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The following is a conversation with Teddy Atlas, a legendary and at times controversial boxing trainer and commentator. When I was going to this conversation with Teddy, I was ready to talk boxing styles, matches, techniques, tactics and his analysis of individual fighters like Mike Tyson, Michael Moore, Klitschko's, Usyk, Pavekin, Lomachenko, Triple G, Canelo, Mohammed Ali, Sugar, Leonard, Hagler, Duran, Floyd, and on and on and on. Like I said, I came ready to talk boxing. But I stayed for something even bigger. The shakespearean human story of Teddy Atlas, customato and Mike Tyson. It's a story about loyalty, betrayal, fear and greatness. It's a story where nobody is perfect and everybody is human. To summarize, in the early eighty s young trainer Teddy Atlas worked with his mentor customato in training the young boxing prodigy, now a boxing legend, Mike Tyson. Mike was a troubled youth, arrested over forty times and at age fifteen he was sexually inappropriate with Teddy's eleven year old niece. In response to this, Teddy put a thirty eight caliber handgun to Tyson's ear and told him to never touch his family again or he would kill him if he did. For this, custom auto kicked Teddy out.


Why? Well, that's complicated. In part, I think to help minimize the chance of Mike Tyson, who cuss, legally adopted, would be taken away by the state and with him the dream of developing one of the greatest boxers of all time. Of course, that summary doesn't capture the full complexity of human nature and human drama involved here. For that, you have to listen to this conversation. The things said and the things left unsaid, the pain in Teddy's voice, the contradictions of love and anger that permeate his stories and his philosophy on life. Like I said, I came to talk about boxing and stayed to talk about life. This conversation will stay with me for a long time. The people close to you, the people you trust, the people you love, are everything. And if they betray you and break your heart, forgive them, forgive yourself and try again. Happy holidays everyone. I love you all. And now a quick few second mention of each sponsor. Check them out in the description. It's the best way to support this podcast. We got notion for team collaboration, babble for learning new languages, exprsVPN for privacy and security on the Internet, webs and insight tracker for health based on the data that comes from your body.


So choose wisely my friends. Also, if you want to work with our amazing team, we're always hiring. Go to lexfreedman. Com hiring or get in touch with me at lexfreedman. Com contact and now onto the full ad reads. As always, no ads in the middle. I try to make these interesting, but if you must skip them friends, please still check out the sponsors. I enjoy their stuff. Maybe you will too. This show is brought to you by Notion, a note taking and team collaboration tool. All the coolest kids have used notion for many years for notetaking, and those cool kids have grown up and started businesses and started teams. And I was part of teams that not just do the wolf pack of one type of notetaking, but an actual wolf pack where collaboration is acquired. Anyway, one of my favorite use cases of the Internet is that you can collaborate with people on written projects, and notion does this better than anybody else. Listen. They also obviously have Llms AI integrated into what they're doing. And it's not just about the power of the LLM, it's about how the interface looks like, how it's integrated into the whole writing collaboration process.


They do this really well with their notion AI tool. You can do all kinds of cool stuff, summers everything you know about large language models you can do here, but it's just interface wise, so natural and so well integrated. Notion AI can now give you instant answers to your questions using information from across your wikipojects, docs and meeting notes. Try notionai for free when you go to notion. Com slash lex. That's all lowercase notion. Com slash lex to try the power of Notionai today. This show is also brought to you by Babel, an app and website that I use for learning new languages. It can get you to speaking a new language in just weeks. We're talking about Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, all kinds of languages. One of the things I find fascinating is the power of language to express ideas. And also on the negative side, the barrier of language can serve as a kind of foundation or maybe a catalyst of division between nations or between peoples that speak those languages. And so to break down those barriers, most powerful ways for people to speak the different languages in all the ways that that means.


Fundamentally that means speaking with other people in those languages. And you don't have to speak well, you just have to try. But also you have to be open, listen, be present, be attentive to the music of a peoples that is expressed through the language. Anyway, you should take steps on that journey with Babel. Get fifty five percent off your babble subscription at Babel. Com Lexpod spelled B-A-B-B-E-L com Lexpod. Rules and restrictions apply. This show is also brought to you by an oldie but a goodie, a trusted friend exprsVpn. I've been using them for so many years, I wonder if I'll be on my deathbed kind of with a laptop or whatever, in a virtual reality thing, pressing that big sexy button that says connect. That teleports me immediately to a different geographical location in the virtual cyberspace. And I can watch programs I couldn't otherwise watch on Netflix and other, you know, it's just a basic layer of protecting your privacy on the Internet. Everybody should be using a VPN, and the one I recommend is expressVPN works on every operating system, including the coolest, the best operating system of them all, Linux. What flavor of Linux do you use, friends?


If the answer is none, then you should consider in this new year exploring the possibilities. It's not just for college. It's a thing you can do at any point in life, try new things. But no matter the operating system, it's Fast, just works well. What else do you want? Great. Go to expressvpn. Com slash Lexpod for an extra three months free. This show is also brought to you by insight Tracker, a service I use to track the data coming from my body and make lifestyle and diet decisions based on that. All right, you should be collecting data from your body. You should be doing the basic blood tests. That's what they do. And then they use their machine learning algorithms to interpret that data and give you advice. So it's integrating general population data and the data that comes from you to make to give advice. That's the future. And in the future, the more and the more data will be coming from your body, and then it will be able to properly locate you in the high dimensional space of what it means to be a human biological system, or just a biological system that we think of as human.


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Com Slash Lex this is a Lex.


Friedman podcast to support it. Please check out our sponsors in the description. And now, dear friends, here's Teddy Atlas. You wrote in the book that your father had a big influence on your life. What lessons have you learned about life from your father?


When you ask that know, I remember customato when I was with him up in Gatsby for all those years. He used to say to me, Teddy, you learned through osmosis. I believe there's truth to that, if I know what osmosis is. But it sounds good. But I learned through osmosis with my father. He wasn't a big talker. He was a doer. And when you're around someone who lives a certain kind of life and does certain things, it penetrates.


He was a doctor.


I'm going to sound like an idiot right now because I'm being a son, but he was the greatest diagnostic doctor. If I say I ever knew, what does that mean? You know what I mean? Are you a doctor? You know what I mean. What does that mean? But other people have told me this, like, just legendary stories.


He would do house calls and help people. And like you said, a lot of people have spoken about the impact he's had on their life.


He built two hospitals, and he built a hospital before the Verizado Bridge in New York, connecting Brooklyn to Staten island. And he built it so people could get proper hospital care. They couldn't afford it, period. And everybody looked at him as eccentric.


Yeah. Nice.


Yeah. Because he would literally sneak patients, not sneak them in. He was Dr. Atlas. He could do what he wanted to a certain extent, but he would bring patients in without administering, putting through administration, so there was no charge because they didn't have anything. They were street people. I remember being my only way to be with my father was to go on house calls or to go to the office. And so I went on house calls with him. And he did house calls, by the way, till he was eighty and three dollars. I mean, it was better than like McDonald's, you know what I mean? The deal. Three dollars and you got medicine, you got everything. But he used to, right around the holidays, there was just certain things that I didn't understand, but I understood later where we would just drive certain areas and he just all of a sudden open his door, he would pick up and I'm ten years old, move over, move over.


It's just you, him, and a homeless guy.


A couple, yeah, whatever he can fit in. Three, four, whatever it was. That's a big heart. And then he took him to the hospital, dropped him off, so I would ask questions after it was all over with. I'd say, dad, they're sick. He goes, well, not in a way. Well, you put them in the hospital. So he said, yeah, and he tried to explain things to me. He didn't talk much unless you ask him something that kind of works, and don't talk unless someone asks you something. And he explained to me that, I said, well, why are you putting them in the hospital? And of course, the sickness was, they were alcohols. But why you put them. It wasn't an alcohol rehab, and it wasn't for the purpose to dry out. He wasn't trying to cure them. Yeah, let's put that first before we anoint him for, like by Teddy Atlas. We finally get to the point, why you put them in there? Well, because it's the holidays. All right, why you put them in there? Well, the holidays are good for certain people and bad for others. And it was always before the holidays.


It was before Christmas, whatever, New Year's, whatever. So I said, why? And he said, because they remind people, certain people, of what they don't have, that other people enjoy the holidays because of what they have, family, whatever, and it reminds them their mind is that. That's pretty profound. Yeah, I don't remember because he didn't use the word suicide, but I got it, basically, I forget how he said it, but I just got it. I don't know how I got osmosis, I don't know, but I just got it. So they don't hurt themselves. That's what came across in every way. I don't think he ever articulated, ever verbalized that, but, yeah, they don't hurt themselves. How does that work? Well, just basically, they're going to be around people, they're not going to be alone, they're going to be around people, they're going to get fed, they're going to be warm, right. And it's going to be for three days, two, three days, whatever. And basically it's a bridge. The funny thing is, a ten year old, I want to be connected to him. So I enlisted myself in the job. When he used to drop them off, he would take them and get them in, right.


And then the thing that I know, again, he didn't say none, but you notice things, and if you care enough, you don't notice nothing if you don't care, but if you care, if it's important, you notice. And this guy was important to was, I didn't know what a hero was no clue. I love Mickey Mano. I love Willie Mays. I love Muhammad Ali. I never, ever connected him in my mind as heroes. Never. My father, I didn't connect it that way. But looking back now, looking back, he was my first connection to a hero.


The two of you ever talk about how much you love each other?


One thing that was not allowed. The greatest memory I have, my father, showing me love, was we were down in Florida at an airport. I was born in Miami. Don't ask me. I was passing through, and the rest of my family is born in New York state now. And so I was supposed to go back with him, right? And I wanted to stay with my mother for whatever reason. He, of course, conceded to it. And he's okay, whatever. And very quiet. And there's a man who never showed emotion to anyone. I mean, for the most. All of a sudden, he just turned, kissed me on the forehead and left. And I was like, that's different. Yeah.


