East Side Guru
Join Date: Mar 2010
Kevin Rooney Interview On Tyson
Seems like a good read
Kevin Rooney, one of the legendary Cus D’Amatos trainee’s. Rooney answers questions about Mike Tyson. Although the interview was conducted in 2004 it still is very interesting to hear the thoughts and opinions of one of the very few men who ever really knew Mike Tyson. Although it is a long interview, for Tyson fans it is definitely worth reading to the end.
(WARNING: does contain some bad language)
Over the years, 'Iron' Mike Tyson's legion of devoted fans have firmly held on to a tattered thread of hope: To see their beloved fighter resurrect his desire and regain the heavyweight championship for a third time. Along with that hope are the unwavering contentions: 'Mike should return to his roots... If Mike would only take his training seriously... Mike should go back to Kevin Rooney...'
Kevin Rooney. The man who was coached as a fighter and then as a trainer by the legendary Cus D'Amato at his fabled training camp in the Catskill Mountains of New York - and the one who picked up where D'Amato left off in sculpting a young Tyson into one of the most devastating fighters the sport has ever seen.
After D'Amato's death in November 1985, Tyson won his first championship a year later at the age of 20 by annihilating WBC champ Trevor Berbick in 2 rounds. The win made Tyson the youngest heavyweight champ in history and Rooney (at 27 years old), the youngest trainer to have lead a fighter to a world title. Under Rooney's guidance, Tyson earned a record of 24-0; 20 KO's and a unification of the WBA, WBC and IBF titles by blasting his way through such opponents as: James 'Bonecrusher' Smith, Tony Tucker, Larry Holmes, Tony Tubbs and Michael Spinks.
Immediately after Tyson's brutal first round knockout of Spinks in 1988, Rooney was fired. So began Tyson's turbulent and scandalous life both in and out of the ring.
In recent days, there have been confirmed reports that Tyson (50-4; 44 KO's) has resumed light training on his own in Phoenix, Arizona and is expected to fight in the coming months. Currently, Tyson has yet to announce who will be training him.
In this exclusive interview, Fightnews spoke to Rooney to get his perspective on Tyson:
Mike has gone less than one full round in a span of nearly two years (against Clifford Etienne). How difficult will it be for him to shake off the ring rust?
It won't be that difficult. If he's been running and keeping in shape, it won't be a problem. He's been doing this for so long, that it's almost like turning on a light switch. Mike's not going to be as good as he was when he was 20 or 21, but if he gets into shape and gets prepared mentally, he'll still be a very dangerous fighter.
Has Mike ever talked to you about training him again?
No. We've really had no communication. I talked to him on the phone once, you know...'how ya doin,' blah, blah, blah. Last summer, I heard he came up here (Catskill) looking for me. But he knows where I live. My house is still the same. For him not to come to my house... uh, I don't know. You know, I've always believed that you just don't leave people, you stay with the person who brought you to the dance. Mike and I have a long history together and we accomplished a lot in this sport. That's something you just don't walk away from.
If Mike were to ask you to train him again, would you?
If he were to ask me... sure I would. Just so I could try and bring him back to where he once was.
It's been 15 years since you've worked with Mike. Is it too late to pick up where you left off?
No. I don't think so. If he concentrated and really trained hard, it can be done. When we were at the peak, I had Mike sparring 10 rounds everyday... 5 days a week! It was an all out war EVERYDAY. There was none of that one day on and one day off ****. To be a great fighter... you have to spar. You gotta spar everyday, day in and day out, week after week. With Mike, I would spar him up until two or three days before a fight.
One time in Atlantic City, Mike had gotten a bloody nose and Jimmy (Jacobs) wanted me to stop the sparring. I told Jimmy 'What the ****? If he gets a bloody nose in the fight, you want me to stop the fight then too?!' Then, Jimmy understood exactly what I meant. Another time in Vegas, Mike got a little cut over his eye a few days before a fight. But, the cut didn't re-open because he would move his head.
