Over 30 years ago, when Tom Patti first began his boxing training under Cus D’Amato, he received a blunt yet honest message during his orientation, one that became a frequent lesson throughout his instruction.
“Cus would say, ‘Not all my fighters will be champions,’” Patti told Sports Illustrated. “‘But if you apply the same principles that you’ll gain from this sport, you’ll be successful no matter what the endeavor.’”
Perhaps Patti, now a government supervisor of San Joaquin County in California, is a prime example of D’Amato’s principles being put into effect outside the ring. Of more famed note, D’Amato produced three world champions in Floyd Patterson (heavyweight), José Torres (light heavyweight) and Mike Tyson (heavyweight), teaching them his “peek-a-boo” fighting style. At 21, Patterson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever in 1956. At 20, Tyson became the youngest in 1986, 12 months after D'Amato's death.
But while D’Amato is recognized by some as one of the most influential boxing trainers in history, his teachings are mostly unknown. His doctrines were taught in secret in Catskill, N.Y.
Non-Compromised Pendulum, a book primarily written by Dr. Oleg Maltsev, documents the ideologies and scientific virtues of D’Amato. Patti contributed firsthand knowledge, having trained under D’Amato’s tutelage for five years. Patti was a part of D’Amato’s last group of mentees alongside Tyson; his father was among D’Amato’s first students, alongside Patterson.
Ahead of writing Non-Compromised Pendulum, Maltsev and Patti met in New York, where they spent hours poring over D’Amato’s intricate philosophies. The book is the beginning of Maltsev ode to D’Amato’s principles. (Maltsev said he intends to release a five-book series commemorating D’Amato and his teachings.) At 132 total pages which span 11 chapters, the book is short and concise. But for what the title offers in brevity, it makes up for in elaborate detail. This includes an entire chapter written by Patti dedicated to guiding the reader through a series of poses, stances and moves D’Amato taught with penciled sketches serving as a visual aid.
“The greatest gift that can be given to boxing is people have a greater understanding of what a quality fighter and an outstanding fighter is all about,” Patti said. “So it means a lot for me, for posterity, that we can document this and it can be used for whomever might see it fit, if they can take a higher understanding.”
Maltsev, who is well-studied in martial arts, boasts a Ph.d in psychological sciences. In Non-Compromised Pendulum, the Ukranian’s acumen is on display, particularly when breaking down the multitudes of complicated doctrines and theories. In order to not overwhelm the reader with the scope of these concepts, there are several references to other books which characterize and document the life work of D’Amato, including Larry Sloman and Tyson’s co-authored book Iron Ambition, and Dr. Scott Weiss’s Confusing the Enemy. Both titles, Maltsev wrote, “deserve special attention.”
Unable to counsel D’Amato directly in writing Non-Compromised Pendulum, Maltsev instead spent more than 20 years investigating, conducting interviews with over 50 subjects who knew D’Amato in various capacities. He also visited southern Italy to see the place of D’Amato’s origin. This was all done in addition to lengthy study sessions with Patti.
The text serves as a testament to their zealous commitment to adequately portray D’Amato. Non-Compromised Pendulum was originally written in Russian, then translated to English by Maltsev's research assistant, Kanykei Tursunbaeva. It outlines the numerous methodologies D’Amato incorporated into his teachings. At their simplest, they can be compared to basic psychological conjectures about human will, desire and tenacity, hastily resembling a self-improvement book. “Desire and will have to be strictly differentiated,” the book instructs in its fourth chapter. “… If we don’t aim for a fatal, non-compromised result and allow different talks about the case, then we slide down the stairs.”
At its most complex, Non-Compromised Pendulum typifies the innards of human psyche paralleled with the sometimes overwhelming nature of advanced, scientific jargon. There is little balance, but the book is thorough, explicitly achieving its objective of capturing the essence of D’Amato’s general doctrine.
“The goal of the book was to preserve the legacy of Cus D’Amato,” Maltsev told Sports Illustrated, through Tursunbaeva. “The knowledge, the approach of how to be victorious in the ring and to be victorious outside the ring.”
There are myriad lessons throughout the book. In its second chapter, Non-Compromised Pendulum advises readers to be confident and believe they are capable of accomplishing great feats. In its fourth chapter, it fiercely urges that desire and will have to be “strictly differentiated” both in the ring and in life. The eighth chapter delves into how previous fundamental character lessons relay to performance in the ring, and how particular tactics must be employed in different fighting scenarios.
To put it simply: the book traverses boxing’s parallels to life and how the two, from a scientific approach, were hand-in-hand to forming D’Amato’s system.
“Cus would say that boxing is 75% psychological and 25% physical,” Patti said, echoing one of the earliest ideas explained in Non-Compromised Pendulum.
The book is an unconventional read. It is curious that Mike Tyson, one of the most prominent remaining voices with deep ties to D’Amato, was not consulted for the creation of the work by choice. Tyson recently credited D’Amato for being the fulcrum of his success during an emotional interview with Joe Rogan. However, Maltsev preferred to study D’Amato from a purely scientific standpoint; Tyson’s perspective, he deemed, wouldn’t have been as impactful in explaining the science.
Tyson’s omission serves as the only question mark in the makeup of Non-Compromised Pendulum. But it does not diminish the purpose of the title. The work, and its successors, will likely provide further detail into the life and principles of a man whom Maltsev deems as being responsible for implementing a scientific approach into the art of boxing, or the “sweet science.” And there is something to be said for the technique and philosophies which D’Amato introduced and implemented. At the very least, the work is comprehensive in expressing the importance of the methods of its subject.
“The problem with boxing [today] is that it’s lacking competency,” Patti said. “It’s lacking teachers. So if through this book we can share some information that a bright-minded teacher can utilize for pupils and increase a skill set and the quality of what a fighter is in this era going forward, then we have a strong foundation to build on.”
In Non-Compromised Pendulum, the world has been given meticulous insight into D’Amato’s teachings. The book, which was released last fall, is available for download in both its original Russian text and English translation—for free. As for why Maltsev chose not to profit monetarily from his exploits?
“Cus D’Amato, his methodology, his knowledge—I do not own it,” Maltsev said. “The whole world deserves to know his knowledge. How can I sell something that I do not own?”