Mike Tyson holds the record as the youngest boxer to have won a heavyweight title but footage from his amateur days paints an interesting picture of a boy short on confidence.
The video from the early 1980s shows Tyson alongside trainer Teddy Atlas taking a moment outside before a fight to let out some of his nervous energy and talk through his worries.
Atlas is quick to comfort his teenage sensation throwing an arm around the boy that would go on to become ‘the baddest man on the planet’, telling him repeatedly to relax.
In the footage, Atlas tells Tyson: “Mike, don’t leave Denver now, come on.
“Relax, you’ve done it already 20 times, you’ve done it in the gym with better fighters than you’re gonna fight here.
“You have confidence because it always comes off on your side, you’re always better than everyone you get in with, right?”
After soothing the young Tyson, Atlas tells his man: “Alright, let’s go get ready for a fight, come on!”.
At this point, it is clear that a switch flips in Tyson’s head and he becomes focused on the fight ahead, shadowboxing his way inside, getting pumped for the occasion.
Once in the ring, Tyson shows the qualities that would enable him to go on to become one of the most feared heavyweight champions of all time with a series of devastating body blows and hooks on the inside.
His opponent’s corner calls a day on the punishment at just 35 seconds by throwing in the towel and a visibly jubilant Tyson has to be reminded to be respectful by Atlas during his celebrations.
In a voice-over on the footage, Atlas explains the fragility of Tyson’s mindset around this time: “Maybe God gave him such a strong body, he’s gonna have to become strong in other ways on his own.
“He’s a little bit of a weak personality, he’s easily misled.
“He needs love, he needs a boost you know? He needs confidence and someone to be there with him.”
Tyson would, of course, go on to become one of the sports most feared competitors but also a flawed character which somewhat undermined his legacy.
Maybe something within this footage of Tyson the boy goes some way to explaining Tyson the man.
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