Monday, May 20, 2024

Why Mike Tyson is a ‘unicorn’ according to ex-bodybuilder who trained former heavyweight champ

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Mike Tyson’s punching power, on display in recent videos, has inspired awe. His running form, well, not so much.

Last week Tyson, 57, posted on social media a video of him sprinting, and it elicited a mix of reactions with his July 20 fight against Jake Paul, 27, less than three months away.

“Mike run like his shoes made outta concrete,’’ Comedianblakron wrote on Instagram.

Gabe_drennan commented, “Showty running like a toddler.’’

“He is almost 60 years old!!” wrote Abdullah_aa90. “Most of you cant run at 28.”

Then there was Brad Rowe. He’s a former bodybuilder who helped train Tyson for the boxer’s exhibition fight against Roy Jones Jr. in 2020. After watching the video of Tyson sprinting, Rowe reminisced about what he witnessed when he worked with the former heavyweight world champion.

“Mike is a unicorn,’’ Rowe told USA TODAY Sports. “He is stiff and uncoordinated in so many aspects of training. Then when he enters the ring he turns into a ballerina. It’s unexplainable.’’

Why does Mike Tyson look stiff?

When Tyson began training for the Jones bout, Rowe said, he encouraged “Iron Mike” to ease into the running drills.

“Day 1 he’s like, ‘No, (expletive) you. I’m sprinting,’ ” Rowe recalled. “So I was like, ‘All right. Let’s pray for no injuries today.’’

Rowe said he feared Tyson might tear a hamstring.

“We’d go to this tennis court and he would like jog around the corners and sprint the straightaways and I’d be, like, I didn’t want him doing it,’’ Rowe said. “Because especially with someone older, an athlete like that that’s not used to that explosive moment.’’

Abel Sanchez, who trained Gennadiy Golovkin and three boxers who won world titles before Sanchez retired, also expressed concern that Tyson could injure himself before the fight against Paul.

Sanchez said sprint work is an essential part of a training program, largely because it prepares boxers for a spiked heart rate triggered by bursts of punches. But he said the video shows Tyson lacks flexibility.

“And I would bet within a couple of weeks, he’d be so flexible or a lot more flexible that he wouldn’t look as awkward as he did in that sprint,’’ Sanchez said.

Tyson refusing to ease into sprint work while training Jones seemed to confirm Sanchez’s suspicion.

“There’s not enough teachers today demanding that a certain training regimen be done,’’ Sanchez said. “And there’s a lot of guys just doing it because a fighter wants it done that way. But that is very dangerous.”

Veteran trainers express confidence

Virgil Hunter, who has trained several world champion boxers, said the video left him feeling Tyson “knows exactly what he needs.’’

“You can tell that he is not caught up in the form of running,’’ Hunter added. “He is locked in on the effectiveness of the runs.’’

Hunter said he thinks the video is a sign that Tyson is taking his training back to where it started – in gritty New York gyms and training under gritty Cus D’Amato.

Aaron Snowell, who trained Tyson for about a five-year stretch starting in the mid-1980s, said the sprint work has a clear impact.

“Form and technique brings speed that brings power,’’ he said. “And it all starts with your feet motion. Your feet and the upper part of your body is working simultaneously. It causes form and technique that brings speed that brings power.”

But video also suggests Tyson is determined as he prepares to fight a man 30 years younger than he is.

“One thing about Mike Tyson, when he has something in his mind that he wants to do, he will work incredibly (hard) day and night,’’ he said. “He’ll give you everything he got.’’

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