Mike Tyson and Cus D’Amato – two legends of the boxing world who are forever entwined. Every boxing fan knows the story of how Cus, a seen it all, done it all boxing manager/trainer from a golden era, found one last champion in the making in a teenage Tyson. “Saving” Tyson’s life after recognizing the natural fighting talent the tearaway possessed, D’Amato moved his new charge into his house, worked him tirelessly in the gym, and eventually became Mike’s legal guardian.
Tyson soaked it all up: the training techniques, the secrets of the trade and the tales of great fighters from yesteryear. The two were inseparable – until, sadly, Cus passed away on November 4 in 1985 after a battle with pneumonia. This event in his young life shook Tyson to his core. An 11-0 pro at the time of Cus’s passing, 19-year-old Tyson, showing great inner strength, got through the pain of losing D’Amato – possibly the only man he ever truly loved in his life – by focusing on the task at hand; that of becoming the world champion Cus knew he would one day become.
Tyson of course achieved his and Cus’s dream, decimating Trevor Berbick to take the WBC crown in November of 1986. After the fight, the youngest heavyweight champion in history paid tribute to his mentor, saying on air how he was sure “he was up there telling all the great old fighters how his boy had done it.”
Today, Tyson paid another tribute to D’Amato, on Twitter.
“Cus D’Amato died this day 1985 – When was the last time you saw a manager, promoter, or trainer, shine a fighter’s shoes. Cus adored fighters,” Tyson wrote, his message accompanied by a photo of Cus, kneeling and shining the shoes of legendary world lightweight king Beau Jack.
A touching tribute to a great trainer from a great fighter. Tyson, one of the most knowledgeable boxing fanatics in the world, must be recalling those priceless times when he and Cus would roll the film and watch the special boxing masters from years gone by practice their magic.
“They were like Gods to me,” Tyson said of the boxing greats Cus would educate him on.
Continue to rest in peace, Cus D’Amato.