When visiting fighters travel to another country to participate in a fight card, they often train in the same facility at different times.
In 1974 prior to facing then-heavyweight champion George Foreman in Zaire, Muhammad Ali and his team would enter the gym following Foreman’s regimen. And several of Ali’s entourage couldn’t help but notice the caved-in heavy bags, compliments of one of the most ferocious punchers in history.
Imagine having to face a knockout artist like Foreman and you walk into the gym following his workout and notice freshly-created craters in all of the heavy bags.
Ali paid it no mind and went on upset Foreman; But having to see that every day for several weeks must have been a bit unsettling.
Now, let’s fast forward 16 years to February 1990. Buster Douglas is just a week or two from facing a dominant and destructive champion in Mike Tyson in Tokyo.
Just as Ali trained after Foreman, Douglas got his gym work in after Tyson finished. And like Foreman before him, Tyson left not-so-subtle violent messages for his opponent.
“My training sessions [in Tokyo] were nice, calm, and quiet,” Douglas told ESPN in 2018.
“Just me and my trainers in the gym. We would come into the gym after Mike, and chairs could be turned over and everything as if somebody had a big to-do. And when my camp came in, it was just us. So it was motivation.”
A ‘big to-do’ with furniture probably looking like the Incredible Hulk had just been there… We get it.
“I knew that going into the fight no one was giving me a chance, but I believed, my people believed. That was the motivation,” Douglas added.
“I could care less about what people thought because if that was the case, I would have never turned pro.”
Foreman unleashed brute force to generate those chilling dents in the heavy bags. In fact, we saw him create a few of those dents during Bryant Gumbel’s epic segment with Foreman (circa 1973-74) prior to the Ali fight.
But, was Tyson really having tantrums while prepping for Douglas – or was Mike’s team, realizing their man wasn’t in top form, trying to intimidate Douglas? Let’s not forget, Tyson’s ring walks and fighting style, alone, were menacing enough to terrify opponents.
… And part of his aura was his killer instinct.
Moments before Tyson vs Douglas, HBO’s Jim Lampley reported to a live audience that an eager, bloodthirsty Tyson was punching walls while waiting in his locker room.
Was Mike really punching walls or did Team Tyson, realizing Douglas and his handlers would probably catch wind of Tyson’s alleged pre-fight behavior, make one last attempt to intimidate Buster before the principles entered the ring?
Please share any behind-the-scenes tactics you’ve seen a fighter and his team employ in an effort to gain the upper hand.