True Mike Tyson
… At first, on our first weekends, Cus wouldn’t even let me box. Once we’d finished warming up with Teddy, we’d sit down and chat. He asked me about my feelings, how I felt, and he told me about the psychology of boxing. He wanted to get to know me. We discussed the spiritual aspects of boxing. “If you don’t have the spirit of a warrior, you can be big and big but you’ll never become a real boxer,” he said. He made rather abstract speeches, but he was convincing. He spoke my language. He too came from the slums and grew up in the street. First he told me about fear and how to overcome it. “It’s the biggest obstacle to learning. But she can also become your best friend. It’s like fire: if you learn to control it you can use it to heat and cook, without control it will burn you and your home. Or like a snowball on top of a slope: you can pick it up and hurl it down, but if you let it go it starts to swell, until it becomes an avalanche and crushes you. Similarly, you must never allow the fear to get out of hand, or you won’t be able to achieve your goal. Or save your life. Imagine a deer crossing a clearing. At the edge of the forest, instinct warns him of a lurking danger, perhaps a mountain lion. Nature has equipped it with a survival mechanism, the adrenal glands, which begin to pump adrenaline into the blood, accelerating the heartbeat and allowing the body to perform extraordinary agility and strength feats. Get used to fear and you’ll always be on the look and on, like a deer crossing the clearing. You think you know the difference between a hero and a coward, Mike? Well, it’s not about how they feel. It is their actions that distinguish them. Heroes and cowards experience exactly the same emotions: but it’s what the hero does that makes him a hero, and it’s what the other doesn’t do that makes him a coward.” He was also a fanatic of the assertions, those positive phrases that are repeated in order to self-persuade. Cus suffered from severe cataracts in one eye and claimed that acting as a mantra “always, every day and in everything” had almost healed her. He made me repeat endlessly “I’m the strongest boxer in the world, no one can beat me. The best. No one can beat me.” I liked it crazy. I loved hearing about myself. Cus gave me a precise path to follow and a goal. I would have become the youngest heavyweight champion in history. His number one enemy was Ronald Reagan. If she saw him appear on television, he would start screaming loudly: “Liar! Liar! Liar! Liar!” He was out of his mind. He was constantly talking about who was going to die. “The money has to be thrown out the window. It’s safety, and for me, safety equals death, so I’ve always bothered to stockpile substances. Things that have value are not for sale. Money never attracted me, but the truth is that I never rinse: my possessions I gave to those who really needed it. I don’t see it as a waste.” He was also against the idea of paying taxes to a right-wing government. When his debt to the taxman reached two hundred thousand dollars, he declared bankruptcy. His entry into the world of boxing is a kind of mystery. One day, out of the blue, he woke up and decided, “I’m a coach.” Out of nowhere he came to be manager of top-level boxers. Soon after, however, came the first disappointment. A right-wing lawyer, Roy Cohn, blew Floyd Patterson. The boxer had recently converted to Catholicism and Cohn had won him over by introducing him to the cardinal of New York. Cus never set foot in a Catholic church again and from that moment on became increasingly paranoid. He claimed he tried to kill him by throwing him under a subway car. He stopped going to bars for fear that they’d put drugs in his drink. He got to the point of sewing the pockets of his jacket for fear that they would frame him, putting drugs in it. He had forbidden anyone from entering his room, and he would place matches between the jambs and the door to make sure no one did it secretly. If he would cross me in the hallway, he would blurt out, “What are you doing here?” “I live there, Cus.” One night, one of his guest sparring partners sneaked out for a ride into town. The next morning Tom and I got up early and went down for breakfast, as usual. In the living room we found Cus lying on the ground, crawling like a marine, with his rifle in his hand. The guy had come back and knocked on the window. Cus must have taken it for a hitman hired by the IBC. We just climbed over it and went into the kitchen to get our cereal. Cus was a general, I was his soldier. And we were ready to fight. “My job is to free yourself layer by layer from the damage that has inflicted your life and that prevent you from growing up to your potential.” But it was a painful process. I rebelled, I yelled at him to leave me alone. His was a form of mental torture. If during a sparring with an older guy he noticed that I was demotivated and I responded weakly to the thumping blows of the opponent, he would take me aside forcing me to face my fears. He was a perfectionist. When I tried the combinations he had taught me, he was there watching. Then in his Bronx accent, he commented, “No bad, not bad really. But it’s not flawless yet.” “I don’t create anything. I’ll find out, let me know. My job is to discover the spark and feed it. Food that spark and become a flame; it becomes a fire. I’m going to set the fire and it becomes a roaring hot flash.” He knew how to give pearls of wisdom even in the most mundane situations. Camille insisted that the boys play their part in housework. One day Cus came to talk to me: “You know, Camille cares a lot. I don’t care, but I think you should obey her. The trades will make you feel like a better boxer.” “what does boxing have to do with taking out the garbage?” “to do a duty that you loathe as if you loved it is a great exercise for those who aspire to greatness.” After that speech Camille never needed to ask me to help again. Cus had convinced me that he had a mission to accomplish. I had to train every day and just think about boxing, with a fucking absolute concentration. He gave me a purpose in life. It was a feeling I’d never felt before, except