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Thursday, June 30, 2022
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The impact and influence of Cus D’Amato


The impact and influence of Cus D’Aamato

More than any other coach in boxing history, Cus D’Amato and his legacy have achieved an almost mythological relationship. Much of this has to do with his eccentric personality, his in-depth understanding of the psychological profile of the athletes he has worked with, his unique product inventions, and his revolutionary, peekaboo fighting style. These are just a few of the methods he used to build world champions and a reputation for being one of boxing’s greatest minds.

The Personality
As a young coach and manager, D’Amato fought against the system. He would not bow to the boxing operations run by the mafia and not give in to their demands. Instead, he worked around the Madison Square Garden and spoke out against the International Boxing Club (IBC), which controlled most of the world champions at the time. He has earned a reputation for constantly “going off course” with his unorthodox training methods, business practices and management style.

The Psychology
Aside from an entire library of boxing books and magazines, Cus was an avid reader of the classics. He searched for every piece of information that would give him greater insight into human psychology, strategy or how history has repeated itself. His eclectic library included The Analects of Confucius, The Creation of the Universe, The Art of War and almost any form of literature that provided insight into the human psyche. He believed that boxing was an analogy of life and that all human instincts in the ring magnified.

These insights, combined with his access to Jim Jacobs’ extensive library of historical combat films, made him and his fighters extremely educated. This visual access to their predecessors, a sense of self-awareness and understanding of their personal potential are part of what made his fighters special.

The Training Method
D’Amato’s brand peek-a-boo style was aimed at creating a coherent flow between offensive and defensive moves.
By constantly having his fighters shift their weight from side to side, to prevent them from being hit, it also kept their opponents on the defensive. In turn, this defensive stance created offensive openings. The constant head movement, shift of body weight and change of position made his fighters unpredictable.

To be hit less, to frustrate the opponent more, while always staying in position to capitalize on openings, often gave D’Amato’s fighters the upper hand.

The training tools
There are two training devices that can be directly attributed to D’Amato. The first is the Cus D’Amato glybal. The concept behind this bag is to master the art of hitting and not being hit. He developed this tool to stimulate the movements he used with his fighters, including Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson, Jose Torres and others. He wanted their hands to be held high in front of their cheeks, elbows tightly pulled in and them to remain in a state of constant movement. It requires constant head movement, shifting your body weight from side to side and encouraging a fighter to always be in the best position to stop and counter.

The second invention he developed was called the “Willie Bag”, named after Willie Pastrano. D’Amato was working with Jose Torres at the time and was preparing to fight Willie Pastrano for the world light heavyweight title. The concept for this bag literally woke Cus from his sleep one night and he built it from several mattresses he had intoxicated from the bedroom of his apartment in the middle of the night. He finally drew a rough sketch of a man (Willie) on the bag and gave each punch a number:

# 1 = left hook to the jaw
# 2 = right hook to the jaw
# 3 = top left cut
# 4 = right top cut
# 5 = left hook on the body
# 6 = right hook on the body
# 7 = stick to the head
# 8 = stick to the body

This numbering system will be used to call out specific stamps and combination of stamps sequentially. The idea was to repeat these combinations so repetitively that it would become instinctive to hear and perform them. On command or by a natural reaction to his opponents’ movement, the fighter would throw fists without even thinking about it. Cus not only wanted to create boxers, he wanted to build “fighting machines”.

The D’Amato Legacy and Legend

Cus D’Amato added layers to what “typical” boxing coaches were up to that point. He was an inventor, a boxing psychologist, a historian and his insights changed the game. His philosophy, stylistic impact and approach have all created several offshoots and ideas that permeate the world of boxing. His boxing innovations (ideologies, equipment inventions and training methods) then worked and have a full circle to make today’s fighters better.

The D’Amato CV

  • 1952 Olympic Gold Medal winner Floyd Patterson – who also became the youngest world heavyweight champion in history at the age of 21.
  • Jose Torres – who has the distinction of being the first Latin American to win the Light Heavyweight Championship of the World
  • Mike Tyson – who took over Patterson’s record as the youngest heavyweight champion by knocking out Trevor Berbick when he was just 20 years old. He was the undisputed heavyweight champion from 1987 to 1990.

Buy Cus D’Amato Equipment & Clothing here.



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