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Iron Ambition: My Life with Cus D'Amato Hardcover – May 30, 2017
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“In this tender and disturbing hybrid of memoir and biography, former heavyweight boxing champion Tyson examines one of the most unusual characters in boxing history…. Tyson’s love for Cus D’Amato is more than apparent, but it doesn’t lead him to downplay his teacher’s myriad faults.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The boxing champion, infamous for biting and beating, reveals his soft side in this memoir of his longtime mentor and trainer.... [Tyson] writes respectfully and affectionately [about Constantine 'Cus' D'Amato], though some of the old toughness hangs on.... A belated but welcome homage to a boxing legend who died shortly before Tyson's career took off. Fans of the sweet science will want to have a look."
About the Author
Mike Tyson is the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, and the first boxer ever to hold the three biggest belts in prizefighting—the WBC, WBA, and IBF world heavyweight titles—simultaneously. Tyson’s enduring appeal has launched him into a career in entertainment: he was a standout in the blockbuster films The Hangover and The Hangover Part II, and recently he has earned tremendous acclaim for his one-man show Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth. Tyson has launched a clothing company, Roots of Fight, and Tyrrhanic Productions, which currently has several film projects in development. In 2011 he was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife, Kiki, and their children.
Larry “Ratso” Sloman is best known as Howard Stern’s collaborator on Private Parts and Miss America. Sloman’s recent collaborations include Mysterious Stranger, with magician David Blaine; Scar Tissue, the memoir of Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis; and Undisputed Truth with Mike Tyson. His biography of Houdini, The Secret Life of Houdini, is soon to be a major motion picture for Lionsgate.
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Anyone would be proud to have this book written about them.
Its frightening to see what happens in professional boxing because its not what the average guy sees on tv.
D’Amato obviously featured heavily in Tyson’s candid autobiography ‘Undisputed Truth’, written with Larry Sloman, and the same team now examine the Iron Man’s relationship with D’Amato in detail in the equally well written ‘Iron Ambition. My Life with Cus D’Amato’.
Tyson asks how this boxing manager and trainer watched him spar for less than ten minutes when he was thirteen years old and correctly predicted that he would become the youngest ever heavyweight champion of the world and then proceeds to answer his own question by showing that D’Amato was much more than a great boxing coach, who developed the ‘peek-a-boo’ style of fighting (where both hands are kept in front of the body rather than adopting a stance in which one arm and one foot are placed forward).
Tyson shows that D’Amato was a true mentor who built character as much as muscle, and mental discipline as much as physical stamina, believing that fights are won or lost in the mind before the competitors even enter the ring.
Tyson has acknowledged that had D’Amato not rescued him from the mean streets of Brownsville in New York City, he might well have suffered an early violent death. D’Amarto, the son of Italian immigrants in the Bronx, knew precisely what was at stake, having been nearly blinded and had his own hopes of a career in boxing ended when, aged twelve, he suffered a head injury in a fight with an adult. D’Amato’s personal courage was most obviously evident in his professional career, before he took on Tyson, by his taking on the Mob – effectively breaking the monopoly of championship bouts and boxing contracts exercised by the corrupt International Boxing Club.
D’Amato diverted Tyson from a life of crime when he took the thirteen-year-old into his home when Tyson left the Tryon School for Boys, a New York State correctional facility, and in 1982, upon the death of the boy’s mother, he became the sixteen-tear old Tyson's legal guardian. In just under four years from that time Tyson knocked out Trevor Berbick in the second round to become WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World. Sadly D’Amato did not live to see this triumph, having died in the previous year.
Considering how badly Tyson subsequently went off the rails, both outside and inside the ring, it’s interesting but pointless to speculate whether, had D’Amato lived longer, he might have been able to suppress, or at least channel, Tyson’s inner demons.
What we have in ‘Iron Ambition’ is effectively an extended love letter from Tyson to his surrogate father. Love is sometimes blind and never more so than with respect to self-love and Tyson exhibits something of a blind-spot in presenting himself as the youngest ever heavyweight boxing champion. When he defeated Berbick, to win the WBC title, the world of boxing had divided into rival organizations legitimising world championship boxing titles. Ironically the youngest ever undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion was another D’Amato protégé, Floyd Patterson, who won that title aged twenty-one in 1956.
Few would now subscribe to the description of boxing as the noble art and Tyson, as much as any man, is responsible for it losing that badge of honour yet in ‘Iron Ambition’ Tyson has painted an indelible and convincing portrait of Cus D’Amato as a noble soul.