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Theodore A. "Teddy" Atlas, Jr. (born July 29, 1956) is an American boxing trainer and fight commentator.
The son of a doctor, Atlas grew up in a wealthy area of Staten Island, New York City, New York. His mother Mary Riley Atlas was a former contestant in the Miss America pageant system, as well as a model. His father was of Hungarian Jewish descent. Teddy spent summers in Spring Lake New Jersey, with his family's friends.
By his own admission, Atlas had a somewhat troubled, rebellious youth. He dropped out of school and was arrested several times. He participated in an armed robbery and served time on Rikers Island. Atlas was involved in a street fight in Stapleton, Staten Island in which his face was severely slashed with a "007" flick knife. The wound took 400 stitches in total to close, with 200 on the outside of his face and 200 on the inside. The attack left him with a distinctive scar.
Career as a trainer
Teddy Atlas trained as an amateur boxer with Hall of Fame trainer Cus D'Amato. He had some amateur fights but had to turn to work as a trainer due to a back injury. Atlas was an assistant to D'Amato, although his role in the Catskill Boxing Club was short-lived. His duties included assisting in the training of D'Amato's teenage protégé Mike Tyson. However, Atlas left the camp in 1982 following an altercation with the 15-year-old Tyson after Tyson had been sexually inappropriate with a 11-year-old female relative of Atlas's (Tyson said he had grabbed the girl's buttocks). Atlas put a .38 caliber handgun to Tyson's ear and told him to never touch his family again or he would kill him if he did. This altercation between Atlas and a young Mike Tyson led to Atlas' dismissal from the Catskill Boxing Club and he was told he was no longer welcome in D'Amato's home or around any of his adopted children (his fighters whom he had legally adopted, Tyson included).
Atlas enjoyed his biggest success as head trainer to Michael Moorer, whom he guided to the world heavyweight title in 1994. He drew criticism for what some considered to be overly dramatic speeches in the ring corner, particularly during Moorer's Heavyweight title fight with Evander Holyfield, and some felt he did this to draw attention to himself rather than help his fighter. During one such speech Atlas blocked Moorer from sitting on his stool and asked "Do you want me to take over?" Atlas has denied this, stating that he did what he believed the fighter needed based on his understanding of the fighter. Moorer went on to defeat Holyfield by a majority decision.
He worked the corner of Featherweight world champion Barry McGuigan in one fight, and light heavyweight Donny Lalonde. Lalonde was a top-ranked boxer, and Lalonde went 8-0 with Atlas as his trainer, but they clashed in temperament and style. "He ran things like an army camp," Lalonde said, "I'm more of a free spirit." Lalonde also said it was a waste of time in his career. He and Atlas parted ways, and Lalonde hired Tommy Gallagher as his new trainer. In his autobiography, Atlas claimed he was so angry at having been fired by Lalonde that he went to Lalonde's house with a gun intending to kill him. However, Lalonde refuted Atlas's story, claiming he did not even live at the apartment Atlas described at the time. Lalonde also called Atlas "the least significant of all my trainers throughout my career"
In 2009, Atlas began training Russian heavyweight Alexander Povetkin as Povetkin prepared for an eventual title match against Wladimir Klitschko. Povetkin was former world amateur champ, and was the number one contender. Atlas advised Povetkin to pull out of a title fight at the last moment, claiming his promoter was too greedy and would have left his fighter with too little money. His promoter felt betrayed by Atlas, since he had helped hire him a short time earlier. Atlas said that Povetkin "wasn't ready" for Klitschko, and used an example to show his impartiality, that he was giving up the trainer's cut of $200,000 so as to "protect" his fighter. Atlas also called the promoter a "punk" who was protected by his family's money.
On the 27th of August, 2011, with Atlas in his corner, Alexander Povetkin won the regular WBA heavyweight championship, beating Ruslan Chagaev in a unanimous decision (117-113, 117-113 and 116-112). The relationship deteriorated afterwards, and the two parted ways professionally.
In 2015, Atlas returned to training to prepare Timothy Bradley for his welterweight title defense against Brandon Rios. With Atlas in his corner Bradley knocked out Rios in the ninth round of their fight, which took place on November 7, 2015 in Las Vegas.
Atlas currently serves as commentator for ESPN, formerly for ESPN2's Friday Night Fights and Wednesday Night Fights and currently for ESPN's Premier Boxing Champions fights. In 2001, he won the Sam Taub Award for excellence in boxing broadcasting journalism, and was a contributor on fight doctor Ferdie Pacheco's The 12 Greatest Rounds of Boxing DVD, on which he stated that in the first Ali-Liston fight the famous "blind round" in which Ali could not see after being hit by Liston's gloves which had been smeared in a substance that temporarily blinded Ali. Atlas stated he would have refused to have cut Ali's gloves off and would have simply sent him out with the advice to just "run".
On January 25, 2008, Atlas was suspended by ESPN twice, once for threatening a crew member and once (for one week) after confronting the network's boxing program director, Doug Loughrey. Atlas accused Loughrey of showing favoritism to certain promoters and matchmakers, who were abusing their ESPN connections by taking fighters from other promoters with promises of potential ESPN dates.
Atlas is currently married to Elaine, with whom he has two children: Teddy III and Nicole.
In 1997, he founded the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation to honor the memory of his father. The foundation awards scholarships and grants to individuals and organizations. Atlas published his autobiography, Atlas: From the Streets to the Ring: A Son's Struggle to Become a Man, in 2006. The book covers many different periods of Atlas's life, and compares his position as trainer to a role as a father.
- Collegiate Scholarships at Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation
- Teddy Atlas Biography at Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation
- "Teddy Atlas held a gun to Mike Tyson's head". Highly Questionable on ESPN. YouTube. 9 July 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- Newman, Sean. Ringside Report Interviews Teddy Atlas, Ringsidereport.com, 2004-07-24, Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
- "Book Review - Teddy Atlas". BoxingCapital.com. Archived from the original on 12 March 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- Spencer, Dave (12 June 2006). "Donny Lalonde responds to Atlas". FightNews Canada. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- Borges, Ron (26 August 2011). "Atlas, Povetkin In Uphill Fight For Heavyweight Title". TheSweetScience.com. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- "Your NBC Olympics lineup". Medium Well blog. BaltimoreSun.com. Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- BWAA Awards at International Boxing Hall of Fame
- Reeno, Rick (2008-01-25). "ESPN Suspends Teddy Atlas For One Week". BoxingScene.com. Retrieved 2008-01-26.