Fighting Philosophy: Cus D’Amato

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Cus D’Amato is a legend among hardcore boxing fans, a true master martial artist, mixed with an intricate knowledge of a fighters psychology, he trained 3 world champions, 2 of which became the worlds youngest heavyweight champions ever and one who became the worlds first latin-american to win the world light heavy weight title. as well as training 3 world champions, he also worked with Kevin Rooney and Teddy Atlas, both of whom are considered to be the foremost experts in the style of peekaboo boxing. In short Cus D’Amato was one bad motherfucker.

Cus D’Amato believed in brutal workout regimes due to the constant movement of the aggressively safe boxing style that is Peekaboo Boxing, a vast swath of stamina was required. Mike Tysons brutal training regime has become the stuff of legend.said to of contained thousands of squats, and hundreds of push ups, sit ups and dips, as well as 12 rounds of sparring and six rounds of bag work with a 5 mile jog too. Cus also believed in the importance of Psychology of fighting, Here is an old interview with Cus D’Amato and an up and coming 17 year old Mike Tyson. where he goes into depth of his knowledge and beliefs on what makes a fighter great.  Be warned though, this video is almost two hours long, so watch it when you have plenty of time to kill. 

One thing Cus is well known for is his ability to teach his fighters how to utilise their fear, he likens fear to a fire and how, if left uncontrolled can burn and ruin. But if manipulated and controlled you can harness it and make it work in your favour. A very good resource for learning about and integrating Cus’s philosophies into your life is the book Iron Ambition written by Mike Tyson.  

'Boxing is a sport of self-control. You must understand Fear so you can manipulate it. Fear is like fire. You can make it work for you: it can warm you in the winter, cook your food when you’re hungry, give you light when you are in the dark, and produce energy. Let it go out of control and it can hurt you.' Cus D'Amato

As martial artists we know how that fear feels, your legs might shake, your might cry before going to the gym, you might be like me and dry heave when you put your gum shield in. But mastering our fears is one of the reasons we do martial arts and as such we should always try to emulate this, even if you don’t compete, you should never let your fear control you. As the great Mr Miyagi once said ‘its ok to lose to opponent, must not lose to fear’.