Mike Tyson… “was as strong a guy as you’re ever gonna see, but he was as weak a person as you’re ever going to find…”
Teddy Atlas, Tyson’s former trainer, said the above on The Joe Rogan Experience recently. Given the context of who Tyson is/was, it’s a controversial and thought-provoking statement. But who better to judge Iron Mike than one of his very first trainers, a man who was ringside when Tyson was just twelve years of age, fighting his first bout…
Teddy Atlas’ Take on Mike Tyson & Life
Teddy Atlas was one of Mike Tyson’s first boxing trainers. Atlas himself had aspirations of being a pro boxer until he was sidelined with a severe back injury. Loving the sport, he turned to training when he could no longer fight. And he learned the craft of training pro boxers at the knee of legendary coach Cus D’Amato – Tyson’s first and most influential trainer of his legendary career.
Along with Cus, Teddy Atlas helped take Tyson in at the age of 12, when he was a troubled and anxious adolescent. They got him off the proverbial street. And in this interview with Joe Rogan, Atlas explains the inner workings of Tyson’s mind, and how it was extremely fragile, more so than your typical twelve year old.
As a consequence of his upbringing, Tyson could never shake that mental fragility, even as a young adult, and despite being a physical specimen. Teddy explained how, when just twelve years old, Mike was 190 pounds, and no one believed his real age given his mammoth frame. From the get-go, Teddy had to put Tyson up against seventeen-year-olds to avoid severe injury to his opponents, and to be allowed to fight…
In the eighties, Mike Tyson became as famous as Michael Jordan… he was the most ferocious professional boxer in the last fifty years, perhaps ever. Tyson threw punches from hell with the most brutal of intentions, invoking his early nickname ‘Kid Dynamite.’ He became a bully in the ring, capable of intimidating every opponent he went up against for many years. In 1986, at twenty years old, he became the youngest heavyweight champion in the history of boxing. Tyson once KO’d an opponent leaving him with a fractured jaw and cheekbone, and five missing teeth. His career record was 49-3, with 43 of those wins coming from brutal knockouts.
But, according to Teddy Atlas, Tyson wasn’t a great fighter…
Atlas stated, “Tyson’s talent was so great. His physical ability – his talent was so overwhelming…his talent was so superior… that it never got tested…and then five times there was resistance… five times it became a real fight… five times there was something to overcome… and he failed all five times. He was only in five fights in his life, and he was 0-5…”
A Fight, In Life and Boxing, is When There is Resistance
“To me, a fight is not a fight until there is resistance… ’til there something to overcome… something to overcome. Otherwise, it is just an athletic venture. It’s an exhibition. I think life is that. I think you don’t know if a lawyer is a lawyer until there is something to overcome in the courtroom – until something goes wrong…”
– Teddy Atlas
Entrepreneurs Can Learn a Lot from Mike Tyson’s Career
This is a compelling and inspirational interview with Teddy Atlas, demonstrated by Rogan’s reaction and Atlas’ emotion as he gets his message across.
I don’t want to be judgemental toward Tyson here. I’m certainly not trying to bash him. My very brief experience meeting him was pleasant. He was a gentleman. People change.
However, the message from Teddy is essential for entrepreneurs…
When things go right, it’s hard to be angry or upset because you’re not challenged – the outcome is not uncertain. It’s hard to be bruised when things are rolling along according to plan. But how do you react when momentum is lost – when you hit a wall of resistance? When everything that matters is uncertain?
How you respond to adversity is what separates losers from winners, mediocre performers from the great; and the mentally strong from merely the physically powerful. Atlas’ reference to Evander Holyfield is fascinating in that regard. And he also addresses the infamous ear-biting incident as a coward’s way out of a fight…
PS Entrepreneurship is a battle, with many rewards and a ton of adversity. Subscribe to my newsletter below and let’s face them head on together…