Another thing, ever since he left me, Mike stopped moving his head. All of his trainers after me, weren't in his mind like I was in his mind. I was raised by Cus and I think Mike had respect for me and he knew what I was telling him, was the right thing. The average person doesn't know what it takes to become a great fighter. It takes constant discipline and repetition. Boxing is 80% mental and 20% physical. Anyone can get in physical shape.
Since your departure as Mike's coach in 1988, very few trainers have been able to motivate him and keep him in the gym. Why do you think that is?
Mike didn't respect those guys. He knows more than them... and he knows it too. Those trainers that he's had, they don't know anything! Mike couldn't pull that **** with me. When it came to style, technique and all that, he couldn't go head to head with me. When he had those other guys, they didn't know what to tell him! My work with Mike had made the phrase 'Move your head' common now. But, there is much more to it than someone just saying 'Move your head.' When I say 'Move your head', there's a system. There's a secret behind that. Cus was very secretive. He always wanted to keep things secret for his own fighters.
Could Mike be so confident in his abilities that it just makes him lazy?
No. All fighters have a tendency to be lazy. Because Mike has had no guidance since he left me, he just does what he wants! His mind set is 'I'm the man.' But, a lot of fighters get like that. They forget the training that was there when they were just a little pup. Mike won't listen to anybody! If he felt he was in shape and needed to take off 5 or 10 pounds, he would just dry out. When I had Mike, he worked out. There was no need to dry out! He work out hard! That's what made him the best fighter and youngest heavyweight champion in the world.
Two weeks before his fight with Etienne, Mike got a tattoo on his face. What did you think about that?
That's just Mike being impulsive... and silly.
In June, Mike turns 38 years old. Since he's not a beat up fighter, how many more years do you think he has left?
Maybe one or two. Mike should get out because I think he lost his desire to fight. Once you lose your desire, you should get out. Right now, he's just fighting for the money. But on the other hand, there really is no one out there. The heavyweight division is wide open for him. Mike still has punching power and when you still have power, you're always dangerous.
What is your opinion of the heavyweight division and the future of boxing in general?
The future of boxing doesn't look good. When was the last time the American's really did something in the Olympics? It was in 1976! All those boys were kickin' ass back then! Now, we've got nothing coming out of the Olympics. And, you know something... part of that problem is because we're the only major league sport, whose minor league has a different set of rules. Baseball, Football, Basketball... you name it. They all have the same rules in their amateur and pro leagues! Boxing is the only sport who does things differently! But, nothing is coming out of the amateurs and that's why we're in the tailspin that we're in right now. It's THAT, and the greedy promoters who've ruined the sport.
As far as the heavyweight division now, it sucks! Boxing through the 50's and 70's was where it was at. Guys like Tyson, Frazier, Ali, Liston, Foreman and Marciano were killers! Today... you've got the Klitschko brothers and Joe Mesi. So what! They'll never make great champions because they are too gentleman-like. They're not killers! Fighters in the 70's and earlier were looking to take your head off! Also, Chris Byrd... who wants to see him fight? He doesn't knock anybody out and he doesn't LOOK to knock anybody out either. He just looks to survive! He's nothing special... with all that running around and tap, tap, tap **** he does.
Mike's fight against Lennox Lewis. What did you think?
Mike wasn't in shape. If he had gotten in shape he would have beaten Lewis. But he quit against Lewis. That whole fight sucked! Lewis didn't do anything great or spectacular! He hit Mike with a couple of shots and Mike got a couple of cuts. Then, Mike tried to quit in the corner, but they sent him out. After that, Mike just laid down. He could have knocked Lewis out if he had only trained.
In that fight, Mike took a heck of a beating - the worst of his entire career. Do you think it affected him?
Nah! Mike quit! He gave up! He was just in it for a payday!
Although there have been many, in which fight do you think Mike threw his best punch? A punch that surprised even you!
The Spinks punch was pretty good. Mike hit him on the chin and put him in La-La Land. Although, that was expected because Spinks was a little nervous. But, Spinks grabbed his 13 million and got the hell out of there and retired. But, the Trevor Berbick punch... THAT was the best! He knocked Trevor down three times with one punch! That was a hell of a punch. That was the best one!