trainer was portrayed by George C. Scott which looks into the life of Tyson. 'Confusing the Enemy' is a biographical novel which illustrates the trainer's story, from his upbringing in New York to his days as a renowned trainer. 'Knockout: The Cus D'Amato Story' is a screenplay based on his life.
It was written by Dianna Lefas with the help of those who were trained by D'Amato himself as well as Rooney. The trainer has part of a road named after him in New York, on 14th Street where his Gramercy Gym was originally located.
Cus D'Amato News
- May 27, 2020
- Mar 25, 2020