You still remember that?


Yeah. That's weird.


You lost them thirty years ago. How did that change you?


It made me realize that some of the deals I used to make with God weren't realistic. When I was a kid, I used to make deals with God. Let me die before my father. And then you get older, you have kids, you're blessed. Why did you make that deal? You know what I mean? Thank you for not taking me up on it.






Yeah. You miss them.


I miss them in moments when I'd like to know what to do. And I remember when I would drive with him on house calls. He didn't listen to music. He was a guy. He read books to his. When he got older, he read books to bloodfells was broken. His eyes. He only read nonfiction books. Science. He loves science. Wars, generals. I mean, I cheated on a couple book reports because of him, because I didn't do the reading of the book. The night before, I had a freaking book report to put in that I got a book report to do on the war of Stalingrad. Really? The war of Stalingrad. And who the freak could tell you where you get an a? I got an a. I just wrote what he told me. Told me generals, he told me times. He told me strategy. He told me about the winter that came and destroyed the Germans. And the Soviets were tougher. Got a name. And the Soviets were tougher than the Germans. And Germans picked on the wrong opponent. I was already in the boxing business. I didn't even know it. I didn't even know it.


Matchmaking, very important. Yeah, they mismatched. They made a mistake with picking the opponent. And so when we would be driving in the car, my father would be in a trance. And dad, he wasn't ignoring me at all. He was just with his thoughts. He was wherever. He wasn't even hearing the radio no more. I always wondered where he was. I did. So I asked him one day, and just so we're driving, I said, I want to know. So I said, dad, what do you think when you're basically in this place that I know you're somewhere? Where are you? What are you seeing? I actually said, what do you see? And he said to me, I see what could be. I see what could be. And I'm like, oh.


I got to ask you. When did you discover boxing? When did you first fall in love with boxing?


When it saved me.


How did it save you?


I was a stupid, violent kid that was angry. Not exactly why he was angry. I'd fit in real good in today's society because there's a lot of angry kids out there that I don't think they know why they're angry. I was just out there getting in fights, and I got this stupid thing from that.


Can you tell the story of how you got that?


I was just running around doing stupid things, bad things. I hurt people, some people physically, but I hurt my family. That's bs. You only hurt yourself. That's a good way of alibi in it. But at some point, the truth usually finds its way. I'd like it to look like I was just hurt myself, but it wasn't, obviously. So. I was just out on the streets with kids that didn't grow up in a neighborhood. I grew up. I grew up in a neighborhood where father was a doctor. And I walked down the street. The funny thing was, down the hill was a very tough neighborhood called Stapleton. And most of the people down there on the corners wished they could get up to hell, and I wished I could get down the hill. So I went down the hill and I hung out with all these friends that became lifelong friends. And I gravitated to that because I figured out later a little bit, but I wanted family. We were disjointed family. My father was a doctor. He didn't have time for nothing but being a doctor. I think when you're great at something, you sacrifice something, too.


When you're really great at something, so great that maybe God made you great and you're too great for your own good. And I don't know, it took me to these stupid, dangerous places dangerous for me, but dangerous for other people, too, because I got to the point where I was doing robbies on the street. I was fighting everybody. And you know what the most dangerous part about it was? And I came to this realization on my own, all by myself. I figured out I was really as dangerous. These kids from the project, some of them, they got nothing. First of all, I learned you don't have to be poor to be poor. You don't have to be deprived of certain things to be deprived, at least to think you're deprived. And I was poor in a way that I didn't have the only thing I wanted, to have him. So here I am, where I'm out there doing these things. And what made me more. I was more dangerous than some of these psychopaths. Well, I was the psychopath, too, I guess, the way I was behaving. But some of these psychopaths that really had nothing, really, they obviously would kill you.


I was dangerous almost in the same way, but for a different reason. I know it's ridiculous what I'm about to tell you, but I figured it out because I felt it. I thought I was on a righteous path. I thought I had a right because it was going to get me, my father back. Why? I mean, you're a scientist. You couldn't figure this one out because all the people that had them were injured people fractured people, screwed up people in some ways, but hurt, damaged people. So if I get damaged, I'll get them. So I was on a crusade, really a righteous crusade, where I thought it was okay. I had permission. I had permission to do these terrible things, quite frankly, and to fight everyone. And then it came almost to a crash, doing all that, winding up in Rikers island like an idiot, not understanding the damage I did to this poor man, that he was a great doctor, and he's got to see his son and hear about, you know what I mean? Like, God. I was out on that day with the guys that I grew up with now, the guys from the projects, as I described.


And I was with one of them who, he's dead now. So I was with him, and we were in a neighborhood, the neighborhood we grew up, that I hung out and he grew up in. Billy, he came from the project, and we got into a thing where we cut. Somebody cut us off. We cut them off, jumped out to fight. And it turned out there's like five or six of them and two of us. And we fought right on the side, right there, only about a block from where I used to hang out and maybe a block and a half and right in front of like a spanish bodega. And it really does happen in slow motion. I actually saw the guy was fighting the guys that I had to fight. And then all of a sudden I was able to get one guy out of the way a little bit. And I noticed the guy go into his pocket. And I knew why he was going in his pocket. And when he came out of his pocket, I knew what it was right away. It was weird because in the neighborhood, guys used to hang out.


They get into fads, like right on the streets. And at that time they went to this cheap knife. But we thought it was cool. It was a seven. And the cool thing, whatever, was that you could flick it. And I learned how to flick, but I never carried a knife. But when my friends would have it, you could flick it open. Not a switchblade, but flick it with your wrist. And I was like, here I am in the middle of this freaking fight, and all of a sudden, oh, it's a double seven. You got to make a decision. And I got a split. I can either not do nothing, which didn't seem like a great, you know, a great option. I couldn't run away. Why not? Because you got to live with yourself afterwards. And that's more difficult to live with than whatever it is at that second, because that don't go away.


You couldn't live with yourself running away.


It just don't go away. That thing. Nothing to do with being brave. Yeah, nothing to do with being brave, really. It's got to do with just common sense in life that, for me, whatever you're dealing with, it's done. Okay? Deal with it, go to bed, whatever. But you do that. That other thing, you're gone. That never ends. This thing ends.


Memory of you being, say, a coward in that moment. That never ends.


The only thing I had at that point in my life, in my stupid mind, was a reputation that I would do stand up to certain things for me was worth something, whatever, because I didn't feel any worth to anything else. That was the only thing I felt, a connection of worth to.


Stood your ground.


I made a decision. Yes, I stood my ground. But things do slow down. They do. And I actually said, it's a double seven. He's got to flick it, but he's got to flick it. I got a split second. Either. Like I said, either I do nothing, whatever, or I get to him before he gets it. Flicked. I went to get to it before he got flicked. Just as I got close to him, I did him a favor. I walked right into a counterpunch because I cooperated with him. I went right to him. He practiced more than I did with the double seven, apparently, because he was like.


Anyway, what did you think? What did you think that happened? I was all slow motion. Did you think he might die?


Yeah. Well, not immediately. Took me a minute. I'm a slow learner. I put my hand up, right? Wouldn't you? I guess so. And it went into my face and that was it. It was gooey. It was warm and gooey and I was like, I don't know what this means, but I don't want to know. But I think I know. And.


Did you think about your dad in that moment?


No. You know what I thought about him was you don't know who anyone is until they test it. And I learned that cuss used to tell me, but I learned it. I remember one time I was a seventeen, eighteen year old kid up there and thought I was whatever I thought I was. And he said, you got a lot of friends. And I said, yeah, because I was on the street hanging out with one hundred kids at night, sometimes on the street corner. So I was like, I didn't know too many people that hung out with one hundred kids on the street on a corner on a Friday, Saturday night, and was like, yeah, I got a lot of friends. He goes, really? He said, how about if I told you you might not have any. Most likely you don't have any. And he goes, and then he just started this thing. He said, everyone's going to be tested. You, me, everyone. He goes, you don't know about nobody till they're tested. He goes, you know nothing. He goes, you know nothing until, you know, until something happens to test if they were really a friend.


And then he told me this story about a guy, a guy came to him and he was upset. What are you upset about? He goes, I'm upset because I just lost a friend after twenty years of friendship. We're not friends no more. So coach looks at him, he goes, let me ask you a question. What made you think you were friends with him? Now the guy gets insulted, the guts. Did you hear me? He goes, I just told you. Twenty years I've been friends with this guy. Why would you say that to me? He said, well, I say it again, what makes you think he was your friend? He goes, whatever happened in the twenty years other than chasing girls? Because figured that one out fast. Chasing girls and drinking together and whatever else you're doing out on the street. Whatever gave you the inclination that he was a friend? He goes, when did he risk himself to be your friend? When was it dangerous to be your friend?


When was the friendship tested?


When was it uncomfortable to be your friend? And you know what the guy said? You can figure it out. You're a scientist. He said, today. And today came for me. And today kept coming for me. Today and that day, my friend Billy had turned out I was fighting these, whatever, five, six guys. And where was Billy? He was on a roof. He was on a roof. He was on a roof. He was my best. So anyway, they take me to the hospital, and here's the thing with my father. But one thing Billy did do for me when he got off the roof, thank God he did. He dragged me into this bodega, laid me on the floor and started putting, right? And the towels, I vaguely remember this. They filled up with blood. I mean, completely, like, drenched. Like you put them under a shower. I heard the bodega owner screaming. Screaming, like, whatever. And everyone's screaming and there's chaos. And I'm like, I don't know, I'm calm. Weird. I'm like, real calm. And I'm just in this place, things calm. And all of a sudden, I hear Billy. He's screaming, call the ambulance. Call the know.


