Mike Tyson Initially Wanted to Rob His Trainer and Foster Parent, Cus D’Amato

Mike Tyson’s first trainer, Cus D’Amato was a major influence on him as both a boxer and a man. D’Amato helped Tyson turn his life around and taught him the techniques that would later help him become heavyweight champion of the world.

However, when Tyson first met D’Amato, things weren’t so sweet. At that point, Tyson was just a common street urchin who loved to rob people for fun. Tyson even admitted recently that he actually wanted to rob D’Amato when he first met him. 

Mike Tyson considered robbing Cus D’Amato, his guardian and trainer

Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson attends the 19th annual Harold and Carole Pump Foundation Gala | Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

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Cus D’Amato was Tyson’s first trainer and the man responsible for helping Tyson turn his life of crime around. Tyson moved in with D’Amato after he was sent to a reform school due to his nefarious behaviors. 

When the two first met, Tyson didn’t know what to make of D’Amato. Having grown up in one of the most ruthless neighborhoods in America, his first instinct was to take advantage of D’Amato.

“When it came to Cus, I saw this big house, you know, I’m from the gutter,” Tyson said. “I saw this big house, 14 room Victorian mansion, I said ‘Wow, I’ma live here?’ And I thought about the same thing, I thought about robbing him too. Its hard not to think that if you’re a street person. You see this guy, all this stuff, and he says ‘No, all this stuff is yours, you live here, you’re one of us.’ But I don’t know, I still wanted to rob him. 

Mike Tyson was wary of Cus D’Amato’s love

Tyson’s rough upbringing made it difficult for him to trust anyone, let alone D’Amato. Growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn, he wasn’t used to anyone being genuinely kind to him. Tyson was suspicious of D’Amato’s soft approach for a time and even mistook his kindness as a sign of homosexuality.

“And then he started talking to me about my character and this and that … and I say, ‘Who is this guy? I thought it was some gay guy hitting on me or something. Telling you you look nice [unintelligible] what the f—k is he talking about? Right? What the hell does he want? And I said ‘What’s this white guy gonna teach me about fighting. Woo, what did I f—in’ find out.”

In time, Tyson let his guard down and the rewards were huge. He revealed that D’Amato taught him about a lot more than just the craft of fighting—he taught him the spirit of fighting. 

“You know what I mean, he taught me about the spirit of fighting. You know, that’s bigger than fighting. The spirit of fighting. You know, woo, he just—then I became his slave. I said teach me more.

Tyson lived to make D’Amato proud

As their relationship progressed, Tyson began to trust D’Amato more and looked to him for guidance in life. As his guardian, D’Amato did more than teach Tyson essential boxing techniques. D’Amato was also committed to teaching him life skills and helped him become a better man.

As Tyson progressed as a boxer, he found fulfillment in making D’Amato proud. At a young age, he dedicated his life to making D’Amato happy.

“If Cus was happy, it made me happy. If me knocking out people made him happy, f—k, I wanna do it. I wanna knock out five people a day. Really, because that made him happy. That was my job, I just wanted to make him happy. Him being happy made me happy. 

Tyson and D’Amato’s relationship paid huge dividends for the boxer. Under his tutelage, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever, winning the title at just 20 years old. Today, he’s known as one of the greatest boxers of all time.