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Mike Tyson Has Always Been a Phony, Says His Longtime Trainer Teddy Atlas

Mike Tyson the loquacious former boxing legend has always been a phony, his former trainer, Teddy Atlas, told the San Diego Union Tribune. So Teddy Atlas feels like getting sucker punched the next time he’s in the same zip code as Iron Mike, right?

“Mike Tyson’s a phony; he was a phony from the very beginning,” says Atlas, now 57. “A phony from the day he was born; and you can’t say he was forced to be one. Maybe he was forced to be a survivor, but it’s not so much survivor than, can you manipulate?

“When he was a kid, he would hide (from his Brooklyn enemies) in between walls of buildings. I don’t think he ever came out from between those walls; I don’t think he ever broke the habit of hiding. He found a haven between those walls. Later, when he wanted to give you something meaningful, he gave it to you in that lisp of a voice.

“Once, he was Darth Vader, telling everyone, “I’m going to eat your children.” Those were his words, not his thoughts. He’s a complicated guy, but also a simple guy. A phony. The undisputed truth is that he never tells the truth, but if you gave him a polygraph test, he’d probably pass it. That’s how he is. That’s how he reinvented himself.”

Tyson is without question one of the most fascinating characters in sports over the last 30 years. The rise and fall, his background, the biting, the pigeons, I could go on and on, but I’ll let those Atlas quotes sink in. There’s obviously more than just a little bit of truth to them, but don’t tell Tyson I said that. [via Union Tribune]

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