And nobody's doing none. Everyone's frozen. I'm starting to understand already. People get frozen in. Just paralyzes people. And I was going into a fear business. I was learning. I was getting a learning early phd. Yeah. And all of a sudden, genius, Billy. Genius, really. Street kid. He jumps up on a freaking counter, jumps over the counter, grabs the phone, calls nine one one says a cop's been shot, and forget about it. It was crazy. All I remember after that, I'll tell you a couple of things. I remember lights being put onto a stretcher, bounced around, rushed. I felt everyone's anxiety except mine. I had none. But I felt everyone's anxiety. Everyone's fear, like, was all around me. It was like, whoa, this is interesting. I know that's stupid, but, like, well, this is interesting.


Wow, you really have an eye for fear. That's fascinating. You're really studying it.


Well, I had no choice. I got introduced in a crash course, and they put me in ambulance. And this is what I remember. To your point. I'm sorry it took so long to get to it. I am. Although I'll probably do it again before this conversation is over. But journey. Yeah, we'll get there, pops. So I hear the cops say we might lose them. And I'm, like, laughing to myself. I'm not laughing, because again, I'm not John Wayne. John Wayne would have laughed, but I'm like, lose. You guys are know I didn't say that, but I'm like, lose me. My father's the greatest doctor in the freaking world. There's nothing to worry about. You people are all tight and whacked out here with fear, and there's nothing to worry about. Dr. Atlas is my father. So anyway. So they're taking me to the. And they say, we don't have time. I hear a couple things. I remember, don't have time. Take them to. And they take me to us public health hospital. Marina hospital was called at the time, but us public health. And it's in Stapleton, so it's close. Thank God. So they're taking me, and I hear them on the radio saying this stuff about, we got to move.


We got to move. And I start talking, and they're telling me, don't talk. But I like to talk a lot. Again, fear. There's no fear when the fear has been removed. It's the only time you're really free in life. And I know that sounds absurd, but really, it is. It's the only time you're really free in life, close to death. When you're devoid of things that normally hold you back, that normally influence you in ways that are not of the influence, that are always positive influence. Where you're in a pure place, where you're in a purely free place from all inhibitions, from fear, from anxiety, from joy. Joy can screw you up. And you're free from all these things. And I'm in this place, just in.


The back of an ambulance. You're.


I'm. Like I said, just get me Dr. Atlas. And they say we don't have no. You have to get Dr. Atlas. You have to get him. This was the. Damn it. This was so. You know what I mean? I finally freaking hit the number, and I'm not getting paid, and then all of a sudden, I'm out. I think it was four hundred. Two hundred inside, two hundred outside, or whatever.


It was a lot.


Hey, look, after fifty, the number doesn't matter no more, right? Or whatever. Sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety. Whatever. So I was fortunate. I was fortunate, and of course I was fortunate. They told me afterwards it missed my juggler. Literally, by a centimeter. Whatever. So then we wouldn't be having this conversation. Obviously.


I'm glad you made it.


Yeah. I'm kind of glad, too. And it just missed my eye, which, thank God, it's bad enough I have a scar matching me with a patch. It's enough that I got this freaking thing. And look, it goes all the way. It's pretty long. I don't know. I was out, and then somehow I sensed, like, they had the curtain closed. And it's amazing how vivid this is. And the curtains close, and I see a shadow. I felt a presence. I did, and I felt him. He's a powerful guy. And I felt him. And I just see, like, a shadow. And all of a sudden, the curtain gets pushed back, and I can't really see. It's dark. And I'm out of it, but not completely out of it. And pushes the curtain back, comes in, and his hand, even though it's all bandaged, whatever. But his hand surveys it felt safe. And it felt warm and safe. I was happy. And he got there.


Do you say something?


Yeah. Remember I gave you a little bit of introduction to my father? Right? You know him now? A little bit. Right?


Yeah. What do you say about the.


He just said, this is what he said. I remember to this day what he said.




That I do remember. I don't know if it was six or five people, but this I do remember. Yeah. He said, they did a good job. You're going to have a scar the rest of your life. And he left. Oh, man.


They did a good job. You mentioned customato, legendary trainer. And you also mentioned it turned out he really cared about you. In the book, you write about a testimony he gave, I was hoping I could read it. Because it speaks to your character. It speaks to his. It's just powerful. The testimony goes. Your honor, I realize you might not know much about me, but I've spent my whole life developing young men. As a boxing manager, I trained two world champions, heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson and light heavyweight champion Jose Torres. I've also helped a lot of other young boys straighten out their lives and build character. I know things about Teddy Atlas this court doesn't know. Things you won't find on his arrest record. This boy has character. He has loyalty. He'll hurt himself before he'll let down a friend. These qualities are rare, and they shouldn't be lost. He's made mistakes. We've all made mistakes. But I've come to know this boy. And if we lose him, we'll be losing someone who could help a lot of people. Please don't take this young boy's future away. He could be someone special. Let's not lose him, please.


Those are powerful words from a powerful man. What have you learned about life from Mr. Costamato?


He gave me a quote and he drilled into my head. I became his know he loved me. I loved he. He said to me, teddy, no matter what a man says, it's what he does in the end that he intended to do all along. That's what I learned from cuz rest of his bs. And a lot of people say things. You just have to give them a minute to let them show you eventually what they really meant by it. I also learned from him that everyone's afraid of saying another great saying. You'll get a kick out of this. Anyone who's in a situation where fear should be prevalent, where fear is actually necessary to survive the situation. Anyone who says that they're not afraid, they're one of two things. They're either a liar or they should go to a doctor, find out what the fix wrong with them. He was right about that. We live in a taboo society where that word, to a certain extent is taboo because it invokes weakness. You know, we. We are just layers of what we saw and learned since we were kids. We all are. We're products of those Layers.


I learned that on my own through some help. At the end of the day, you know, fear, people will find their way of avoiding that term. So they use the word anxiety. They use the word, you know, butterflies, apprehension, you know, a million different words. I find all those other words to be cousins of fear. Fear causes a lot of things in life. It causes a lot of problems and it also solves a lot of problems. Without it, we couldn't be great. If we are great, if we ever have a chance to be great, or at least to aspire to be great.


How does fear connect to greatness? That's a profound statement. Without fear, we wouldn't be able to be great.


You couldn't be great without fear because fear allows you to be brave. The most important word for me in this whole conversation, right neighborhood, would be selfishness. It allows you to be, for a moment, less selfish. One of the things I learned, I guess partly on my own, everyone thinks my greatest teacher was cuss. He was a great teacher, but mentor, my greatest teacher was my father, the one who never talked. And I realized one of the things to be better towards great is if you can submit less than we submit. See, one of the things that I'm afraid of, one of the things I was always quitting in my business. It's kind of not a good thing, every business.


I think yours is just more clear.


Yeah, it hurts more.


In the moment, at least.


Yeah, in the moment. You're right one hundred percent. Because some things hurt for a long time afterwards. And something like regret. Regret is the worst thing in the world. Because it's a solitary sentence.


That's a powerful phrase. Regret is a solitary sentence. You're full of good lines.


It wasn't easy to accumulate them. It was a little bit hurtful. Submit less. Because we submit every day, and if we can get to a place where we submit or compromise ourselves less, we'll get to a better place again. One of the words for me that attaches to things that give you, that wind up hurting you in life and have hurt me in life. One of those Boogeymen words is the word of convenience that's attached to everything. People disappoint you not because they want to disappoint you or let you down, or betray you, because they want to betray you. They do it because it's more convenient to do than the other thing. An old man once told me, he said to me, I was trying to rationalize something. I was trying to make someone an excuse for something. I was trying to make myself better than I was. I was trying to say it was okay. And he just looked at me and he liked me. And he said, teddy, there ain't no such thing as being a little. He goes, either you're pregnant or you're not pregnant, either you're real or you're not. Really.


Either you're truthful or you're not truthful. Either you're tough or you're not tough. Either you're committed or you're not committed. Either you're in or you're out.


That applies to a lot of things, including loyalty.


That's quite a statement. But the life level of humanity for me is loyalty. It's what goes through the veins of everything has to have some veins in some form. And if humanity has veins, what runs through the veins of humanity instead of blood to keep it alive is loyalty. Without loyalty, without loyalty, we're dead. We're freaking walk. We're vessels. I never understood what a ghost ship was. You know what? As I got older, I know what a ghost ship is. It's people. It's people that are empty. They got no loyalty, therefore they got no humanity, therefore they get nothing, therefore freak them. Freak them. And you know why? They don't have loyalty? Convenience. And you know why? Because it's hard to be loyal. It's actually hard. I'll be a son of a gun. You're telling me. Yeah, it sounds great. Give it to me. Give it to me. Paint me with it. It's great. Yeah. I'm loyal. Yeah, this is good. I'm ready. I'm on that team. I'm ready. Put me in, coach. I'm ready. Okay, now you're going to have to get hurt here. What do you mean get hurt? It's going to be painful.


I mean, to be loyal, you're going to be in danger because the person that you committed your loyalty to for a reason, because obviously he did something in your life, whatever, you're actually going to get hurt to be loyal to them. Hold on a minute. Wait. Hold on a minute, coach. Hold on. Call time out of here. Let me think about this, coach. I might need more practice. I'm not ready for the game. I'm not ready to go in the game yet. Give me a little more practice, coach. And it hurts to be loyal. It freaking hurts. But without loyalty, we're ghost ships. We got no strength. We got nothing. We got nothing. We got nothing.


I agree with you in a deep, fundamental sense, but there's pain that comes with that. I have to ask you to introspect on this part of your life because of your value for loyalty. As people know, you and Costamato trained young Mike Tyson and the interaction there between the three of you led to the three of you parting ways. Given your value for loyalty, can you tell the full story of what led up to this and maybe.


