If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I am a fan of the late Cus D’Amato. So much can be learned by studying his approach as a boxing trainer as well as the philosophies that he shared with his fighters. There is no denying the success that Cus had with boxers like Floyd Patterson, Jose Torres, and Mike Tyson. Cus was also instrumental in tutoring successful trainers such as Kevin Rooney and Teddy Atlas. Anyone with those names on his résumé is worth studying. Cus D’Amato wouldn’t have wanted you to just study him though. One of his fundamental beliefs was the importance of studying great fighters from previous eras. If you trained or worked under Cus, it is safe to say that you were going to become a student of the game.
Mike Tyson, a Boxing Student
One of the best examples of becoming a boxing student can be seen from a young Mike Tyson. While Tyson is often remembered for his brute strength and power, many don’t realize that he was also a student of the game. Cus D’Amato schooled him well. He instilled upon Tyson the importance of learning from those who came before him.
A great display of Tyson’s boxing knowledge can be seen in the documentary below. Within the footage, you will see Tyson share his thoughts about several legendary boxers from the past.
Unfortunately, the lessons that were passed on to Tyson are often forgotten. Many of today’s boxers are ignorant to the past. They have been misled to believe that former fighters trained with antiquated methods that would be irrelevant today. I have actually had conversations with professional fighters who have never heard of boxers such as Joe Louis, Ray Robinson, or Henry Armstrong.
It is mind boggling that a professional could pursue his trade without studying and learning from these past legends. If you take your sport seriously, it is your responsibility to do everything that you can to improve. I’m not suggesting that you learn how to box by studying past fighters, but you can certainly learn something new by studying something old. Almost every great boxer from the past did something unique that is worth studying and possibly applying.
Old School Meets New School
I am not ashamed to admit that I’m old school when it comes to training a fighter. As I’ve said before, the best gym in the world could be an empty barn if you had good sparring within. State of the art technology is not necessary.
One advancement that I cannot overlook however is the rapid development of the internet. Never before has it been so easy to study video of past fighters. You can type almost any Hall of Fame boxer’s name into Youtube and find several clips within seconds. Cus D’Amato would have been amazed to find so much boxing footage with just a few pushes of a button.
If you are serious about boxing, I highly encourage you to take advantage of the free resources that are readily available to you. A young Mike Tyson didn’t have the luxury of watching classic footage on Youtube. Fortunately, you do, and plenty can be learned through simple observation. All boxers and trainers should continually strive to learn more about their sport. Only a fool believes that he knows everything. There is always something new or different that you have not seen or considered. Studying past fighters will often trigger certain thoughts or ideas that would have otherwise remained dormant.
In summary, I am not suggesting that there won’t be opportunities to improve on the past. Such opportunities are not nearly as common as many believe however. New ideas rarely equate to better ideas. And it is much more difficult to improve on the past if you aren’t familiar with it.
Take the time to become a true student of the game.