Cus D’Amato - from Mike Tyson, Undisputed Truth – The importance of converting fear to become a hero
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Mike Tyson – Undisputed Truth
When I first started going to Cus's, he didn't even let me box. After I finished my workout with Teddy, Cus would sit down with me and we'd talk. He’d talk about my feelings and emotions and about the psychology of boxing. He wanted to reach me at the root.
We talked a lot about the spiritual aspects of the game.
"If you don't have the spiritual warrior in you, you'll never be a fighter. I don't care how big or strong you are," he told me. We talked about pretty abstract concepts, but he was getting through to me. Cus knew how to talk my language. He had grown up in tough neighborhoods and he had been a street kid too.
The first thing Cus talked about was fear and how to overcome it.
"Fear is the greatest obstacle to learning. But fear is your best friend. Fear is like fire. If you learn to control it, you let it work for you. If you don't learn to control it, it'll destroy you and everything around you. Like a snowball on a hill, you can pick it up and throw it or do anything you want with it before it starts rolling down, but once it rolls down and gets so big, it'll crush you to death. So one must never allow fear to develop and build up without having control over it, because if you don't you won't be able to achieve your objective or save your life.
"Consider a deer crossing an open field. On approaching the forest, suddenly instinct tells it there's danger there, might be a mountain lion there. Once this happens nature begins its survival function where the adrenal glands inject into the bloodstream, causes the heart to beat faster, which in turn enables the body to perform extraordinary feats of agility and strength. Where normally the deer can leap fifteen feet, the adrenaline enables the first leap to be forty or fifty feet, enough to escape from the present danger. The human being is no different. When confronted with a situation of fear of getting hurt or intimidation, the adrenaline speeds up the heart. Under the influence of adrenal glands people can perform extraordinary feats of strength.
"You think you know the difference between a hero and a coward, Mike? Well, there is no difference between a hero and a coward in what they feel. It's what they do that makes them different. The hero and the coward feel exactly the same but you have to have the discipline to do what a hero does and to keep yourself from doing what the coward does.
"Your mind is not your friend, Mike. I hope you know that. You have to fight with your mind, control it, put it in its place. You have to control your emotions. Fatigue in the ring is ninety percent psychological. It's just the excuse of a man who wants to quit. The night before a fight, you won't sleep. Don't worry, the other guy didn't either.
You'll go to the weigh-in, he'll look much bigger than you and calmer, like ice, but he's burning up with fear inside. Your imagination is going to credit him with abilities he doesn't have. Remember, motion relieves tension. The moment the bell rings, and you come in contact with each other, suddenly your opponent seems like everybody else, because now your imagination has dissipated. The fight itself is the only reality that matters. You have to learn to impose your will and take control over that reality."