Atlas: From the Streets to the Ring: A Son's Struggle to Become a Man [NOOK Book]

Overview

"Of all the people who have affected by my life and influence the choices I've made, none has been more important than my father."

So begins the autobiography of legendary boxing trainer and commentator Teddy Atlas, who grew from the rebellious son of a doctor to a man who embraces, and lives by, his father's values and code.

In this gritty, spellbinding tale, Atlas recounts his fascinating life -- as a juvenile delinquent on the streets of Staten Island; as a boxer and Golden...

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Atlas: From the Streets to the Ring: A Son's Struggle to Become a Man

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Overview

"Of all the people who have affected by my life and influence the choices I've made, none has been more important than my father."

So begins the autobiography of legendary boxing trainer and commentator Teddy Atlas, who grew from the rebellious son of a doctor to a man who embraces, and lives by, his father's values and code.

In this gritty, spellbinding tale, Atlas recounts his fascinating life -- as a juvenile delinquent on the streets of Staten Island; as a boxer and Golden Gloves champion under the tutelage of famed trainer Cus D'Amato; as a companion to the dangerous, unpredictable Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, up until the day Gravano turned rat and brought down crime boss John Gotti; and as a trainer of champions and contenders, among them fourteen-year-old Mike Tyson and heavyweight Michael Moorer, whom he led to the crown with a win over Evander Holyfield.

Equally engrossing are Teddy Atlas's accounts of training dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp for her successful comeback at age forty-two; his work with actor Willem Dafoe, preparing him for his role as a concentration camp boxer in the film Triumph of the Spirit; his journey to Poland to choreograph the film's boxing scenes; and his own performance in movies such as Play It to the Bone. In sharing his stories, Atlas reveals the philosophy by which he lives.

Like Teddy Atlas -- inimitable, tough, honest, and wise -- this book inspires. It is about so much more than boxing. It is a story of overcoming hardships, of compassion for those in need, of tremendous personal integrity, and of personal and professional triumph.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Boxing trainer and ESPN commentator Atlas ruminates on fighting as a form of masculine psychotherapy, from his own youthful street brawling to his stints training a young Mike Tyson and heavyweight champ Michael Moorer. His theme is the male psyche's craving for paternal approval, evinced in his juvenile acting out against an emotionally distant dad and his ringside relationships with a succession of surrogate sons. With them, Atlas's mentoring toggles between fatherly tenderness ("I care about you. You're important to me") and tough-love harangues ("hit him in the fuckin' balls and become a fighter or you get on the next train and you get the fuck out of my life!"). He also becomes a spiritual guide to celebrity clients like Twyla Tharp, whom he lectures on the need to face one's fears, and Willem Dafoe, with whom he discusses the nature of truth. Atlas's exhaustively transcribed motivational sermons can be wearisome, and in his self-serving accounts of boxing industry intrigues he is always loyal and principled. But he and amanuensis Alson tell his story with plenty of atmospherics, Runyonesque characters and an illuminating focus on the boxer's internal battle. Photos. (May 9) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Boxing commentator and former trainer Atlas describes a youth spent looking for love and recognition in all the wrong places, until he found it inside the ropes. In his heyday, the author was known in boxing circles as a trainer's trainer who gave his charges the hand skills and, more importantly, the head skills they needed to be champions. He came by those skills the hard way. As a boy, starved for his parents' attention, Atlas took the low road: dropping out of high school, street-fighting, taking to petty crime. He did a short stint in prison. Then he caught a break. Released from jail, awaiting trial, he got a job working at Cus D'Amato's legendary Catskills training camp. Prison had taught Atlas about fear; everyone feels it, and it can be harnessed as a positive asset, he writes. Boxing camp taught him about discipline. Not that he didn't occasionally slip back into his bad behavior, which provides much color here-after all, this is a book about confronting your weaknesses. In a voice shorn of pretense, both edgy and polished, Atlas describes trying to instill his brand of integrity in his fighters, a bunch of young men who had their share of emotional problems. He had to teach them to honor themselves, in particular not to cave during rough moments in or out of the ring. If they did, he told them, they would hurt more the next day than they ever would from immediately confronting the problem at hand. This demanding ethos cost Atlas more than one fighter and some significant paydays, but he also won world championships and a sterling reputation. He may soon be even better known as a talented boxing anecdotist. A work of cumulative, powerful impact: This author doesn't allow anyone,readers included, to evade life's tough questions.
Boston Globe
“The book is a winner, on all cards, from the first to the final bell.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061738364
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 632,693
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Teddy Atlas

Teddy Atlas works as a color analyst on ESPN's Friday Night Fights and was boxing commentator for NBC's coverage of the Olympic games in Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004). He is also founder and chairman of the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, named for his father, which has raised and donated more than one million dollars to individuals and organizations in need.

