Mike Tyson ‘never really had a home’ until trainer took him in
"It became very much a home for Mike Tyson, which he had never really had," said Ross Greenburg, former president of HBO Sports, in the teaser of ABC's 'Mike Tyson: The Knockout' documentary.
A closer look into former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson’s upbringing, career peaks, and valleys is coming through a new ABC documentary this spring. In it, the bond between Tyson and renowned boxing trainer Constantine “Cus” D’Amato is also highlighted as a key part of the Brooklyn native’s story.
Tyson’s rough upbringing involved gang activity, numerous arrests, and a stay at a boys reform school but a turning point came when he was introduced to the Bronx-born D’Amato in 1980. When he was 16 years old, Tyson’s mother passed away and D’Amato became his legal guardian, PEOPLE reports.
“I don’t trust anybody in general. I don’t like for people to know me at all and I just recently trusted [D’Amato] because the same way I trust him, he trusts me and he trusts me a lot,” said a young Tyson during an interview in the 80s.
D’Amato trained and mentored other storied boxers including former world middleweight holder Rocky Graziano, former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, Olympian Jose Torres, and many others. As an adolescent from a family of Italian immigrants, D’Amato had his own dreams of becoming a boxer but after losing his sight from a severe eye injury, he redirected to helping others; he eventually opened a gym and his home to young boxers like Tyson.
“It became very much a home for Mike Tyson, which he had never really had,” said Ross Greenburg, former president of HBO Sports, in the documentary teaser. The guidance D’Amato provided helped to set Tyson on a trajectory to become the youngest ever world heavyweight champion.
Over the years, Tyson has spoken of D’Amato’s foundational impact on his life. “If Cus was happy, it made me happy. If me knocking out people made him happy, f—, 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 him to be happy,” Tyson said on an episode of his podcast Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson.
D’Amato and his partner Camille Ewald remained at Tyson’s side throughout the star’s tumultuous time in the public, including legal battles and numerous controversies. D’Amato passed away from pneumonia in 1985, which dealt a devastating blow to Tyson.
“I think he grew up without any love or affection, he just grew up in the street looking for something. He wanted somebody to pay attention to him,” said Camille Ewald, D’Amato’s partner, and Tyson’s adoptive mother.
The two part docuseries Mike Tyson: The Knockout debuts on ABC this Tuesday, May 25th and on Jun 1st at 8pm EST.
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