Legendary trainer Cus D’Amato, aka Constantine D’Amato, has been described as Mike Tyson’s “surrogate father” and a man Tyson was “petrified” of because of mind games the psychology buff used to play with the former heavyweight champion of the world.
The diminutive boxing sage may have scared Tyson, but he met his match when he got the opportunity to trade jabs with another icon of the sport: Muhammad Ali.
Cus taught Tyson his famous “peek-a-boo” style with his hands held up in front of his head, charging in, bobbing, weaving, and typically knocking out whoever stood across from in the ring.
Muhammad Ali on the other hand had a style all his own.
When he met D’Amato, a legendary encounter ensued.
The meeting of D’Amato, described as a “mental strategist” who “understood the realms of psychology and the psychic realms of a person a little better than most people do” according to Teddy Atlas, and Ali, another master of mental warfare in the ring, was unforgettable to say the least.
Ali met with D’Amato prior to his matchup with George Foreman to get some tips on how to beat a bigger man.
The diminutive, legendary trainer can be seen in the video below slap-boxing with Ali, not holding anything back and producing some stellar moments.
Suits, Ties and Slap-boxing
“It is the mark of a great fighter when he has character plus skill, because a fighter with character and skill will often rise and beat a better fighter because of this,” D’Amato says prior to showing off his skills against Ali.
“Character is that quality on which you can depend under pressure and other conditions.”
While Ali’s unpredictable nature and ability to freelance in the ring made him arguably the greatest of all-time, D’Amato shared a few words about when a certain type of “predictability” can actually be an asset to a great champion.
“Character makes a fighter predictable. Character makes him win.”
Decked out in full business attire, D’Amato and Ali exchange slap-boxing style blows in the clip below.
The aging trainer even manages to clip Ali with a stiff left hand about midway through, which gets the champ a bit riled up as you may imagine.
“Oh, you’re not as dumb as you look!” exclaims Ali as D’Amato shows him the perfect counter to his trademark shuffle.
Watch the full video below, which includes highlights of famous D’Amato success stories.
D’Amato’s motivational style had a profound effect on Mike Tyson as well, as seen in the clip below.