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Read an Excerpt

Atlas

From the Streets to the Ring: A Son's Struggle to Become a Man
By Teddy Atlas

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Teddy Atlas
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060542403

Chapter One

Not All Bruises Are
Black and Blue

Of all the people who have affected my life, and influenced the choices I've made, none has been more important than my father.

Dr. Theodore Atlas, Sr., was legendary around Staten Island. A Hungarian Jew, originally from the Bronx, he was the kind of doctor that doesn't exist anymore. He wore a bow tie and a rumpled old raincoat and he drove an old wreck of a car to go on his house calls. He traveled all over the island, taking care of people, no matter what time of the day or night. If his patients couldn't afford to pay, he didn't charge them, and when he did charge them, the most it would be was about five dollars. Sometimes they paid him with pies or cookies. In the 1970s, when I was a teenager, my mother started calling him Columbo, after the character in the TV show, because of the way he dressed and because he always seemed distracted and preoccupied.

Besides his medical practice, my father somehow found time to found and build two hospitals, Sunnyside and Doctor's Hospital. He also built over a hundred houses on Staten Island, including the two we lived in -- a small one-family home, and, later, a largerColonial that he built across the street -- plus some Winn-Dixies and condos down South. Think of it: here was a doctor who owned a crane and bulldozer, and on Sundays, to relax after spending an eighty-hour week practicing medicine and taking care of people, he bulldozed the empty lots on the hill where we lived so he could build houses. He even built the sewer system for the whole neighborhood.

Because my father poured all of his time and energy and feeling into his work, my mother and I and my four younger siblings, Tommy, Meri, Todd, and Terryl, often felt shortchanged -- if not consciously at least in our hearts. Maybe it was easier for him to express emotions toward his patients than his family. I don't know. Even today, I run into people who were patients of his, and they all talk about how compassionate he was with them. But at home it was hard for him to show anything. He considered emotions a sign of weakness. I remember one time we were in the car and he made fun of us kids for crying over something. He started going "Wahhhh!" in this loud, mocking way. After that I never cried again, even many years later at his funeral.

Of all the kids, I was always his favorite, which made for an odd kind of tension in the house. In some ways it was like we were two families. One family was my mother, Tommy, Terryl, Todd, and Meri. The other family was my father and me. It wasn't as if I didn't have to work hard for his attention. I did. I showed an interest in science because he liked science. I'd get him to take me out on house calls with him, because that way I could be with him and spend time with him. You have to understand, this was a man who left the house every day at six-thirty or seven a.m. and came home at ten-thirty or eleven p.m. Any time that I got with him was time that I had to steal. He never asked me to go with him. I just went. Occasionally, he would get a call in the middle of the night, and I would hear the phone and wake up. By the time he was coming out of his room and down the stairs, I was sitting there, ready to go. He would tell me to go back to my room, but sometimes he would give in and let me go with him. I remember going with him on New Year's Eve once, around 1964 or '65, for a maternity case. I must have fallen asleep in the doctor's waiting room. At midnight, one of the nurses woke me up. They were all pouring soda and champagne, saying, "Your father just delivered the first baby of the New Year." Half-asleep, I joined the celebration, knowing that it was a special thing to be there, even if my father's full attention wasn't focused on me.

My mother, Mary, suffered from my father's inattention more than any of us. She was Irish and very beautiful. She'd been Miss Staten Island in 1940. Part of the prize that went along with the honor was a screen test in Hollywood. But her mother, my grandmother Helen Riley (called Gaga -- the nickname I'd given her when I was young), had refused to let her go. "That's for tramps," she said. Who knows what direction my mother's life would have taken if she had gone? I'm sure she thought about that over the years. My mother was the complete opposite of my father: very social, talkative, outgoing, used to getting attention, and with a fondness for nice things. My father, meanwhile, was driving around in jalopies and wearing shoes until there were holes in them, caught up in his own world, and his very different concerns.

When my brother Todd died at the age of five, it pushed us all further apart. With some families it might have helped draw them closer; not with ours. Todd had been born retarded and with an enlarged heart, and my father, who read all the medical journals and was always up on all the latest procedures, felt that open-heart surgery, which was relatively new at the time, could help him. It was the kind of thing where if nothing was done, Todd would die by the time he was sixteen. So my father made the decision that he should have the operation, and he was there in the operating room watching when Todd died on the table.

Continues...


