Atlas: A Son's Journey from the Streets to the Ring to a Life Worth Living

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9780060542405: Atlas: A Son's Journey from the Streets to the Ring to a Life Worth Living

"Of all the people who have affected by my life and influence the choices I've made, none has been more important than my father." So begins the autobiography of legendary boxing trainer and commentator Teddy Atlas, who grew from the rebellious son of a doctor to a man who embraces, and lives by, his father's values and code. In this gritty, spellbinding tale, Atlas recounts his fascinating life -- as a juvenile delinquent on the streets of Staten Island; as a boxer and Golden Gloves champion under the tutelage of famed trainer Cus D'Amato; as a companion to the dangerous, unpredictable Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, up until the day Gravano turned rat and brought down crime boss John Gotti; and as a trainer of champions and contenders, among them fourteen-year-old Mike Tyson and heavyweight Michael Moorer, whom he led to the crown with a win over Evander Holyfield. Equally engrossing are Teddy Atlas's accounts of training dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp for her successful comeback at age forty-two; his work with actor Willem Dafoe, preparing him for his role as a concentration camp boxer in the film "Triumph of the Spirit"; his journey to Poland to choreograph the film's boxing scenes; and his own performance in movies such as "Play It to the Bone," In sharing his stories, Atlas reveals the philosophy by which he lives. Like Teddy Atlas -- inimitable, tough, honest, and wise -- this book inspires. It is about so much more than boxing. It is a story of overcoming hardships, of compassion for those in need, of tremendous personal integrity, and of personal and professional triumph.

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Review:

Boxing commentator and former trainer Atlas describes a youth spent looking for love and recognition in all the wrong places, until he found it inside the ropes. In his heyday, the author was known in boxing circles as a trainer's trainer who gave his charges the hand skills and, more importantly, the head skills they needed to be champions. He came by those skills the hard way. As a boy, starved for his parents' attention, Atlas took the low road: dropping out of high school, street-fighting, taking to petty crime. He did a short stint in prison. Then he caught a break. Released from jail, awaiting trial, he got a job working at Cus D'Amato's legendary Catskills training camp. Prison had taught Atlas about fear; everyone feels it, and it can be harnessed as a positive asset, he writes. Boxing camp taught him about discipline. Not that he didn't occasionally slip back into his bad behavior, which provides much color here-after all, this is a book about confronting your weaknesses. In a voice shorn of pretense, both edgy and polished, Atlas describes trying to instill his brand of integrity in his fighters, a bunch of young men who had their share of emotional problems. He had to teach them to honor themselves, in particular not to cave during rough moments in or out of the ring. If they did, he told them, they would hurt more the next day than they ever would from immediately confronting the problem at hand. This demanding ethos cost Atlas more than one fighter and some significant paydays, but he also won world championships and a sterling reputation. He may soon be even better known as a talented boxing anecdotist. A work of cumulative, powerful impact: This author doesn't allow anyone, readers included, to evade life's tough questions. (Kirkus Reviews)

About the Author:

Teddy Atlas works as a color analyst on ESPN's Friday Night Fights and was boxing commentator for NBC's coverage of the Olympic games in Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004). He is also founder and chairman of the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, named for his father, which has raised and donated more than one million dollars to individuals and organizations in need.

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