I have always had a respect for Teddy Atlas and have often called him “the most honest man in boxing,” and my opinion has not changed after reading: “From the Streets to the Ring: A Son’s Struggle to Become a Man.” Peter Alson really does a great job painting the picture and getting the Atlas story out there, making this a book that you will not be able to put down.
Teddy Atlas was a troubled kid, while his father was extremely established and respected. Although he was known to all, Teddy’s father was distant to his family emotionally, creating this side of his son eager to get his attention, either good or bad. There are moments in the book where you have to sit back and laugh, as Teddy and his buddy sell fake marijuana to some thugs and have to fight for their lives, and when he and his friend break into a grocery store and trick the police into thinking that it wasn’t them.
Teddy spends time in prison for being young and stupid, but finds boxing, which proves to be a life raft to him. He gets taken in by Cus D’Amato and starts his journey into pugilism, but an unfortunate medical condition keeps him out of the ring and turns him into a trainer…one of the best in boxing. D’Amato knows talent and knows psychology and uses all of his verbiage to make Atlas the best he can be and to also do a great deal of work for almost no money.
Atlas really shows his heart as he works with the kids, instilling confidence and an alternative to a criminal life. He has taken all the lessons that he had learned and taught a group of children, leading to his work with a fighter by the name of Mike Tyson. The Cus D’Amato-Teddy Atlas split was due to a situation with Iron Mike, which leads me to the only complaint that I have about this book. There was no mention of the railroad job that D’Amato was trying to do to Atlas, as he called other gyms and tried to prevent him from getting another job. I think that since D’Amato is deceased, Atlas bit his tongue a smidge and the book lost something because of that.
The psychology of the game, which Atlas fully understands, is on display as he works with mentally fragile, Michael Moorer, a fighter that no other trainer was able to really reach. Atlas took his talents and brought him to the heavyweight championship, in what was surely a struggle. He also had an interesting situation with the former WBO Heavyweight Champion, Shannon Briggs, where they encounter a town full of bigots that force Atlas and Briggs into a brawl.
The craziest moment in the book has to be when he plans to kill Donnie Lalonde in an act of revenge. Lalonde had begged for Atlas to train him, and then dumped him when the money came in, enraging the trainer who was trying to support a family. The title of this book says it all. He is from the streets and still has that inside of him, now apparently under control, but at that time, he was ready to use street justice on the “Golden Boy.”
This book is very compelling and I was as impressed with the writing as I was with the story. Peter Alson should be proud of the work that he has done, and Teddy Atlas should be proud of the life that he has led. I have been waiting for a long time for a Teddy Atlas life story and it was well worth the wait. I highly recommend this book for any fan of boxing, as well for anyone that is in search of a good story.