1933–1985, his death
January 17, 1908 (
The Bronx, New York City, New York, U.S.
Boxing manager and trainer
4 November 1985, Catskill, New York, United States
Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson
Elizabeth D'Amato, Damiano D'Amato
Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson, Kevin Rooney, Trevor Berbick, Teddy Atlas
Cus d amato discover and uncover tribute
Constantine "Cus" D'Amato (January 17, 1908 – November 4, 1985) was an American boxing manager and trainer who handled the careers of Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson, and José Torres; all went on to become members of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Several successful boxing trainers, including Teddy Atlas, Kevin Rooney, and Joe Fariello, were tutored by D'Amato. He was a proponent of the peek-a-boo style of boxing, in which the fighter holds his gloves close to his cheeks and pulls his arms tight against his torso. The style was criticized by some because it was believed that a legitimate attack could not be launched from it.
D'Amato was born to an Italian family in the Bronx, on January 17, 1908. His father Damiano D'Amato delivered ice and coal in the Bronx using a horse and cart. At a young age Cus became very involved and interested in the Catholic church, and at times during his youth he even considered becoming a priest. Cus had a brief career as an amateur boxer, boxing as a featherweight and lightweight, but was unable to get a professional license because of an eye injury he had suffered in a street fight.
In 1933 he opened the Empire Sporting Club with Jack Barrow at the Gramercy Gym. D'Amato lived in the gym for years. According to D'Amato, he spent his time at the gym waiting for a "champion," but his best fighters would routinely be poached by "connected" managers. One fighter discovered by D'Amato was Rocky Graziano, who signed with other trainers and managers and went on to become middleweight champion of the world.
D'Amato also confronted boxing politics and decided, along with his friend Howard Cosell, to thwart the International Boxing Club of New York (IBC). Suspicious to the point of paranoia, D'Amato refused to match his fighter in any bout promoted by the IBC. The IBC was eventually found to be in violation of anti-trust laws and was dissolved.
Under D'Amato's tutelage, Floyd Patterson captured the Olympic middleweight gold medal in the 1952 Helsinki games. D'Amato then guided Patterson through the professional ranks, maneuvering Patterson into fighting for the title vacated by Rocky Marciano. After beating Tommy "Hurricane" Jackson in an elimination fight, Patterson faced Light Heavyweight Champion Archie Moore on November 30, 1956, for the World Heavyweight Championship. He beat Moore by a knockout in five rounds and became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history at the time, at the age of 21 years, 10 months, 3 weeks and 5 days. He was the first Olympic gold medalist to win a professional Heavyweight title.
Patterson and D'Amato split after Patterson's second consecutive 1st-round KO loss to Sonny Liston, although his influence over the former 2-time champion had already begun to diminish.
D'Amato also managed José Torres who in 1965 at Madison Square Garden, defeated the International Boxing Hall Of Fame member, Willie Pastrano, to become world Light Heavyweight champion. With the victory Torres became the third Puerto Rican world boxing champion in history and the first Latin American to win the world Light Heavyweight title.
After Patterson's and Torres's careers had ended, D'Amato worked in relative obscurity. He eventually moved to Catskill, New York, where he opened a gym.
It was there that he met and began to work with the future heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, who was in a nearby reform school. He took Tyson under his wing and adopted him after Tyson's mother died. D'Amato trained him over the next few years, encouraging Tyson to use the peek-a-boo approach style of boxing, where the hands are placed in front of the boxer's face for more protection. D'Amato was assisted -for a short time- by Teddy Atlas, who later became a respected trainer himself, and later Kevin Rooney, a protégé of D'Amato, who emphasized elusiveness of movement and would guide Tyson to the heavyweight championship sixteen months after D'Amato's death. It is unclear at exactly what age (11 or 12) Tyson first became seriously interested in becoming a professional boxer. Bobby Stewart, a former Golden Gloves Champion, was approached by Tyson while working as a counselor at the Tryon School For Boys. Tyson knew of Stewart's former boxing glory and specifically asked to speak with Stewart who immediately took on a gruff attitude of the subject after witnessing Tyson's terrible behavior in his first days at the school. Again, the timeline is unclear, but Bobby Stewart took Mike Tyson to meet D'Amato some time between Tyson's 12-13th year of age. Stewart was clear on the fact that he had taught Mike all he could about boxing technique & skill at that point. D'Amato died a little over a year before Tyson became the youngest world heavyweight titleholder in history at the age of 20 years 4 months, thus supplanting Patterson's record.
Footage of D'Amato can be seen in Tyson, a documentary film released in 2008. Tyson credits D'Amato with building his confidence, turning his life around, and being the only father figure in his life.
In 1993, the 14th Street Union Square Local Development Corporation named part of 14th street, where D'Amato's Gramercy Gym was located, "Cus D'Amato Way".
KNOCKOUT: The Cus D'Amato Story, is a stage and screenplay based on the life of Cus D'Amato, from a concept by boxing trainer Kevin Rooney and written by Dianna Lefas.
Confusing the Enemy:The Cus D'Amato Story, is a biographical novel by Dr. Scott Weiss and Paige Stover that attempts to chronicle the entirety of Cus D'Amato's life. Critics have received the book well, and it has also received much positive feedback from the boxing community.
Cus D'Amato died at Mount Sinai Hospital of pneumonia in November 1985. He was 77 years of age.