It is impossible to tell the story of “Iron” Mike Tyson without mentioning the legendary trainer Cus D’Amato. D’Amato spotted Tyson when he was only 12. When Tyson was just 13, D’Amato predicted he would be heavyweight champion. Tyson explores this relationship in his new book Iron Ambition: My Life With Cus D’Amato.
Tyson, of course, became the youngest heavyweight champ ever when he won the title in 1986 at age 20. (D’amato did not live to see this, having died in 1985.) Sports Illustrated has an excerpt of the book. Of particular interest is when Tyson watches the movie The Greatest, in which Muhammad Ali plays himself. Tyson hadn’t been much of a fan of boxing and, up to that point, his life was a series of arrests. (At the time he was being held Bridges Juvenile Center, known as Spofford.) This screening proves a transformative moment:
“But watching his biopic in a room filled with hundreds of kids at Spofford was great. And when the movie was over, the lights came on, and, all of a sudden, Ali walked out on the stage and the place just exploded. Whoa. Ali started talking to us about being in detention and he was saying how he had been in jail and he had lost his mind. He was saying just beautiful, inspirational stuff. That speech was a game changer for me. It’s not that I wanted to become a boxer after hearing him. I just knew that I wanted to be famous.”
Soon after Cus D’Amato entered his life, putting him on the path to a title. Take a look at Cus in the video below.