The pain you felt from? That's. I guess it was the second time in my life I felt betrayed. The first time was when I was, whatever, young, seventeen, and I got arrested. I was with all these older guys, tough guys, whatever, supposedly. And the detectives separated us. That's what they do. And they asked me, who did whatever, who's gotten this, that, all that particulars of obviously what we did, and it was me. And they said, you sure you don't want to change that? Because your friends changed it. And these cops, they were nasty, but they were cops the way you're going to wind up in Rikers and they're going to be doing this to you. And I won't even say the things because then why say them? Figure it out. But they're trying to get what they're trying to get. And you want to change it. No, but I felt very betrayed. And especially when I was standing in the cells looking at the airplanes leave LaGuardia airport and then hoping I was on one. I was making, like, a deal with God that let me be on one of those planes and let it crash.


I'll take a shot.


Was part of you proud that you didn't give up your friends?


No, because I didn't understand what proud was. I didn't understand nothing. I just understood that rules are rules.


You're just loyal, and that's it.


I didn't even know there was an option. I know the cops said you could do this, but there was no option. My father never had an option. But the betrayal, the private betrayal, was like. And so when Cuss, we were partners, me and Cuss. Cuss was retired. This stupid kid goes up there, and all of a sudden I start training fighters. First, I won the gloves. Cuz put me in the gloves, I won the gloves that I had injury, whatever. But bottom line is, I still want to fight. I want to turn pro. I want to fight. That was the plan. And Cuz had a different plan. Cuz was like, you can't. And he had it set up a little bit, whatever, without getting into it. Hey, he did me a favor, and I'd like to think he knew he was doing me a favor. And you know what? I do think he was. He was doing himself a little bit of one, too, but he was doing it for the greater cause, because he believed in this thing of boxing. He believed that it changed lives. He believed that it was worthwhile. He believed that there was a power to it beyond the left hook, the big picture of boxing.


Yeah, he believed in it.


Yeah. He believed that to be a champion, you had to be special. You had to be smart, you had to have character. You had to be a better person. And that you couldn't make a champion if you didn't make him a better person first. And that this could strengthen people, the sport could strengthen people in those ways. So he was married to it, and he was old, and he needed. There was no one in the gym. It was empty, and it was above a police station, which was crazy. And he needed an heir to the throne. He needed to pass it on to someone. And he saw something. And all of a sudden, he saw that my career as a boxer was less important than having me become his add to the throne and become his trainer, his man, his guy. To continue that, we could do a lot more for him and for everyone. Not just for him, but for everyone. It was more like to keep it going. It couldn't die. It couldn't die. And the cousin was afraid that it would die with him. And he committed his whole life to it.


He didn't get married because of boxing. So he saw me as the little bit of the seed to plant for more things to grow before that plant died. All of a sudden, he says, you can't fight. And I had people tell me that I could go somewhere else and fight, and I could, but I couldn't, right? Because I'd be disloyal.


Loyalty is everything.


Yeah. So I couldn't leave Cuss. And he kind of knew that I couldn't leave him. And he said, you have an ability to teach. He said, knowledge means nothing. He said, see these? Britannica. He had Britannica, encyclopedia, the whole set in our library. He said, you see these? Yeah, I see them all the knowledge of the world, whatever is in these, all right, means nothing if you don't have somebody to convey it to people. Otherwise it just sits on a bookshelf. It looks good because you have the ability to convey knowledge to people. You're a teacher. You were born to be a teacher. You'd lessen yourself by only being a champion fighter, because you'd only take care of one person. You could take care of all kinds of people, and you could do this and you could do that and you could do this. So we go on this venture. It took a minute because I didn't believe him at first. But finally I am. I'm there. I'm training fighters. And then he gets me to buy in. And I was a teacher, and I start teaching these kids, and there's no one in the germans dead.


And all of a sudden there's ten kids. Fifteen, twenty, twenty five, thirty five, forty five. Catskill boxing Club, which was never there. Now it's there, and I'm training fighters. I'm taking down the South Bronx to get experience. One of his former fighters, Nosa Cuevas, down to South Bronx. I'm taking down there to get smokers, to get fights when they're ready. After I teach, I'm wearing out dungarees. I'm getting holes in my dungaree. I was fashionable before it was fashionable to have holes in my dungarees. I could have made a lot of money with that, because I was on my knees with these little kids. Nine years old, ten years old, eight years old, twelve, thirteen, fourteen. All these kids. And I'm teaching and I'm building a gym. And cuz only came once a week because he was semi retired. And when he would come once a week, he knew he couldn't give me money. But he gave me more than money, he gave me praise. And he said, look what Atlas is doing. He's creating champions. And I was like, whoa, wow, I'm doing good. And then all of a sudden after four years of that, because I was up there seven years, eight years, eight years, after about three and a half, four years of that, we get a phone call that they got this kid in prison and try on prison from one of the guys that knew Cuss, Matt Baranski.


And there's a correction officer named Bobby Stewart who used to box and cuss had helped him out a little bit and they knew we had this gym now that was really starting to become something because we were winning tournaments and everything else they called over. We got this kid, Mike Tyson. He's twelve years old, he's one hundred and ninety pounds. He's a mess. But Bobby Stewart got involved with him, the former fighter, and he's taken a liking to it. And now where he didn't behave at all and he didn't listen to anyone, now he's listening because Bobby's got a carrot and the carrot is teacher boxing. And now he's at the point now where we want you to take a look, you and Teddy bring him down.


What did you think when you first saw Mike Tyson?


Well, I want to see his birth certificate because he one hundred and ninety pounds, twelve years old and all solid. Yeah. Really?


But, yeah, just physically, just as a physical specimen.


Yeah. And listen, cousin was right. I was a teacher, he was right. And he was testing me. Even that day. He said, what do you think? So I said, well, we ain't going to know nothing in the bag. Who the freak cares about that? He knocked the bag down. We got to put them in. We got no one to put him in that weight. I didn't have anyone that weight. We got to test them. Everyone's got to be tested. So you got to put them in responsibly. But let's put them in just responsible but let's put them in with Bobby Stewart, former pro fighter, had fourteen profiles smaller than Tyson. When he was fighting, he was one hundred and seventy five, but still he's twenty eight years old, Tyson's twelve. Come on. And he'll work with him. Right? So we do. We put him on Tyson. He recognized the moment. He understood this was an audition, this was a chance, this was that tv show change your life. And he understood that if he passed the audition, he could possibly change his life. He wasn't sure what, how could he be sure what exactly? But it was better than what he had.


And so he was on audition. He innately understood what we would want to see. Ferociousness, toughness, character, desire, and, of course, ability. Well, we saw the ability, power, speed. But it was unbridled. It was untaught. It was raw. He didn't know really much at all, at all, but we saw that. But he wanted to show more. He knew that wasn't enough. Again, innate intelligence. He had to show desire. He had to show toughness. And so I was being responsible. After two rounds, that's enough. Normally, I don't put a guy into box until maybe four months, five months, six months, eight months. It depends what it takes to learn on the floor before it's responsible to put him in a ring to actually take on incoming real live shells instead of blanks. Normally, I wouldn't have him in, and I knew after today, he wouldn't be in the ring again. If I trained him, I would teach him first, and then he'd get back in in a few months. But for this day, it was the only way. It's kind of like I used to make this announcement. Cuss loved it. He said, what's trading a fighter?


What do you look for, trading a fighter, Teddy? He asked me these ridiculous questions just to test me, and I say, it's like going to Macy's. He loved it. I said, it's like going to Macy's window. He goes, what do you know? Because it was like, boom, boom, boom. So what do you mean, Macy's window? You go to Macy's window, and they get the window with everything. You want to see everything in there, and it looks great. Everything. And then what? Well, then you ask, what's in the warehouse, and they tell you, that's it. That's the trainer. And I wanted to see what was in the warehouse because I saw what was in Macy's window. I saw the power, I saw the speed. So he goes two rounds, and he gets a bloody nose. Here's the weird thing. Not weird. Very telling. We knew what we were doing. Not bragging, but we knew what we were doing because he got a bloody nose because he got hit after that. Bloody. He never got another bloody nose. You know why he didn't get hit? Because he learned he was still strong, but he was smarter. Now, anyway, he goes two rounds, and I'm being responsible because if he goes more, it's not responsible.


I saw what I needed to say. I saw speed, I saw power. I saw athleticism. And I didn't believe him. I thought he was lying to me. I'm just telling you. I thought he was lying. Trying to act tough when he wasn't really feeling tough. It didn't matter, cuz questioned me on it afterwards. What did you see? And when I said he, you know, again, he wasn't paying me money, so he had to give me something, right? And that was better than that was currency. Young master. I'm the young master. Whoa, young master. You know what I mean? I felt like that guy kung fu, like in the movie, like kung fu. Grasshopper, when you're ready, when you could take this out of my hand, you can leave. That's powerful. Yeah, it was. It worked. Cuz knew how to work me, and he did. And it so. But you know what? I didn't mind being worked. I kind of knew I was being shuffled a little bit.


Well, you're making it sound a little bit negative, but it's also extremely positive. That's a teacher instilling wisdom into you that you carried forward, and it impacted a lot of people.


Yeah, cuz get the job done. But he did it his way, and he did it for a lot of myriad of reasons. But at the end of the day, it was all good. And I just had to understand that eventually, later on, and you do the same.


You do things your way and carry some of him in you, some of your father in.


You know, that day was funny, because when said what? Did you see Teddy with him? After two rounds, I got up in the ring. I knew I was going to train him. Obviously, we weren't going to say no. And he still had about four months to serve, and we were going to work it out. And when I got up on a ring apron. That's my gym. I'm the boss. People later on in life called me a dictator. You know what I said? Yeah, you're right. I didn't deny people. You mean I'm right? Yeah. I'm a dictator. I'm a trainer. I'm the boss. I'm in charge. You wouldn't be here if I wasn't. What the frick you need me for if I'm not freaking in charge, you idiot? Yeah, damn right. What do you think, it's a shared responsibility? No, it's my responsibility. That's why you're here. Yeah, I am in charge. You shouldn't be here if you don't understand that. So I get up there, and I know that I'm going to be training them. I got to show them who the boss is. I'm being really frank about this. So I get up there, that's it.


