11 Life Lessons From Cus D’Amato, Mike Tyson’s Boxing Trainer


Photo Credit: Wikipedia.com

We are all in perpetual search for words of wisdom that can help us overcome obstacles, succeed in our goals, and navigate life like a champ. Who better to be inspired by, then, than the man who is responsible for one of the greatest champs in history? Cus D’Amato was not only Mike Tyson’s trainer, giving the world one of the greatest boxers of all time, but he was also Tyson’s adoptive father.

D’Amato met Mike Tyson during a tumultuous time in his life, when he was barely a teen and already facing a dead end. But D’Amato saw something in the kid and trained him in his now-legendary peekaboo style of boxing, forging a young delinquent into a world champion. When Tyson’s mother died, D’Amato adopted him as his own son, giving him not only athletic ability but a sense of family and belonging, which is something very few athletes can say about their trainers.


Photo credit: Flickr user Abelito Roldan

As a trainer and father figure, D’Amato’s guidance for Tyson was invaluable both in and out of the ring. He shared with him wisdom that had the power to truly transform someone. Here are 11 life lessons from Cus D’Amato that can help change your life as well.

On One’s Nature

  1. “People who are born round don’t die square.”
  2. “There is no such thing as a natural puncher. There is a natural aptitude for punching and that is different. Nobody is born the best. You have to practice and train to become the best.”
  3. “No matter what anyone says, no matter the excuse or explanation, whatever a person does in the end is what he intended to do all along.”

On Fear

  1. “Since nature gave us fear in order to help us survive, we cannot look upon it as an enemy.
  2. Fear is a friend of exceptional people.”
  3. “Fear is like a fire. If you control it, as we do when we heat our houses, it is a friend. When you don’t, it consumes you and everything you do and everything around you.”
  4. “Heroes and cowards feel exactly the same fear. Heroes just react to it differently.”

On Mental Strength

  1. “The other guy probably looks bigger, and stronger and better conditioned and real muscular and when he start to loosen up he looks more experienced. This is the novice fighter’s mind and imagination exaggerating everything, which is what the mind does. Nothing is ever as bad as the imagination makes it, not even death.”
  2. “When two men are fighting, what you’re watching is more a contest of wills than of skills, with the stronger will usually overcoming skill. The skill will prevail only when it is so superior to the other man’s skill that the will is not tested.”

On Having A Purpose In Life

  1. “I believe that people die because they no longer want to live, they have no motivation to stay alive. But I have a reason with Mike here, and he gives me the motivation.”
  2. “I don’t succeed when I make a guy become Champion of the World. I succeed when I make that fellow become Champion of the World and independent of me.”

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