From 1949 until Floyd Patterson lost the heavyweight title to Sonny Liston, the business of boxing was a three-way power struggle for control of the sport. D’Amato, who controlled the heavyweight champion, waged war with Jim Norris, who controlled Madison Square Garden and everything that went on there, and Frankie Carbo, who was, for all intents and purposes, the Underworld Commissioner of Boxing. Another aphorism spoken by members of the fight mob is that very little in boxing is square, except the ring. Cus D’Amato had to take punishment from both of these heavyweights in order to get his fighter to the crown.
The man behind Floyd Patterson, Jose Torres and Mike Tyson was an extraordinarily complex individual who spent most of his life fighting personal battles that were little understood. Often dismissed as psychotically paranoid and laughingly marginalized as a nut-case, Cus always hovered on the periphery of mainstream boxing. Both his colleagues and the media would scratch their heads when discussing D’Amato because they could not explain his behavior, but they could not argue with his genius.
Boxing’s Greatest Strategist
This riveting biographical novel tells the story of the complicated individual who is regarded by many as one of the greatest boxing strategists who ever lived. Whether you endorse his approach or not, most commentators agree that he developed a system (his own word) that revolutionized the mental and physical game of the sport. He maintained an advisory relationship with Muhammad Ali for years and was behind the scenes for many of his high profile bouts.
His story is one defined by his passion for his principles and his singular focus on the advancement of the fighters he worked with. Underneath the public story, however, is a cloudy, often conflicting, tangle of parable and myth that, although frequently repeated, does not add up to a cohesive understanding of his erratic behavior. Even those who were his closest associates relay conflicting information with little supporting detail about his background. Many of the facts that can be documented do not make sense in light of other aspects of his life.
Many of his statements cannot be reconciled with his actions:
- His incessant rage against the monopoly of the International Boxing Club seen opposite his masterful negotiations to capture 100% of the broadcast revenue of fights where he was also acting as both manager and promoter.
- His claims of unfair dealing in the matchmaking practices at Madison Square Garden while he obtains a financial piece of his fighter’s opponent in case the title defense goes the other way.
- His statements to the press about the evils of racketeering as his noted underworld business associate is consistently dealt one third to one half of the gate receipts.
- His extraordinary ability to negotiate ground-breaking financial terms for his fighters (of which he earns 33%) viewed against his own complete absence of assets and income, personal bankruptcy, and lengthy disputes with the IRS.
Cus D’Amato was arrested and stripped of his manager’s license by the New York State Athletic Commission. The State Attorney General filed an action against him alleging a conspiracy to exercise a monopoly over the heavyweight title through control of the gate and the broadcast rights. The Attorney General further inquired why Cus was on the payroll of the TV company that was consistently awarded the broadcast contracts for heavyweight bouts when higher bidders vied for the rights. At the peak of his career he retired and moved upstate. He filed for bankruptcy and never earned another dime….that anyone could trace. Who was paying the bills?
His personal life is shrouded in speculation and rumor. He never married or had children. He kept his whereabouts secret much of the time. He lived in a one bedroom apartment with a much younger man for ten years. In his early teenage years he considered a life in the church. He was physically abused by his father. He kept guns in his bedroom which was locked and off limits to everyone. Why so secretive?
“An Awesome Read”
Confusing the Enemy tells the story of an exceptionally gifted individual who was an enigma to most people who encountered him. This biographical novel offers the reader an up close and personal glimpse of the extraordinary man who had an amazing ability to bring out the best in a fighter and cultivate a life-long bond in the process. It reveals his ascendancy to the elite status he earned in the world of boxing and discloses many of the aspects of his life that remain difficult to explain.