Constantine “Cus” D’Amato (January 17, 1908 – November 4, 1985) was an American boxing manager and trainer….who handled the careers of José Torres, Floyd Patterson and Mike Tyson….all of whom went on to become world champions and members of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Several successful boxing trainers….including Teddy Atlas, Kevin Rooney and Joe Fariello…..were all tutored by D’Amato…..who 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…..which was a style that was criticized by some boxing pundits….because it was believed that an efficient attack could not be launched from it…..a premise that was completely obliterated when Mike Tyson matured as a master knockout artist right before our eyes in the ring.
At age 22, D’Amato opened the Empire Sporting Club with Jack Barrow at the Gramercy Gym….where he lived in the gym for years…..for according to D’Amato….he spent his time at the gym waiting for a “champion”….but his best fighters were routinely poached by “connected” managers”….with one such fighter that was discovered by D’Amato was Italian-American Rocky Graziano….who signed with other trainers and managers….and went on to become middleweight champion of the world.
Cus D’Amato also confronted boxing politics and decided along with his friend Howard Cosell, to thwart the International Boxing Club of New York (IBC)….as he was 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.
It is our opinion at ImaSportsphile that had the great Cus D’Amato lived to see Mike Tyson’s career run full circle….he might have been the greatest heavyweight champion ever….cuz that “lil lost boy from the Catskills” would have walked through a brick wall for his trainer, mentor and best friend.