Excerpted from Atlas by Teddy Atlas Copyright © 2006 by Teddy Atlas. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 28, 2012

    Very well written, great personal story

    I have seen Teddy on TV commentating on fights but I didn't know what an interesting life he has led. I started reading and was immediately drawn into the story. Teddy is a man of principal and that is a seemingly rare trait today. The interaction he had with Sammy Gravano was also very interesting to me. Overall, one of the best books I've read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    My all time favorite nonfiction book!

    I love boxing &Teddy Atlas represents all that is honorable & nobel the sweet science. This should be mandatory readong for all teenage males to demonstrate integrity and personal accountability. Great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    The autobiography I read was, From the Streets to the Ring: A So

    The autobiography I read was, From the Streets to the Ring: A Son’s Struggle to Become a Man by Teddy Atlas and Peter Alson. This book is not just a story of a man’s journey through the boxing world, but a mans’ journey through his life. This book just happens to be in the world of boxing. You don’t have to be a fan or even understand boxing to enjoy the book. You didn’t have to understand boxing because the purpose of the book is that Teddy is teaching tons of life lessons throughout the book. I believe with the life lessons, Atlas succeeded very well with this section of the book.
    The way Teddy explains each situation and how he coped with each of his trainees is motivational. I believe that Teddy Atlas wrote on this subject because father always had boxing apart of his life and had the determination on him. For example, something Teddy’s father said to him was, “become a fighter or you get on the next train and you will get out of my life.” Teddy was born into a dysfunctional family, headed by a father who was unable to give him the love and approval Teddy needed. This part of the book was very touching and you felt bad for Teddy. In my point of view, this section of the book was a strength of Atlas because it gave us a little bit about his background and understood why he chose the career of being a boxing trainer.
    The weakness part of the book for me was when he was in the chapters about training Michael Moorer, and Mike Tyson because I don’t have an interest in boxing. Therefore, I didn’t really know these people to have an interest in them.
    One of the main themes from the book is the male psyche’s craving for fatherly approval, persuaded by his childish acting out against an emotionally distant father and his ringside relationship with a succession of substitute sons. Overall, I was very pleased with this book, and if you are a competitive person like I am, I believe you will like it too. If you are a person who is not a fan of motivation and competition I do not recommend this book for you to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2007

    Great Fight Book

    I always liked Teddy Atlas and know I know why. He is an odd duck of sorts, son of a doctor who is a street tough, never stays away from wiseguys an dyet he is dedicated and 100% standup. Interesting stories well told.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2007

    a self changing book

    This is a great book to read if you are going through tough times. It was great to know that there is someone else that is exactly like you out in the world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2006

    Great self help book

    I am a boxing fan and you can`t be a fan of boxing without loving Teddy Atlas. This book is a great read from start to finish. Brutal honesty in every sentence. It is also has an inspirational tone to it. A story of turning lemons into lemonaide.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2006

    Teddy Atlas is the true meaning of TRIUMPH!

    Wow! What can a person say about a man who composes a book so powerful in words, and more importantly, deep feelings and true emotions? A person who would turn away opportunities, if it was against what he believes in or against his honor. One could only respect a man who has traveled a tough road in life, and in turn, revealed all both good and bad. In a few words, repsect, admiration, and yes, role model.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2006

    Book that goes beyond the world of boxing.

    Even if you arent a fan of boxing, you can appreciate this book. It tells a true story of how life has its ups and downs and how you can still come out on top without giving up what you believe in. Its easy reading, and at moments makes you laugh and cry. Truly inspirational.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2006

    Buy This Book!

    This book is outstanding from cover-to-cover. Don't be fooled by the title. This is NOT a boxing book. This a book about life and, if given the chance, it will be enjoyed by anyone that reads it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2006

    Excellent!

    This book is truly great and never has a dull moment. I reccomend reading it whether you are a boxing fan or not because it contains not only an in depth look at boxing's greatest trainer, but contains many life lessons that everyone can relate to. Great reading and worth every penny

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2006

    Compelling, Inspiring, Unforgettable

    Who knew? I always enjoyed hearing Teddy Atlas comment on boxing, and learned a lot about life from his comments. I had no idea, though, that his life story is mythic and true. The book is about the fight against fear, weakness, the urge to quit--all the usual demons, told through the story of Atlas's life, which is replete with fighters, stand-up guys, gangsters, rats, rags and riches and a great, great deal of love. My fear is that this memoir will be slotted as a boxing book. It's a first-rate memoir that, in many respects, stands head and shoulders over many others of the genre, albeit by professional writers. Atlas is simply a pro, and it comes through in every word. The book is also motivating and inspiring, without trying. I read it in every spare moment I had from the moment I walked out of the bookstore.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 12 Customer Reviews

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