The important skill young fighters should learn to be a champion

Mike Tyson Cus D'amato

Having speed, power, strength, and other attributes means nothing to a young fighter without the will to listen.

As we’ve seen with fighters like Georges St.-Pierre and Ronda Rousey, the kind of coaches and mentors you have could either make or break your career. Yes, you may be a talented and hardworking athlete. But having someone to help direct your talent and hard work will help you reach your full potential; that is, of course, if you’re willing to listen.

The best example of this can be seen in a troubled teen who, under the right teacher, became a living legend.

At age 13, a juvenile Mike Tyson faced jail time for more than 30 times. To stay away from more trouble, he agreed to enter a reform program in New York. Thereafter, he met legendary Constantine “Cus” D’Amato, a boxing trainer in Catskill. In Tyson, D’Amato saw a troubled teen without the guidance of a father. But he also recognized the youngster’s potential to become a future boxing champion. He told Mike, “If you want to stay here, and if you want to listen, you could be the world heavyweight champion someday.”

In 1986, Tyson fought for the World Boxing Council heavyweight title against Trevor Berbick. He knocked out the defending champ in the second round. Tyson claimed the title at 20 years and 4 months old, giving him the record for being the youngest heavyweight boxing champion in history.

Behind Tyson’s toil and long hours in the gym was D’Amato. The two had a relationship beyond a regular coach and trainer; it was like the bond between father and son. And many believe that it was this relationship, paired with Tyson’s work ethic and sheer ferocity, that led to Tyson’s dominance in the ring.

Former PXC flyweight champ and boxing champ and current UFC fighter Jenel Lausa attests to the value of coaches when it comes to reaching your potentian. He shares, “Sa mga bata na nangangarap na maging champion, kailangan ng training, discipline, at makinig at sumunod sa mga coach.” [For fighters who want to be champion one day, you need training, discipline, and listen and follow your coaches.]

The life of a fighter or a competitor will always have its fair share of challenges. And according to Lausa, having good mentors can help you overcome these challenges. “Ang coach, parang magulang lang din yan eh. Parang lahat ginagawa nila para sa inyo. Kapag pinayuhan nila kayo, makinig kayo kasi hindi naman para sa iba ang payo na yan eh. Para sa inyo yan. Kaya discipline talaga at matutong makinig.” [Coaches are like your parents. They do everything for your well-being. If they give an advice, you have to listen because it’s not for the benefit of others. It’s for you. That’s why discipline and listening is important.]

Don Gaoiran

Rabble-rouser at Dojo Drifter
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