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January 17, 1908|
|Died||November 4, 1985(aged 77)|
Constantine "Cus" D'Amato (January 17, 1908 – November 4, 1985) was an American boxing manager and trainer who handled the careers of Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson, José Torres, and Vinnie Ferguson. Several successful boxing trainers, including Teddy Atlas, Kevin Rooney, and Joe Fariello, were tutored by D'Amato. He is known for developing the "peek-a-boo" boxing style in which a fighter holds his hands high in front of his face.
When he was 22, he opened the Empire Sporting Club with Jack Barrow at the Gramercy Gym. D'Amato lived in the gym for years. According to D'Amato, he spent his time at the gym waiting for a "champion," but his best fighters would routinely be poached by "connected" managers. One fighter discovered by D'Amato was Rocky Graziano, who signed with other trainers and managers and went on to become middleweight champion of the world.
D'Amato also confronted boxing politics, and decided, along with his friend Howard Cosell, to thwart the International Boxing Club of New York (IBC). Suspicious to the point of paranoia, D'Amato refused to match his fighter in any bout promoted by the IBC. The IBC was eventually found to be in violation of anti-trust laws and was dissolved.[dead link]
Under D'Amato's tutelage, Floyd Patterson captured the Olympic middleweight gold medal in the 1952 Helsinki games. D'Amato then guided Patterson through the professional ranks, maneuvering Patterson into fighting for the title vacated by Rocky Marciano. In an elimination bout against Archie Moore, D'Amato's fighter won the heavyweight championship of the world.
It was there that he met and began to work with the future heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, who was in a nearby reform school. He took Tyson under his wing and adopted him after Tyson's mother died. D'Amato trained him over the next few years, encouraging Tyson to use the peek-a-boo approach style of boxing, where the hands are placed in front of the boxers face for more protection. D'Amato was assisted by Teddy Atlas, who later became a respected trainer himself, and later Kevin Rooney, a protégé of D'Amato, who emphasized elusiveness of movement and took Tyson to the heavyweight championship sixteen months after D'Amato's death. At one point, Bobby Stewart was going to train Tyson after witnessing him getting into a fight, however, he chose not to, leaving D'Amato to continue training Tyson. D'Amato died shortly before Tyson became the youngest world heavyweight titleholder in history at the age of 20.
Footage of D'Amato can be seen in Tyson, a documentary film released in 2008. Tyson credits D'Amato with building his confidence, turning his life around, and being the only father figure in his life.
In 1993, the 14th Street Union Square Local Development Corporation named part of 14th street, where D'Amato's Gramercy Gym was located, "Cus D'Amato Way".
"KNOCKOUT: The Cus D'Amato Story," is a stage and screenplay based on the life of Cus D'Amato, from a concept by boxing trainer Kevin Rooney and written by Dianna Lefas.
- Brozan, Nadine (1993-10-29). "CHRONICLE". The New York Times.
- Heller, Peter (1995). Bad Intentions: The Mike Tyson Story. Da Capo Press. pp. 17–20, 26, 51. ISBN 0-306-80669-X.
- [dead link]
- "D'Amato Misses on Long Shot". The New York Times. 08-01-1982.
- Heller, Peter(1988). "Bad Intentions: The Mike Tyson Story", p. 13. Da Capo Press, New York, 1988.
- Anderson, Dave (03-08-1987). "SPORTS OF THE TIMES; 'TIME FOR THE NEW TRAINERS'". The New York Times.
- "Boxing Manager Cus D'Amato Dies at 77". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 December 2012.