when I was planning a robbery. We both knew we were running against the clock. Cus was 70 years old, he wasn’t a kid, and he was in a hurry to pass on everything he knew. He was relentlessly gooling me with all his bullshit, I’m going to get into it. To the fury of hearing them repeat them, if you’re not an idiot, you necessarily learn them. I became quite skilled as a boxer, but my human and mental development did not keep up with the athletic one. It was all channeled to one goal: to make me the world heavyweight champion. “God, I wish I had more time to devote to you,” he said. I was an overrun. In the evening I stayed up late, practicing what is called shadowboxing. I would have felt like shit if I hadn’t. To succeed was a matter of life and death. And I did it for Cus, too. He had had a difficult life, full of disappointment. I had set out to defend the ego and honor of this old man from Italian origins. Who the fuck did I think I was? When I wasn’t training, I watched footage of past encounters, glued to the screen for ten hours in a row. It was my prize, on weekends. I watched them alone, in my room, late into the night. I turned up the volume, and the news rumbled all over the house. My sparring sessions were an open war. Before I got in the ring, Cus was going to give me a little talk. “Don’t hold back, get in there. Practice everything you’ve learned and at full speed. I want you to break his ribs.” Break his ribs? But wasn’t it sparring? The idea was to prepare for the actual fights, when I really had to aim to break the bones of the opponent. Every time I was a suitable sparring partner, he wanted to make sure he offered me a great workout. He paid them handsomely. But that didn’t guarantee that they would stay. It was often the case that a guy came in convinced that he was limited to traditional sparring for three weeks. After the first session we would come into the house and find him no longer. The ass I was making left them so shocked that they didn’t even waste time packing their bags. When that happened, Tom and I would go straight to the room and rummage through their stuff. With a bit of luck, you could find a bag of marijuana or a pair of shoes of our number. The way we fought was not just to win, but to hurt the opponent. We talked about it for hours. This is the philosophy that Cus instilled in me. “You’re sending a message to the title holder, Mike,” he told me. “He’ll be looking at you.” But the message would also come to the managers, promoters, to the whole boxing environment: Cus was back. I trained myself in malice. On my way to school, I attacked passers-by on the street. In my heart, I knew I had to behave like this because, if I failed Cus, he would get rid of me and starve. “You allow your mind to have the upper hand.” In his secret code, it meant: “You’re a piece of shit. You don’t have the discipline to become a great man.” My weight had always been a problem for me. In my eyes, I was as fat as a pig, although no one would have said it to look at me. When I was training, I smeared Albolene’s body, a cream used by athletes to plug pores, and to sweat and lose weight I wore a plastic suit that I only took off the night before a hot bath. Cus teased me about it. “You got your big ass. What, did you get tired of Mike? Is it too hard for you? Did you think you were coming here to have fun? Did you think you lived like in Brownsville where you spent your time hanging out? Sometimes he would scold me, and I didn’t even know why. He attacked me, put her on staff. “you’ll never get to the top, you’re too childish.” After a while I blurted out, “I hate you all!” Cus was tearing me apart. He even criticized the way I dressed. During the holidays, guests would come to the house, maybe Camille’s sister or someone else. I was wearing a good pair of pants, my shirt, my waistcoat; Camille helped me tie the knot. I stood there, sitting quietly, with all the ladies saying”oh, Mike, how elegant you are.” As long as Cus gets here. “why did you ced it like that? Your pants are so tight you can see your balls and ass. What’s wrong with you?” He never used vulgar insults, like “son of a bitch.” He gave me a jar and a “piece.” In boxing jargon, though, it was tantamount to branding me a lurid, good-for-nothing negro. I cried like a infant. He knew how to hurt me. His attitude was so contradictory that I began to doubt his judgment on me as a boxer. One day I was leaving the gym with Tom Patti, and Cus had to hold on for a moment. So I jumped in the car and hid in the back seat. “when Cus arrives, tell him I’m back on foot. Then ask him what he really thinks of me,” I asked Tom, and he agreed. Cus got behind the wheel. “Where the hell is Mike?” “I think he wants to stay in town,” Tom replied. Knowing that he was half deaf, I whispered to Tom, “come on, ask him if he thinks I hit hard.” “Hey Cus, do you say Mike beats hard?” he said. “Beating hard? Let me tell you something: that guy’s fists would break through a brick wall. Not only does it hit hard, but it is effective. He can knock out an opponent with both his right and his left.” “Ask him if he thinks I can become someone,” I whispered. Tom repeats the question. “Tommy, if Mike keeps his head on his shoulders and focuses on his goal, he will become one of the greatest boxers in history, if not the greatest ever.” Hearing him say it extolled me. Then we got home and, getting out of the car, Cus saw me crouched in the back seat. “You knew he was here, didn’t you?” he said to Tom. “Don’t try to twist me. You knew that. You wanted to make me a fool!”
Mike Tyson True
“All of a sudden I was the world champion, so everyone expected me to be a done and finished man.
Instead, I was just a 20-year-old boy.
And I was lost.
Without anyone to guide me, I felt wrecked in life.
At dawn, I looked in the mirror with that belt on and realized That I had accomplished our mission.
I was free now.
Then I remembered a phrase lenin wrote: “freedom is a very precious thing. So precious that it should be rationed.”
I had read it somewhere in Cus’s books, and it was a statement that I had better keep in mind in the years to come.”
Mike Tyson True