Out. No, let me go. I want to do another round. I want to do another one. I said, out. Did you hear what I said? Because I knew that he was going to test me. I said, get out. He got out.


But were you impressed with the fact that you want to keep going or not?


Yes. And I recognized what it really was. So cuz asked me, what was that? Cuz want to know what the young master saw? So cuz said, what was that? I said, it was an act. He goes, you saw that? Did he really want to go? I said, no. I said he didn't really want to go, but he knew that we want him to go. And he made himself ready to go in order to satisfy and that's just as good. And cut said, damn right it's just as good. All that matters was not how he got there, but that he got there. That's all that matters. That he got there. That he got to the place to act like a fighter, to do what we want him to do, to be ready to persevere, to go beyond the comfort level, to do another round. He didn't want to. Damn right he didn't want to. But he knew we want him to. And he knew in order to pass the test he had to do it. And he said, you're right. He goes, now it's going to be your job to teach him to make him a fighter that don't get bloody noses, that don't get hit and will get to that place without being coerced.


To get there, to get to that place on his own instead of using the things that he had to use to get to that place today. Those things are not going to be available one day. And listen to this. You talk about a man being prophetic because it's pretty good. You talk about man being on a job, on money. Lex, he says, how do you think he finishes? The sense he goes, because someday, because you're going to have to make sure that he learns these things because he'll be your first heavyweight champ. What did you just say? He's twelve years old. Yeah, he's been arrested thirty times. He's getting out of jail, out of juvenile detention. Tryon. He's a mess in a lot of ways. There's a lot of things we find out later, a lot of problems, weaknesses. And that's part of your job. That'll be part of your job. But he really said that. And then he turned to him, he goes, you want to come live with us, young man. You want to be a fighter? Yes. Even that said to me later, what do you think about that? I said, yes.


The way he said, yes, sir. He said, what do you think about that? We're talking. I said, ain't going to be that polite in a little while. Down the road, again, he knew that that's what he felt that he needed to project himself as to present himself, to get to where he wanted to get to. He goes, yeah.


Did you see what Cuss was seeing in terms of the heavyweight champion of the world?


No. Again, the easiest answer would be yes. Teddy. Genius. Wow. Teddy's wow. No. But again, it was my job and my job. It was simple, simpler than Cuss's. Cuss knew too much. I knew nothing. I just know rudiments of boxing. I knew what it took to be a fighter and how to execute it, the steps of executing it. So I took those steps, the rest of it, you get blurred by those other things. I wasn't blurred by those other things. It was just get them in the gym, make them mentally stronger, make them face things and teach them how to slip punches and create holes and fill those freaking holes with devastating punches as a cuss. And what are you going to do? I'm going to teach them to fill holes and fill them with punches with bad intentions. And that became the moniker. And then Tyson would say that, I'm throwing punches with bad intentions. Yes. You know, how do you make him mentally tougher?


So that part of the job, you said, don't get a bloody nose. But the part of the job, what makes him mentally tougher, how do you do that?


Most important part of the job, to make them face things, make them face ways. Lying to himself where he's submitting. What if we start this conversation with submission? Submit less. Submit less. Submit less. Every day. Submit less. Cuz only come to gym once in a while and if I had him sparring, he would come because that was the heavyweight. Now he know. Put life in cuz. Cuz had life. He was losing a little life, but that made the light bulb bright again. It did. And it was great to see. I felt proud of that. I felt connected to that. And that's why when it all went bad and Cuss took the side that the only side he could take, the side of the next heavyweight champ of the world. But he left me, his partner, the young master. And the second time I get betrayed and I'm like, for a while I thought everything taught me, said to me was a liar. I didn't want to be any part of it anymore until I got a little more mature and I got a little past that where I was able to understand. I was able to understand that just because somebody that you perceived as great in every area you find to be weak in certain areas doesn't mean that they can't still be what they want to you.


It's something that. It's something that can be understood or forgiven. It's hard. It's hard to get to that place and forgive somebody in that kind of way that I felt betrayed because Cuz told me the most important thing was loyalty. Cuss told me he loved me because I was loyal. Cuss told people that the reason that he went to court was because I didn't give up anybody, even though it meant put me in the risk of going to jail for ten years. Felt that he admired those traits. And so I assumed that he would show the same traits. And he took a deal. He took a deal. He took a deal. He signed the papers that those so called feds of mine signed. He took a deal to have the future heavyweight champions, it turned out, and to let me go, to sign the deal, to let me take the weight.


For people who don't know, Mike was inappropriate with a young girl and you pulled the gun on him. I don't know if there's deeper things to say about that situation, but why do you think hus made the decision to cut you off from both Mike Tyson and from Custom auto? Like to break that when he valued.


Loyalty, I served my purpose. I got him to the way he needed to get fort life back in the gym. If I wasn't in the gym at that particular time, Tyson never would have been in the gym. There would have been no gym to bring him to. When they called up and made that phone call to bring him to the gym, there would have been no activity. There would have been no boxing program, there would have been no trainer training them. Twenty four seven, the way I was, where Cuss wasn't capable of doing that at that point in his life. But then again, it's not poor Teddy. I get the benefit of a career, I get the benefit of knowledge. I get the benefit of a life. I get the benefit of learning, of becoming, hopefully, a better person. I get the benefit of being betrayed again.


But that's a hell of a statement right there. I don't know what the benefit of that is.


You can learn to forgive weakness when you realize how easy it is to be weak. And when you realize that somebody asked me, how did you get to the point where you could forgive? Right? It's a pretty good question. Pretty simple, pretty basic, pretty important, right? And I didn't understand. I understood, but I did understand immediately for me. I said, how can I not forgive somebody? It becomes easier to learn how to forgive when you're still trying to forgive yourself, when you're still in the process of trying to forgive yourself for all your own inherent weaknesses and betrayals of people like my father in different ways that we forget very easily because it's handy and it's a way of surviving. It's a lot easier to figure it out, rationalize it, to find forgiveness when you realize that you still haven't figured out completely how to forgive yourself. I'm still trying to figure that out. That helped me figure out how to forgive Cuss, because to figure out how to forgive me, I had to understood why I did these things, where the weaknesses came from, where the selfishness came from, where the convenience came from, that they really existed.


But they didn't exist for malice. They existed for me. Not being prepared to understand that I could be stronger, to want to be stronger. And then I looked at Cuss. He wanted to be stronger. But he got to a point in life where he had been strong for a lot of his life. He was strong with me. He was strong with a lot of things in his life. And does everyone deserve a pass in life where he got to a place where everything was in one basket, the basket of boxing? He once told me that he never got married because it would been selfish to a woman to have gotten married when his whole life was boxing that he couldn't give to a kid he couldn't give to her. And then I thought about it. He had no money, really, and Jim Jacobs and Bill Caden took care of the bills, so he didn't really need money that way. But what was the payoff for that kind of life, that kind of commitment, that kind of sacrifice, really? What was the payoff? The payoff was to have champions, to have a champion that would keep your name alive.


That word legacy, like, what does it mean? Sometimes it's just a word. Sometimes it's more than a word. It's a reprieve. It's a pension plan. It's being given a pension on your way out for the rest of your life, for your life. Wherever you're going, you're going to wherever you're going for eternity. It's the only thing that you take with you is what you left behind. And for cuss, it was all about leaving behind a mark, a mark of champion. Yeah, it was attached to ego, we all have it. Yeah, it was attached to some selfishness and all, but yeah, it was also attached to wanting to leave something great behind, to know that you were part of it, that you existed for a reason, that you sacrificed for a reason. And all that freaking pain I brought my father. I was searching for something. Yeah, I made it into a righteous search. I did, and I made it into. It was okay because it was righteous, but it still did damage. It still did damage. It still hurt people. It still betrayed my father's trust and cuz betrayed mine. But he didn't do it maliciously.


He did it out of again. My father came home, this is how I'm going to connect it. My father came home from work one night, twelve o'clock, and I was waiting out, and like I said, it was over nine, ten years old. And he got mad at me. He goes, go to bed, what are you doing up? I said, waiting for you, waiting for you. And he said, well, go to bed. I said, no, what were you doing? He said, I was at the hospital. Why were you there so late? He answered me. He said, there was a patient, there was a sick patient. I said, he must be better now because you're his doctor, because my father could fix anything. My father, nothing got in the way of the truth. Nothing. Even blown his son's bubble. Matter of factly, he said to me, no, he's not going to get better. He's going to die. So as a nine year old kid, you're a kid, you're selfish, not in a bad way, but you want what you. And I said two things. First, I said how you're his doctor, how it can't be. And then I said, I just said it, almost angry.


Then why were you there? Like you should have been here with me.




And you know what he said to me? Because you don't give up on life. Go to bed and give up on life. And I finally connected the dots. This idiot that didn't graduate high school, I finally connected the dots. I was asking cuts to give up on life. You don't give up on life. You don't give up on aspirations of life. Life is all forms of life. It doesn't have to be a physical form of it, it's life. It's having a reason to be alive. It's having a reason to have tomorrow. And Cuss's only reason to have tomorrow was to have another heavyweight champ and Teddy Atlas. Even though we were together all those years and we were partners and we trained together and the only thing we didn't do was what they did in the indian movies where they cut the finger and they became blood brothers. That's the only thing we didn't do. And I felt like we did that without cutting. And now here we are and he freaking betrayed me. And then all of a sudden I connected the dots. I was like, he didn't betray me in that cold sense.


He didn't give up on.


Years later, Mike Tyson apologized to you. What's meaningful to you about that? How does that fit the story?


