Paying tribute to Teddy Atlas
I recently watched an extended interview with veteran trainer and mentor Teddy Atlas.
Watching this interview made me think about how little Atlas is mentioned in UK circles, especially amongst young fight fans.
That’s why I think a nod of appreciation is in order, to pay tribute to a true boxing tough guy.
Teddy started his training career at the famed Catskill Gym in New York, under the tutelage of Cus D’Amato. During this time, Atlas worked with a young Mike Tyson before a well-documented bust-up involving a .38 calibre handgun put an end to Atlas’s time at Catskill.
It’s this relationship with Tyson that he is most famed for.
However, there is much more to Teddy Atlas than a one-time bust-up with a heavyweight Hall of Famer.
He is a man of iron principle who has no doubt been passionately outspoken at times, And, he certainly packs one hell of a resume when it comes to world champions.
In the interview with Patrick David Bet, Atlas recalls a wayward youth.
As a troubled teen, he left the safety of his home in a wealthy part of Staten Island, opting to spend his time street fighting and engaging in criminal activity.
On one occasion, following his release from Rikers Island prison, he was slashed across the face with a knife. This encounter left him needing over 400 stitches and the distinctive scar that is visible down the left side of his face.
Making the move to mentor
His father, a doctor whose respect he feverishly tried to earn, then paid $50 a week for him to spend time at Catskill gym.
Following a successful amateur boxing career, which culminated in a Golden Gloves championship, Atlas’ hopes of turning pro were scuppered by a back injury.
Never one to give up, he was mentored by Cus in the art of training fighters. Atlas worked closely with their schools to ensure that they received education both in and out of the ring.
Part of Atlas’ issue with Mike Tyson in the early days was that, due to his incredible skills, Cus allowed him to cut corners with education and failed to back Atlas with his discipline.
Always a fiercely proud man, Teddy’s drive and unapologetic stance on work ethic is a trait that has followed him throughout his career as a trainer and broadcaster.
Atlas was just 21 years old when he began working with WBC champion Wilfred Benitez as a trainer. Across the decades has worked with 18 world champions including Barry McGuigan, Timothy Bradley, Alexander Povetkin and Michael Moorer.
In fact, it was Atlas’ infamous corner work in Michael Moorer’s world title challenge that made headlines for him in 1994.
Teddy’s top fight tactics
In between rounds, Atlas spurred Moorer on. Relentlessly saying “You’re going to cry afterwards” and “start doing what we trained to do or don’t come back to this f**king corner”. Tactics that most say made the difference in Moorer beating Evander Holyfield to become heavyweight world champion.
Teddy took periods of semi-retirement from training world level boxers and became a regular face on ESPN fight nights. But he could never quite move away from using his gift to inspire.
He is very particular about choosing his students, and certain characteristics appeal to him more than others.
Teddy has opted to work with fighters who hold will above skill in their arsenal. His recent work has been with former WBC champion, Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Atlas coached Gvozdyk to beat Adonis Stevenson for the title and in his unsuccessful unification fight against Artur Beterbiev.
If readers do nothing else after reading this article, I implore you to at least watch Timothy Bradley’s 2015 fight against Brandon Rios. And observe the way Teddy Atlas motivates Bradley throughout.
There is no doubt that I could write a thesis on his fight punditry, motivational roles and younger years. But for now, I will simply give a nod of appreciation to Hall of Fame trainer, Teddy Atlas.
If you want to train like one of Teddy’s fighters, try a work out with the Cleto Reyes Boxing Round Punch Cushion.