“Fighters are the most exposed athletes in the world. During a fight, the crowd observes every twitch and movement. Still, spectators rarely see fear in a quality fighter. ‘That,’ says [boxing trainer Cus] D’Amato, ‘is because the fighter has mastered his emotions to the extent that he can conceal and control them.’ But whatever a fighter says, the fear is there. It never goes away. He just learns to live with it. ‘And the truth is,’ D’Amato continues, ‘fear is an aspect to a fighter. It makes him move faster, be quicker and more alert. Heroes and cowards feel exactly the same fear. Heroes just react to it differently. On the morning of a fight, a boxer wakes up and says, “How can I fight? I didn’t sleep at all last night.” What he has to realize is, the other guy didn’t sleep either. Later, as the fighter walks toward the ring, his feet want to walk in the opposite direction. He’s asking himself how he got into this mess. He climbs the stairs into the ring, and it’s like going to the guillotine. Maybe he looks at the other fighter, and sees by the way he’s loosening up that his opponent is experienced, strong, very confident. Then when the opponent takes off his robe, he’s got big bulging muscles. What the fighter has to realize,’ concludes D’Amato, ‘is that he’s got exactly the same effect on his opponent, only he doesn’t know it. And when the bell rings, instead of facing a monster built up by the imagination, he’s simply up against another fighter.'”
Pulled from a section on Cus D’Amato in Thomas Hauser’s The Black Lights: Inside the World of Professional Boxing.
D’Amato was the trainer behind legends like Floyd Patterson and Mike Tyson, who he adopted at sixteen when Tyson’s mother died. When D’Amato passed away, Tyson discussed his old trainer:
[D’Amato] didn’t know me. He told me with no hesitation that I was going to be the youngest heavyweight champion of all time… If it weren’t for that old, Italian white guy, I would’ve been a bum. Cus D’Amato was a physical person like I am. He was impulsive and impetuous like me. If somebody upset him, he would just go after them — even at 75… the psychologists would’ve had a field day with him.
He’s simply up against another fighter… It applies to a lot of life.
- There’s only one way to get good at fighting
- Teddy Roosevelt: “The best men I know are good at their studies or their business, fearless and stalwart… but always tender to the weak and helpless.”
- Why the south loves football
Photo courtesy of Irish Mirror