I want to be the great gracious guy right now. Say, oh, I'm so human that a man's man enough to say sorry. That's it. We're good. I want to be really, that's the best presentation of Teddy Atlas I could put out there. He's a good guy. He forgives. He's a good guy. He's a stand up guy and he's a good guy. I'm not sure if he truly did it for himself, that he really did it, because he felt that it was true. But if he's persuaded by other things, he was in the middle. I know I'm taking it too deep. I know it, but what am I going to do? He was in the middle of twelve steps with the getting out of drugs, alcohol. Twelve steps, which is a commemorable day, really, it is. And he's taking the steps. And part of the steps was to admit or to apologize to all people you offended in life. Okay, but are you doing it for the twelve steps or are you doing it because you really, truly have come to terms with believing what you did? Was that hurtful to me and that it matters to you that it was that hurtful to me and that you were wrong in doing it?


Did you do it for. I know that's deep. I know that I'm a freaking idiot. You should be better than that. He's better than you. Yeah, maybe he is better than me. Maybe he is. Really, seriously, maybe he is. And I took it. He put his hand, I took it, we hugged. He said, I love. Yeah, but I want to believe. But what did cuss? Tell me, no matter what a man says, is what he does in the end that he intended to do all along. So to this day, today, was it really genuine or was it reflexive of that moment for him to get what he needed for that step? Or was it truly for what I needed that he really cared, that what he did to me caused me to do what I did because I did something that was pretty damn bad to him, too. Is he able to deal with that and put that where it has to be put? Is he able to put that, or is it just he did something he had to do, and maybe he's sorry he did it? Look, I appreciated that. I would have rather been in a private place.




So what people don't know. You were in the middle of commentating a fight, and he walked up from behind you and he said he was sorry. He shook your hand, gave you a hug. I didn't know. He said, I love you.


Yeah, he's emotional. I get emotional a little bit, too, but he's emotional. I can see why people have a fascination in a love affair with him right now, because he was the media. The meteor that went across the sky that if they didn't see it, their parents told him about it. There was a meteor that came across the sky one day, and the media is walking around in the room now, and that's the meteorite. And then it actually landed here. And that's it right there. And now he's come a long way, and now he's more human, and he's lovable and compassionate, and he cries. And I get the fascination. I get the love affair. I get it because inherently, we're people that want to forgive. We're people that we want to be good. And part of being good is to forgive people and to show compassion to people. And when somebody's been damaged, to acknowledge they've been damaged, to acknowledge that you know, they've been damaged and you care about them being damaged. And how do you show care? Through admiration, in some ways, almost through adelation. And he's getting adelation from people, which is to an incredible level, and it's a phenomena.


But I get it. I understand it, and I don't know if he gets it. I don't know if underneath all of this, he's a complex guy, he's a sensitive guy. I don't know. And I am, too, one complex guy.


Talking about another complex guy.


I don't know if underneath it all, where he's really, truly at. As far as that day that he said that to me, is there part.


Of you that's sorry to Mike for I'm not sorry. Pulling the gun on him.


Yeah. And listen, that's fair. I know dimensions of human nature too well to not know that he still has to have certain, because I have those strong feelings. What? It's not fair for him to have them? Damn right it's fair. Now he could look at it if he was to be held to his word that night that he just acknowledges that what happened he deserved because of the position he put me in. And he put himself in what he did, and I wouldn't change nothing.


Still, you don't regret pulling the gun on him?


I regret that I had to. Yeah, I regret very much that I had to. That I regret very much he crossed the line. I hated him for putting me in that position. How dare he think that somebody's feelings are that trivial? That the way I would feel about myself and the way the girl would feel about herself that was eleven years old at the time, how she would feel about herself. How dare he think it's that trivial that I shouldn't be ready to freaking to both die and kill for that? Why didn't Customato see it in a.


Deeper way and talk through it?


The word came back to me. But of course, what does it mean? But the word came back to me that Cuss said, you were right. But if he took the side of Teddy, he would destroy potentially a great fighter.


Why do you think that? Okay, if you were to try to understand the point he was making, why is that true? Isn't the part of greatness that you said is building the character of knowing what is right?


Because he was afraid to go there where he used to not be afraid? Because it's kind of like you're never afraid of going up. And I get it. When I train a fighter now, if I come out of retirement, I train a fighter now, I feel in camp like, I feel like I'm on death row every day that if every day I try to retrace my memory and say, did I feel this way when I was younger? I don't remember feeling this way. I feel every day a dreadful feeling that if I don't get this right, I betrayed everything. I betrayed the fighter's trust. I betrayed what I'm supposed to be. And then one day I tried to figure it out. Why do I feel this way? It's so intense. I was in camp for two months training a guy for the world title a couple few years ago, fighting the hardest puncher in the world at the time, and Adonis Stevenson. And the fighter was, I was brought in to train him for that fight and he trusted me and changed his whole style. Trusted me. Oh, my God. I went to bed every night, like praying dread waking up.


Dread my stomach down to here saying, what if I fail him? What if everything that I told him was going to happen, don't happen? What if I fail him? What if he trusted me and I betrayed that trust? And the thing was with Cuss was he used to be stronger than that. And then I tried to figure out why I got this way and why it was so dreadful to me and why I felt like I was on death row every day training a fighter. Like, did I do enough? Did I do right? Will we accomplish what I promised him we would accomplish? Would I keep my word? And then I started thinking, how did I become this week? How did I freaking become. I was a pretty strong freaking guy. How did I become this week? And then finally, I think I figured it out. You know why? Because I was always working to get up. But once I finally got up, now I was looking down, and I finally hit me. I said I didn't want to lose. I said there was nothing to lose on my way up. Now, all of a sudden, there's something to lose when you're up there and you're looking down.


That's where he was, and that's where Cuz was.


Cuss was at the end of his rope. He accomplished two world champs, all this stuff, right? Everything. And he did it. Right now, all of a sudden, it wasn't about moving forward. It was about not falling down. Holy cow. I was like, I got it, Cuss. I got it. I got it. You didn't want to fall down. Oh, my God. You didn't want to fall. And this was his last chance. You don't give up on life. This was his last chance to live forever, to make everything he did worthwhile. To have the youngest heavy. It wasn't just heavyweight champ. You got to remember, he was the youngest heavyweight champ ever. And to have that, it was okay to die now. And how's loyalty to someone named Teddy Atlas gonna get in the way of that? That's a tidal wave. That. They ain't no wall that's been made high enough to stop that tidal wave. And now I'll stop myself. Yeah, there is. But it would have to be an awful big one. And you know what? Who are we to say that we could ever build that wall that big? Who's any of it? Who am I to say, do you.


Think if you were to put yourself in the shoes of custom auto, can you see yourself having the big enough wall? Or you would choose loyalty?


Now, if I answer the way I feel, then I'm making myself John Wayne again.


You don't have to answer then. I think loyalty is important.


No matter what a man says. It's what he does in the end that he intends to do. All along, I didn't make that up. Custody. When this all went down, those words came freaking echoing into my freaking ears. I didn't want them. Cotton doesn't help. And they Freaking kept coming into my ears. And what do you think? Still an immature kid at the know, I was young, still an immature kid at the time. What the frick do you think? My response was? You were full and. But I got past that.


Do you forgive, cuz? Have you found forgiveness?


Listen, I forgive him because he gave me more than he took away from me. What kind of man am I if I can't at least acknowledge that and be grateful for that? He gave me more than he took from me, and I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful for what I gave him, that I did give him something. And at that point in his life, a place, a place to still have test tubes and chemistry experiments, a laboratory where you could still create great fire. And I helped give them that. I was part of that lab and making sure that lab was there, and just that there was the existence of test tubes in the place, because you can't freaking do experiments without test tubes.


Now you're the scientist with the test tubes.


Yeah, I guess so. And I just hope that what I said earlier is really my thread through this whole thing. When you say, can you forgive Cuss? I'm still trying to give myself. And if I can have hope that I can forgive myself, I think that hope has to start with the power to forgive someone else. How can I ever forgive myself for all my failings and figure it out if I can't start and practice it by forgiving someone else for some shortcomings? And for me, that's the only sense of sometimes a very hard thing to make sense of. That's my north star, that's my compass. Cuss used to make me laugh. Me and him did everything together. And we get lost in the city, we get lost in the Bronx, and he get all frustrated, and he said, atlas, you're a great trainer, but you turn you around, you spin you around, and you're lost. And I said, me or we? Because I was the only one who would argue with him. And it was really funny sometimes. And I said, we or me? He goes, I don't go, Cuss, you're lost. I'm lost?


What are you talking about? And then all of a sudden Cuss. Couldn't give in. He just couldn't admit he couldn't give in. You know what he said to me all of a sudden? He goes, when I was in the army, if I had a compass, I could get out of the woods. I said, we're not in the woods. We're not in army. We don't have a compass. Don't argue with me one time. We're driving. I want to get back to Catskill. We just finished at the Bronx. It's been a long day. Visiting the murderous Inc. Houses and everything else that he took me through for the one thousand eight hundred time. And he would fall asleep. He was getting older and he would just fall asleep in a car. So what do you think? I went a little faster, right? Because before he went to sleep, he said, don't speed. So I don't consider myself. I try to be an honest guy and I try to be a freaking. But.


It was a five.


What did I say earlier? Try to do less submitting. Yeah. Really, in all faces. Try to submit a little less. Try to lie a little less today. A little less. Try to get stronger. Try to get a little better. So here we are and we're driving and all of a sudden he's sleeping. What did I do? Eighty, seventy five, probably did whatever. And all of a sudden he wakes up. You were speeding. I lie. No, I wasn't. Don't lie. I'm not lie. You lied again. You were speeding. Now, come on. This guy, you know what I mean? He's unbelievable. So I got to freaking. He's David Copperfield. I want to know the trick. I want to know how he freaking. He made this thing. How do you know? He goes, because I timed you. I looked at the post number and I'm like, what? I looked at the post number on the side of the road where we were, whatever, miles. And I never knew they even existed. I look and I said, yeah, there's little numbers.


He started timing and he goes, yeah.


