Be careful how you fight your fights because they will determine how you live your life. – Cus D’Amato
Mike Tyson’s autobiography: Undisputable Truth is a story of paradox and contradictions. Tyson used self-discipline to become the youngest heavyweight champion in the world at the age of 20. Tyson grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn New York, in his words “A place where dreams are broken and memories are best forgotten.” He was a student of the game, groomed for greatness by his trainer and legal guardian Cus D’Amato. Tyson’s story shows what is possible, even if you grew up in a high-crime environment, was raised in dysfunction, and had low expectations from your family and friends.
Tyson’s life story is also a warning of how not to get carried away with fame, staying hungry, and the need to be deliberate in the kind of people you surround yourself with. At the height of his career, Tyson was making as much as $30 million per boxing match. He made over $400 million in his boxing career which spans over 30 years (1985-2005) but he filed for bankruptcy in 2003. Tyson was into the fast life, spending his money as fast as he could make it on luxurious cars, lawsuits, high maintenance houses, his sexual escapades, drugs, alcohol, and maintaining his expensive lifestyle.
Undisputable Truth is a great autobiography by one of the most fascinating sportsmen of our time – Iron Mike Tyson. He shared lots of lessons learned, mistakes made, regrets, how having the right people in your corner, his battles with women, sex, alcohol, and drugs. His attempt at recovery, reinventing himself, and doing the work needed to become a better version of himself.
Tyson’s autobiography contains loads of lessons about self-discipline, greatness, indiscipline, navigating fame, relationship management, educating oneself, mentorship, apprenticeship, dealing with fear, and personal reinvention. I learned more about financial management by reading Tyson’s biography than the 20+ books I have read on personal finance.
Tyson’s account of his life and career is funny, raw, vulnerable, and insightful. I laughed a lot as a result of self-deprecation and also teared up as a result of his situations such as the various account of his grief moments like losing his mum, legal guardian (Cus D’Amato), and young child, Exodus.
It’s amazing how a low self-esteem and a huge ego can give you delusions of grandeur.
Lessons from his Trainer – Cus D’Amato
- Be careful how you fight your fights because they will determine how you live your life.
- If you listen to me, I can make you the youngest heavyweight champion of all time.
Cus had given me a huge boxing encyclopedia to look at and I didn’t sleep that whole night, I just read the whole book. I read about Benny Leonard and Harry Greb and Jack Johnson. I got turned out real bad. I wanted to be like those guys; they looked like they had no rules. They worked hard, but on their downtime they just lounged and people came to them like they were gods.
“If you don’t have the spiritual warrior in you, you’ll never be a fighter.”
Cus D’Amato on Fear
The first thing Cus talked about was fear and how to overcome it.
Fear is the greatest obstacle to learning. But fear is your best friend. Fear is like fire. If you learn to control it, you let it work for you. If you don’t learn to control it, it’ll destroy you and everything around you. Like a snowball on a hill, you can pick it up and throw it or do anything you want with it before it starts rolling down, but once it rolls down and gets so big, it’ll crush you to death. So one must never allow fear to ”develop and build up without having control over it, because if you don’t you won’t be able to achieve your objective or save your life.
Consider a deer crossing an open field. On approaching the forest, suddenly instinct tells it there’s danger there, might be a mountain lion there. Once this happens nature begins its survival function where the adrenal glands inject into the bloodstream, causes the heart to beat faster, which in turn enables the body to perform extraordinary feats of agility and strength. Where normally the deer can leap fifteen feet, the adrenaline enables the first leap to be forty or fifty feet, enough to escape from the present danger. The human being is no different. When confronted with a situation of fear of getting hurt or intimidation, the adrenaline speeds up the heart. Under the influence of adrenal glands people can perform extraordinary feats of strength.
“You think you know the difference between a hero and a coward, Mike? Well, there is no difference between a hero and a coward in what they feel. It’s what they do that makes them different. The hero and the coward feel exactly the same but you have to have the discipline to do what a hero does and to keep yourself from doing what the coward does.”
Your mind is not your friend, Mike. I hope you know that. You have to fight with your mind, control it, put it in its place. You have to control your emotions. Fatigue in the ring is ninety percent psychological. It’s just the excuse of a man who wants to quit. The night before a fight, you won’t sleep. Don’t worry, the other guy didn’t either. You’ll go to the weigh-in, he’ll look much bigger than you and calmer, like ice, but he’s burning up with fear inside. Your imagination is going to credit him with abilities he doesn’t have. Remember, motion relieves tension. The moment the bell rings, and you come in contact with each other, suddenly your opponent seems like everybody else, because now your imagination has dissipated. The fight itself is the only reality that matters. You have to learn to impose your will and take control over that reality.
Cus on Money
“Money is something to throw off the back of trains,” he’d tell me. “Money means security, and to me security means death, so I never cared about money. To me all the things that I value I couldn’t buy for money. I was never impressed with money. Too many of the wrong people have a lot of money so the association is not good. The truth was, I wasn’t careless about money. I gave money to people in trouble. I don’t consider that wasting it.”
“Doing something you hate to do like you love it is good conditioning for someone aspiring towards greatness.”
PEOPLE WANT SOMETHING
“People won’t want to be in my position. ‘Wow, I can make money,’ they say. But if they had to go through some of the things I go through, they would cry. It’s so depressing. Everybody wants something. Just as hard as you’re working in the gym, people are working that hard trying to separate you from your money.”
Freedom is a very dangerous thing. We ration it very closely. – Lenin
All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.