Teddy Atlas recalls pulling gun on a 15-year-old Mike Tyson: ‘I needed him to understand what I would do’

Teddy Atlas and Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson is one of the biggest names in the history of professional boxing.

The former heavyweight world champion rose from the poverty-stricken streets of New York to becoming a legend in the sport. Playing a big role in his development were Cus D’Amato and Teddy Atlas, two legends in their own right. However, training Tyson proved to be a struggle, particularly for Atlas who recently recounted an incident when he pulled a gun on a 15-year-old Tyson after he had inappropriately touched Atlas’ 11-year-old niece.

Speaking about the incident in an interview with VladTV, Atlas set the stage, revealing that he had at one point kicked Tyson out of his gym after the young pugilist ran into trouble one too many times. It was Atlas’ partner, Cus D’Amato, who allowed Tyson back into the gym.

That resulted in Tyson deciding to test the boundaries of what he could get away with courtesy of his God-given talent.

“Next thing you know, he’s testing those boundaries and he only knows one way to test them,” Atlas said. “He’s with an 11-year-old girl who happens to be in my family. And I don’t have to go into what he did or what he said and what he threatened to do. It wasn’t something that should be allowed. It’s not allowable.”

Determined to protect his family, Atlas confronted Tyson outside of the gym, stuck a gun in his face, and made sure the boxer knew just how serious he was.

“I got a gun, I went and I grabbed him outside the gym, and told him that if you ever go near my family again, in any way of hurting my family or what you said you were gonna do to this person, I’ll kill you. I want him to be sure that he understood because I understood him and I want to be sure he understood me,” Atlas continued.

“I needed him to understand what I really would do. I didn’t want to do it because I knew it would destroy my and my family’s life. It would destroy his life, obviously. So I wanted to make it very clear. And if it was gonna be, it was gonna be. That’s how serious I was.

“So I said, ‘Do you understand me?’ He showed that he didn’t, so I shot a bullet off close to his ear, just so he would because I didn’t want to be in that position again. If I had to, I would, but I didn’t want to, but in my way, I was saving him and me.”

Teddy Atlas Does Not Condone The way he confronted Mike Tyson

Looking back on the incident, Atlas by no means condones his actions, but it’s what he felt he needed to do to protect his loved ones.

“I’m not condoning what I did, but I knew what it was leading to if I didn’t do something because he was going to do what he said,” Atlas said. “He would do what he said. I believed he would. I also believed that if I didn’t stop him from doing what he said, I wouldn’t be protecting my family.”

On March 26, 1992, Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison along with four years of probation after being convicted for the rape of 18-year-old Desiree Washington, in an Indianapolis hotel room. He was released in March 1995 after serving less than three years of his sentence. Due to the conviction, Tyson is required to register as a Tier II sex offender.

“You can have the greatest fighters in the world be on TV seven days a week,” Atlas continued. “Make millions of dollars. Have more cars than you need. But if you don’t have your own dignity… And that starts with simple things like standing up for your family. If you don’t have your own dignity, you have nothing.

“There’s a lot of ways of violating someone. There’s a lot of ways of stealing from someone. You can take their physicality, beat the crap out of them. You could violate them that way, or you could try to take the most important thing somebody has. Their self-worth. Their dignity. And he understood that and he thought he was going to take that.”