He timed it and he looked, he goes, we couldn't have got from here to there in that amount of time unless you were going seventy five miles an hour. And I'm like, all right, I'm a smart man, all right, I'm impressed. Don't try to get the mileage, the mile per hour part right. It's enough that you got me. That's enough. Yeah. I said, and I'm not going to do that no more. He helped me in crazy ways where there would be times where I wanted to be where you wanted to be. Whatever, right? Convenient, weak, submit, right? And then all of a sudden, in my mind, Cuss was there with the stopwatch. And I'd be like, no. Where? I was about to say yes to whatever that particular situation was.


Somebody up there calling, hello? Yes, do.


Great. Thank you.


Just for the record, never had a phone call like this. It's hotel security. The question is, he asked me is, are you okay, sir? Are you okay? Are we okay?


I think so. I think so far, I can only go like, so far. It's kind of like that old joke where the guy jumps off the Empire State Building. He's falling down, he's going, eightieth floor, seventieth floor. Sixtieth floor, fifty. He gets past the fiftieth floor and they're looking him out the window, and he goes, how am I doing? So far so good. I don't know where it's going to end.


So Mike Tyson is considered by many to be one of the great boxers, one of the greatest boxers of all time. Heavyweight boxers. What do you think, on the positive side, made him great?


I don't know if he was ever great. I know he was sensational. I know he was the greatest mix of maybe speed and power ever. I know he was one of the greatest punchers from either side of the plate, left or right. There's been great punches with just the right hand, like Ernie Shavas and Deontay Wilder and Max Baer. I don't know if there's ever been anyone who could punch as good as he did on either side with either hand, other than Joe Lewis and a few others. I don't know if there's ever been such a combination of speed and power to that pure level that he had. And it was a pure level. I don't know if there was ever as good a fighter as Tyson was, where maybe one night he was great, where he wasn't tested, but he might have been ready to be tested at one night against Michael Spinks when he took him apart. Ninety seconds. I think I saw a great fighter that night. I don't think you can be great unless you have all the requirements of being great.


What does it take to be a great fighter? Truly great.


To not rely on someone's house's weakness, to be strong, to be strong on your own. Too often he relied on other people's weakness, whether it's by being intimidated or whether it's because his talent was so much greater than theirs that it was like putting a monster truck in there. With a Volkswagen. And the Volkswagen was going to get crushed. No matter how much horsepower the Volkswagen might have had under the hood and you put under the hood, it was going to get crushed. The monster truck was not going to allow it to be a contest and to be able to find a way when your talent wasn't enough. He didn't find a way when his talent wasn't enough. I'm not making statements if I'm not ready to put some know, like, if we were in a courtroom exhibit, fought. When he fought Buster Douglas. Buster Douglas matched his will and didn't get intimidated, stood up to him. He didn't do what most people did. He didn't submit even a little bit. Not that night he had in the past, but that night he didn't. Why? Because Buster had a secret weapon that night. His mother, Buster's mother had died a few months previous.


He loved his mother very much. Buster had always had talent. Big, heavyweight, talented, could punch, technically solid. He was all those things, always was. But he quit. In fights, he did less than he should have done. He never lived up to his ability. He gave in. He submitted. He wasn't strong enough. He never had a reason to be strong enough. When his mother died, he had a reason. Nothing could hurt him as much as his mother dying hurt him, Mike Tyson included that night. Mike Tyson could not hurt him as much as his mother had hurt him by dying that night. He had a reason to be strong for his mother. And he was strong. He was everything he was supposed to be and more. And he stood up to Mike. And Mike, for the first time, maybe ever, was in a fight where he had to overcome something, where he had to be more than talented, more than a puncher, more than a guy with scintillating speed, and he wasn't. And then that night got followed by another night with Holyfield. Holyfield wasn't as talented as him, as big, as much a puncher, but Holyfield had the character.


He was strong in ways that Tyson wasn't strong. He was strong in a way where he could find a way. He was willing to find a way. He's willing to go to the cliff to truly die before he submitted. A lot of stuff is just words. They're going to have to carry me out on the shield. Yeah, sure. Okay. Yeah. Until it comes time to be carried out on the shield. Sometimes there's people that actually mean it.


You think Mike didn't?


Well, all right, let's just say arbitrarily, I don't have his record for me, let's say it was fifty five and five. I know he had about five losses. All right, let's say it was fifty five and five. Right? A lot of knockouts. I have a saying. A fight's not a fight until there's something to overcome. Until then, it's just an athletic exhibition contest. Yeah. Who's a better athlete? Who's got more quick twitch fibers? Who's more developed? Who's in better this, who's more developed in those physical areas? But a fight is not a fight until there's something to overcome. Okay? So if you go by my definition, not Webster's my definition, which I think means something. Mike Tyson was only in five fights in his life. The five fights where there was something to overcome and he didn't overcome it. Now, I know people hate me for this, including Tyson. I understand. Hate me. Oh, you're a hater because you weren't with him, you didn't make the money, because this, because of that, because you got betrayed? I think I'm better than that. I hope I'm better than that. I believe I'm better than that. I'm not a hater.


I've broadcast fights for twenty five years on ESPN where there were some people in the corner I did not like and if they did a good job, this guy's doing a great job. And then there were guys that I liked and I had friendship. He messed up and we weren't friends no more. Friendship got to be tested. Remember that? So we weren't friends no more. But why did I do that? Because it was my job. It was more important for me. When it's all over with, the only thing you're left with is we're going to be dust. All of us, right? The only thing we're left with is what carries on. Our reputation, legacy, whatever that is. But our reputation. That's all we're left with. And that's all our kids are left with. I want it to be as good as it can be. I've always had an ability. I've done a lot of things wrong and I've had a lot of lackings. But the one strength I've had, if I had a strength, is to understand somehow, through osmosis, I guess, to learn the lesson that was important is not what's in front of you for those five seconds, for that moment in life.


It's what's left behind you when those five seconds are gone, whatever it is that you're dealing with, whatever that moment is, that moment, what you do in that moment, the action of that moment is going to stay with you and be you. It's going to become you. What you face for that moment, it's gone. It's gone in the air in an instant, it's gone. It's done. Whether you stand up there and you get shot in the head and the guy freaking blows your brains out, or you stand up here or you're fighting a guy who's, like, an unscary guy to fight, but you fight him and you beat him or he beats you up. But how you represented yourself in that moment is all that matters. That's going to live. What happened don't matter. It don't matter that you got shot in the head. I know that sounds absurd, but if you believe that it was important to stand up and take the chance to get shot in the freaking head rather than to live like an empty vessel, you know what? That's all that freaking matters. And somehow that got freaking wrapped into this freaking head of mine, like, that's what matters.


That's all that matters. You know how many times I went and there were things, whether it was with this one, with Tyson, with that. I didn't want to be there. I was scared to death, but I was more scared. I was more scared living with regret. How I would have felt.




I don't want to be in solitary confinement the rest of my life with that freaking guy in the cell next to me called regret. I don't freaking want to be next to that guy. If I want to freaking go down that road, I'll watch Papillon. You know what I mean? And I'll get my fill from that, but I don't want to freaking live it. I'm afraid of what my children would think of me if I fail in those areas. Why? Because that's forever. When I'm closing my eyes for the last time, I don't want to have that fear. I don't want to have that fear whether I'm going down there or whether I'm going up there. I laugh because I was around guys years ago that used to when we talk about know and we get a kick out of this one guy who've been around the block a few times, when he say, hey, Teddy, I ain't worried about that. I got friends in both places.


That's a good.


Was a. I thought it was good. Listen, Mike Tyson, you want me to say he was a great fighter, then you want me to portray what I really. You know what I mean? You want me to do that. I ain't doing it for, listen, I could do it to be a bigger Teddy atlas. And I know it would work for me. I know it would do great promotional work for me. I know it would make me more popular in certain area. I know it. I'm not that dumb. Not that dumb. But I also know what else it would do to me and I don't want it to do that to me. I think he was a great talent. I think maybe the night with Michael Spinks, maybe the night with Mike, maybe he could have been that fighter, but he didn't never really get tested, but he might have been ready no matter what to be tested that night. That's how good he was. That's how. Even though it was a guy who used to be a light heavyweight, I get it. But we're still a guy who beat Larry Holmes, who still has something, Michael Spinks, so.


And a great puncher and an Olympic gold medalist and a special fighter, one of the great light heavyweights of all time. You know what Mike Tyson was? He was a meteor. He was a meteor that struck across and not too many meteors. And we still talk about him. And unlike Haley's comet, he came back and he's walking around and he has become greater after his career, more loved, more beloved, more awed. And he's been forgiven. He found the fountain of forgiveness. I don't know, I wish I could find that where he has been forgotten for all his shortcomings, all the things that he may have done, may not have done, we don't know, only him and God know. But he's been forgiven of all that. And he's been not only forgiven, he's rised above it and above that and been brought above that. He's been brought to the pyramids of the greatest athletes in the world. And in every way as a person, as a fighter, as a historian, as a figure, as a celebrity, even a philosopher, everything. So I will take it back. All right, all you guys out there, you forgive me.


He's the greatest of all time. If you encapsulate all that, if you encapsulate everything, I just tried to describe and explain, if you put that all, he's the greatest of all time. Yeah, he is. But he still might be owing five in a record of fifty five fights in Teddy Atlas's book. Again, I got friends at both places, so I was okay. Wherever I go, I have company. Somebody there will like me. Despite me saying this, he might be owned by because of five fights where there was something to overcome which really defines a he. He didn't find a way.


Let me ask Teddy Atlas to introspect on the human nature. Here is part of the complexities of your feelings on this whole thing is that you know, to some degree that if you were coaching Mike Tyson, he could be truly know.


I'm going to cut you right off because you asked a million dollar question. I wish you didn't. But you did. You did because that's why.


When do I get paid?


