How Did Mike Tyson’s Beloved Trainer Cus D’Amato Die?

Mike Tyson is one of the best boxers ever. After entering boxing as a teenager, he got to his eventual highs thanks to one man. At just 13 years of age, he met a guy named Cus D’Amato at a boxing gym, and a relationship formed. D’Amato helped train Tyson. Tragically, the coach died as soon as Tyson broke onto the scene, but his legacy lives on through the fighter. 

Mike Tyson’s boxing career

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Tyson first got into the boxing ring as a pro in 1985 against Hector Mercedes. With every passing fight, his star grew. Tyson didn’t just win almost every match he accepted, he dominated. For five years, he knocked out every opponent before a highly publicized fight with Buster Douglas changed the all-time great’s career forever. Douglas knocked Tyson out, proving Iron Mike was human after all. 

Not long after his loss to Douglas, Tyson’s troubles bled over to his everyday life. He was sent to prison on rape charges, and his boxing career was put on hold for four years before he retook the ring in 1995 against Buster Mathis Jur. Initially, Tyson appeared not to miss a beat, defeating Mathis Jr., Frank Bruno, and Bruce Seldon with ease. In 1996, however, he faced off against Evander Holyfield. 

After dropping the first fight with the up-and-coming Holyfield, Tyson and Holyfield fought a rematch months later that defined Tyson’s career. After getting pummeled by his fellow heavyweight, Tyson bit a chunk out of Holyfield’s ear and was disqualified. His career was never the same. He won sporadically, but in 2005 Tyson retired after a loss to Kevin McBride. However, he recently announced a comeback fight despite being in his late 50s. 

Mike Tyson’s guardian angel

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Growing up in Brooklyn, Tyson was a troubled child. He had already been arrested 38 times by the time he was 13 years old. Furthermore, his father was never in the picture, and his mother died when he was only 16. Although Tyson was never charged for anything heinous as a youth, he went down the wrong path. 

While spending time at the Tyron School for Boys, he met Bobby Stewart. Stewart was a counselor at the detention facility. Stewart introduced Tyson to D’Amato, and the boxer finally had a father figure in his life. D’Amato got Tyson out of the boy’s school and into the boxing gym. By 1982, he was in the junior Olympic games, where he took home the gold. 

When Tyson took the ring in March of 1985, Cus was cheering him on. Unfortunately, tragedy struck just a few months later. 

The death of Cus D’Amato

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Tyson has made no qualms about D’Amato’s impact on his boxing. He spoke about his beloved trainer to GQ Magazine

“I developed [my knockout ability] through Cus D’Amato telling me repetitiously over and over again to do this movement and to punch with this type of bad intentions,” Tyson told the magazine. “And just to have ferociousness and mean intentions whenever you throw punches and stuff. And try and punch through your opponent, not at him.” 

At the time when Tyson could’ve used D’Amato most, the trainer passed away due to complications with pneumonia. Within a year, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history. He let the world know what D’Amato meant to him. Tyson’s reputation will always be complicated. However, without D’Amato to guide him, things could’ve been even worse. 

Thirty-five years after his first professional fight, Tyson remains a public figure. When he steps into the ring in September, he will likely have the ghosts of D’Amato’s memories guiding him along the way.