What Makes a World Champion?
It was the mid-90s, and he was in his prime. Mike Tyson locked his crazy eyes on the camera. He was in the middle of one of his maniacal tirades, like Muhammad Ali before him, only instead of the poetic grace of Ali's rhymes, Tyson imposed a powerful question.
"How many people on the planet?"
A nervous journalist focused his camera and answered the approximate number.
"Six billion people on the planet. I'll beat every single one of them in a fair fight."
The thought is staggering. Ultimate confidence in the face of any other person on the planet. Later in his life, Tyson was interviewed about this quote. He told the reporter that being heavyweight champion of the world does something to your head. He seemed ashamed of his former arrogance, but in the moment he believed his assertion wholeheartedly.
The irony is that you have to do something to your head to become heavyweight champion of the world. You have to believe you're the best. You have to say it over and over and over again to the mirror, the reporters, or anyone else who will listen. The belief must be on repeat in your mind all day, every day. You have to size up six billion people and know you could knock any of them out.
Belief is a powerful thing. It can't be faked or fabricated. You have to earn belief. You have to build it up one brick of thought at a time. Belief is the currency of the gods. Faith in a higher being is like faith in oneself. If you truly believe, the kingdom is yours.
Tyson got his kingdom, but he didn't conquer it alone. The man who really conquered the world was in his corner. That man was coach Cus D'Amato.
Cus hailed from the streets of the Bronx. His eye was injured in a youthful street fight, an injury that barred him from ever earning a license to fight professionally. So, he turned to coaching at an early age. He lived at Gramercy Gym and had a good eye for talent. He coached multiple young fighters to be world champion, including Rocky Graziano, Floyd Patterson, Jose Torres, and ultimately, "Iron" Mike Tyson. In addition to his boxers, legendary coaches followed in Cus' tutelage, including Teddy Atlas, Joey Hadley and Kevin Rooney, all of whom would also coach world champions.
The D'Amato dynasty centered on one core belief. It was belief itself.
"To see a man beaten not by a better opponent, but by himself is a tragedy."
"Losers are winners who quit. Even if you lose, you still win if you don't quit."
"When two men are fighting, what you're watching is more a contest of will wills than of skills, with the stronger will usually overcoming skill. The skill will prevail only when it so superior to the other man's skill that the will is not tested."
There it is. Tyson's secret; Cus' secret; The secret of alchemists and conquerors - belief.
Do you believe you are your own worst enemy? Then, you probably are.
Do you believe something is too hard, long, or complicated to continue? Then, you'll probably quit.
Do you believe someone is more skilled, more qualified, or more likely to come out on top? Then, you probably won't tap into your will to overcome.
"The hero and the coward feel the same thing. The difference is what they do with it."
Harness and wield your belief, even in the face of fear. To Cus, fear is your best friend. Use fear.
"You must understand fear so you can manipulate it. Fear is like fire. You can make it work for you; it can warm you in the winter, cook your food when you're hungry, give you light when you're in the dark, and produce energy. Let it go out of control, and it can hurt you, even kill you... fear is a friend of exceptional people."
Tyson was an estranged orphan with pent up anger and aggression due to low self-esteem when Cus took him into Gramercy Gym. He was a lost and longing boy, unsure of his place in the world. It was Cus that took the raw energy and potential of Mike and forged him into an Iron man.
Take control of your mind. Realize your power and unleash your belief. Use fear as a tool and ally, then conquer the world with Cus' wisdom in your corner.