That's why you get paid. I get it. You took the words out of my mouth. That's why you are where you are. And that's why, again, full disclosure, it's important, right? I'm going to cheat. I'm going to take some of Cuss's wisdom. All right, a little bit of mine. Cuss told somebody that if Teddy Atlas got his way, he might have been a better person, but we would have risked him not being a great fighter. Now, I believe, and I thought Cuss did, and I think he did up to that point in his life, that part of your strength of character made you a great fighter and truly a great fighter and part of that battle to be a better person, that fight, if you will, to be a better person, to overcome the themes, to be a better person, part of that fire you have to go through to be a better person, I really, truly bought into it and I'm in for life. That is really the only way to be a great fighter. And I don't think that's what Cuss meant. I think he meant that Cuss knew more than I did of what was about to come and what would come and what the world was, how people would try to steal him, how people would take him, how people would steal his guy.


The last thing he had, really the thing that he lived for, because he lived to have another heavyweight champ, the greatest fighter ever. Cuss. And Cuss is mine. He could be. And I believe that Cuss knew that he could put forward a guy that had the ability to be the greatest fighter ever without fully completing the mission of what it takes to really be great, but that he wouldn't be around to have to witness it. It. And that he's willing to concede that he might be dead in order to have eternal life, in order to have greatness, which Cuz does have greatness. And part of that greatness is attached to Tyson. And he deserves it. He deserves it. Cuz was a great man and I wouldn't be here partly without him, but.


That was part of the calculation.


I know that's deep and I know that's. Oh, God, I hate myself right now. But cuz he knew he was getting out free. He knew he was going to not have to be there. He was getting off easy. Oh, Teddy, how do you say someone's going to be dead? They're getting off easy. Well, I'll say it again in case you didn't hear me, all right? He was going to get off easy and not have to face where he came up short because he did his job. Because he put forward the greatest fight of all time. And you guys screwed it up. And he knew that that might happen, but you guys screwed it up and whatever, that's your fault. I'll tell you, Tyson would be mad at this. But that's on Tyson. How can you say that, Tedy? He loved me. I'm not saying he didn't love you, but he loved some other stuff, too. And I don't know if Tyson could ever come to Griff's light with that. And it's not his job to. But it's my job not to hide from it. I know cussing dimensions that other people just only think they know.


Did Cuss know? Did Cus know this about himself? Did he reflect? Did he introspect?


Well, he sent a message to me. Cuss sent a guy to me. My wife was pregnant. We were living in an apartment in Catskill on Coreskill Road. We went through all know and I was getting ready to move to Staten island. And we still were there for a little while before we know, after all this went down, he sent a guy to me, to the house, secret, whatever you want to call it. My wife, me. So I listened to him. Cuss said, if you leave, I'm a messenger, whatever. If you leave. This was in the aftermath of what? The gun, the whole thing. You gotta remember. Tyson was award of the state. He was put in Cuss's custody. Cuss was looking to adopt him, for obvious reasons. So he had control and he loved him. How dare I say anything less? I won't. But it made sense, too. But he was awarded the state still. Do you know what that means? There's rules. Means the state's still overlooking it. If he ain't living the right life, you got to remember, he came out of a jail, so reform school. But if he ain't living the life, he could be taken away from Cuss.


What's not living the right life? Well, he wasn't in school no more. They didn't know about it. He had some things that were going on. We won't get into that right now in school and different things, whatever. And he had his trainer put a gun to his head. That ain't so good. If a report came back to them that that happened, he would have been taken away from Cuss. That couldn't happen. Nobody knows.




I talk about a little bit, but never probably because why would I? I don't know. Why am I doing it now? I don't know. Because I am. Because it's now, maybe because it's now. I don't know. So he sent this man that obviously we both knew, and he said, here's the deal, Teddy. If no talk about this, wants it to disappear, basically you leave and he will give you five percent, his word. Can you imagine? He will give you five percent of Tyson's earnings for the rest of his career. But I don't regret it one bit because it wouldn't have happened anyway. See, that's where I could be honest with my people. Say, oh, stand up guy. Because I told him, shove it in that place and tell Cuz to shove it in that freaking know I was mad. Teddy, Teddy, don't get angry. Don't get angry. Are you out of. Are you serious? Get out of here. Tell him to go shove it. You know, my wife was, but. And then people like, why didn't you take the deal? It wasn't a deal. It was an escape clause for Cuss. It was an insurance policy that this kid wouldn't be taken away from.


And thank God he wasn't. I wasn't going to go and say nothing. They didn't have to worry about. Cuz forgot who I was. Cuz forgot why he went to court for me. Because of those characteristics that he said he loved and he noticed and that he admired. I didn't lose those characters. He forgot that that was me. He forgot who he was talking to. He didn't have to do that. How about. That's why I told him to shove it up his. Not because of the other insult. And then when people said to me, oh, you were stand up. Because it was around a little bit. It was around in the circles. And then when people, oh, stand up, Teddy. He didn't care about the money. I said, stand up, Teddy. What are you talking about? How about just realistic, Teddy? How about I live in a real world that I was never going to get that money, so I'm standing up to something that I knew never existed. So I ain't stand up. Not in that way, I am. In other ways, maybe, but don't put a medal on my chest for that because that never existed.


It was never meant to exist. But he didn't even understand. That was the one thing that really disappointed me. In Cuss. I was like, cuss? You really allowed this to get to you. You've allowed it to really fog up your thinking to the point where you're smarter than that, you're better than that, that you would actually think you got to freaking offer me a freaking pieces of silver. You really think that that's what you freak. You all that you told me that you love me and that I was the young master and all this, and you think you were going to buy me and that was going to keep me quiet? How about I would keep quiet because I would always keep quiet.


So he thought maybe you might betray him.


Isn't that interesting? Yeah. And why did he think that? No, really. Fear. Yeah, but, yeah. Fear is at the essence of everything. Is it connected with everything? Fear of losing what he was going to lose. But it was more than fear. It was him not believing in the things that he told me he believed in. He didn't even know that he believed in me because I was a stand up guy, because I didn't sell myself, because I didn't freaking turn evidence. I didn't make a deal. And that's why he went to court and that's why he stood up for me. And I appreciate it. And that was what he lived by. And those were the blocks of being a man. So much for those blocks.


Well, it's like you said, loyalty requires. He would have had to take a risk on losing immortality that he would achieve by creating.


And that's the only great heavyweight champion. One hundred percent. But the only way you ever find out if somebody is hard, it's hard is to test.


And it was Cuss, this is shakespearean, you know this story.


And your tests come in different forms. Yeah, I said, all right, cuss, this was his test. And some people pass this test because they're able to pass that test because it's not really a test, not for them, because it doesn't speak to their weakness. But it's the test that speaks to the weakness. That's the one. So this one, I get it. I get what it spoke to, cuz. You know what? At the end of the day, I forgive you. And I feel bad for you. I feel bad that you were put in that position after you lived your life that way and that you taught that and you preached that from the mountaintops that you had to be, that you had to be, I'm not going to use the word, but that you had to fail yourself and that you had to somehow know that before you died. I just pray that you didn't know that and you still don't know that. Because you were great. You were great. And you've given me some. You've given me something to aspire towards, to try to. Try to be less weak, try to be better and try to be as good as you want it to be.


I wish I can someday, more importantly, I wish I could make my father feel. Just feel good up there.


Your grandfather now.




For the grandchildren, if you can give them advice on how to live a life they can be proud of.


Just do everything you can to the best of your ability every day to like yourself, to give yourself a reason, to actually say, I'd like to be friends with that guy.


Is loyalty one of the reasons? One of the things to aspire to.


Loyalty is your chance to have a fulfilled life. Loyalty is your chance to have strength, to have all the things you need to have a good life, to be a good parent, be a good husband, be a good grandfather, hopefully be a good role model. Loyalty is. Loyalty is. If you could find something to drink to take into your body, to make you prepared for life, to be all the things that you want to be, to be strong enough to be those things, loyalty would be the thing you would drink. And when I say loyal, I mean unequivocally, I mean unconditionally, not conveniently. Obviously, you know that if you could be loyal, you could be a good person. You could be a person that you would actually like to be around, because you could be a person you could rely on. And I think that's one of the greatest assets that a human being can have.


And what do you do when you're betrayed? How do you overcome that?


You think of what you learned from it. Use it as a roadmap to remember and to think back of how you got there and how you got to the place where you got betrayed and how that person got to that place. Try to remember that in your own journey.


Has it for you. Made you cynical. How do you take the leap of trust towards people again and again after that?


Just by remembering that I'm still trying to forgive myself for the things that I came up short with. And if I haven't figured that out yet, it's probably okay to say they didn't figure it out yet. They didn't figure it out. And if I couldn't figure it out, and I'm still trying to figure out, maybe I could get over that initial stabbing of what it feels like. It does feel kind of like a stabbing that you feel when you're betrayed initially and that you could only think of anger, revenge, hatred and those things. I'm not proud of that, but I felt all those things and I still feel them sometimes. And then I go back and say, hey, you're still working at forgiving yourself for some things. Try to remember that, kid. Memory is an important thing. Forgetfulness is pretty important, too. And try to remember why we forget. Why do we forget? Because it wasn't something you felt proud of.


You think about your death. Are you afraid of it?


It's funny you asked that. I never used to think about it. I know people in both places, you know?


I know.


Got it covered. You're going to be all right. Don't forget that. I know people in both places. Yeah.


Both neighborhoods.


I've been. I've been given credit for being brave in certain spots in life. I hope I can be brave when it comes time to leave life. I hope I can be as real and honest as you can be about it. I hope I can be so far, so good. When I've had to be certain things that was scared to freaking death. I found a way to beat them for the most. So I figured when that day comes, I'll figure that out, too.


It's going to be another test, maybe the last one. Teddy, it's a huge honor to talk to you.


It's my pleasure.


Thank you for being the human you are, for being honest about the full range of human nature. And thank you for talking today.


Thank you. Thank you for having me. And thanks for listening.


Thanks for listening to this conversation with Teddy Atlas. To support this podcast, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now let me leave you with some words from Muhammad Ali. I hated every minute of training, but I said, don't quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.