Steve Lott: "Mike Tyson remembers being the hero and having it all taken away because of Don King"
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Steve Lott: "Mike Tyson remembers being the hero and having it all taken away because of Don King"
By Robert Brown, Doghouse Boxing (May 11, 2013)

Mike Tyson and Steve Lott
Mike Tyson and Steve Lott
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Steve Lott has been a major part of boxing for over 3 decades and has worked with and helped manage many prominent fighters, such as Wilfred Benitez, Edwin Rosario, but he is most famous for being a former assistant trainer to Mike Tyson in his early days at Cus D’Amato’s gym in Catskill New York. He is also known for being an executive producer of Big Fights Inc. and having one of the world’s largest collections of boxing memorabilia. I recently was afforded an opportunity to interview Mr. Lott, and on this occasion our main focus will be on, “You guessed it, Mike Tyson” to get Steve's take on Mike’s rise and fall, as well as some of the scandals involved.

Robert Brown: Mike Tyson has resurrected his life with a one man Broadway show, have you seen the show and if you have what did you think?

Steve Lott: He did great. I saw it here in Vegas last summer.

Robert Brown: Youngest heavyweight champion at the age of 20, had his own coronation, in your mind where and when did it start to go wrong?

Steve Lott: It all went wrong in June of 1988 when Mike married (actress) Robin Givens, then proceeded to get worse after he signed with Don King.

Robert Brown: Because of his street background and his history of anti-social and criminal behavior in the early days which landed him in a juvenile facility. Did Cus D'Amato put any effort in giving Mike some social grounding and boundaries, or was he just focused on developing his boxing skills and as a result neglected that area?

Steve Lott: I am always amazed that this question is asked over and over and over. Mike was doing commercial's on network TV in 1986-1987-1988. Sponsors do not normally hire street punks to be their poster boy. Not enough? Mike was hired by the NYC police department, The FBI and the DEA! Do you think they hire street punks or un-socialized individuals?

Robert Brown: I never suggested Mike was a street punk and Cus D'Amato was a great man. I did not mean to sound disrespectful. Mike was thrown out of school, did the Catskill team make sure he was educated outside the ring as well as inside?

Steve Lott: The world forgets that Mike did turn out to be almost a model citizen - until Don King came along and put Mike back into the street.

Robert Brown: Was removing Teddy Atlas from Mike's training after the incident with Atlas's 11 year old niece a mistake? Did this lead him to believe he was untouchable and there would be little or no consequence for his actions present and future?

Steve Lott: There was no negative effect on Mike.

Robert Brown: How much damage do you think was done to Mike Tyson as a result of the Barbra Walters interview?

Steve Lott: The damage was done already...just sad that Mike fell into Don King’s hands a few days later.
Robert Brown: Why do you think his attitude to training and general discipline eroded so quickly after the Catskill breakup?

Steve Lott: Good question - 1. Mike was very embarrassed about leaving Kevin (Rooney) and Bill (Cayton). 2. King put no restrictions on Mike. 3. The more Mike acted like the street punks around him, his popularity was gone and worse he was made into a party joke. 4. No Kevin in his corner. All this added up to a failure.

Robert Brown: So the whole reason Givens got Mike away from Cayton was control, not for his best interest? Bill Cayton was not controlling and manipulating as has been claimed?

Steve Lott: I always hear this "controlling" and "manipulating" with Bill. Mike was the youngest Heavyweight Champion of all time. Commercials on network TV for Pepsi, Kodak, Nintendo. A Spokesperson for the NYC Police department, FBI, DEA - 2 million dollars in an annuity that Bill set up and was voted world's most popular athlete.

Robin did not want Bill around because she would not be able to steal Mike's money undetected. Don't forget that Robin re-signed with Bill once she found out her black brother Don King would steal all of Mike's money before she could steal it.

Robert Brown: If the Catskill team had not been broken up, do you think Tyson would have been able to maintain his attitude and desire? 

Steve Lott: Yes. He had no problem at all up to Robin Givens. 

Robert Brown: Are you saying that Givens is almost entirely the catalyst for Tyson's downfall? If he had not met her the Catskill team would not have separated and he would not have fell into King's clutches?

Steve Lott: That is correct. Mike would not have been emotionally shot. There were many times that I saw Mike wink at me when some con man made a move on him.

Robert Brown: What do you think was the reason behind King hiring a novice attorney in criminal case for the proceeding rape trial?

Steve Lott: Don made a deal with the attorney. Take 4 million from Mike for the defense and split it with Don.

Robert Brown:  Do you really think King would risk his most valuable resource going to jail for 2 million dollars?

Steve Lott: Great - great question. (Vincent) Fuller told King that there was no proof. Easy case to win. And there was no proof. But Fuller made the blunder of the century by putting Mike on the stand.

Robert Brown: How much did the inexperience of this attorney harm Tyson in this case?

Steve Lott: Fuller was totally responsible. He put Mike on the stand.

Robert Brown: If what has been stated is true, that Mike Tyson funds had been repeatedly raided and he was virtually bankrupt by the time he came out of jail in 1995, why did he re-sign with Don King and surely the responsibility of that must fall on his shoulders at that time?

Steve Lott: Another great question. 1. There was a Muslim priest in the prison that Don was paying off to keep Mike full of King. 2. Don King is a great, great con man. 3. Mike was too embarrassed to seek other help.

Robert Brown: Do you think Mike has finally come to a stage in his life where he is at peace with himself?

Steve Lott: No. He still wishes he never left Kevin Rooney and Bill Cayton. Mike remembers being a hero and having it all taken away because of Don King. It eats him up.

Robert Brown: Mike Tyson has been inducted into the hall of fame. Do you feel honored knowing you had a part in those early successful years? 

Steve Lott: Yes.

Robert Brown: When all is said and done, how should Mike Tyson be remembered? 

Steve Lott: The story is not over yet.

No matter who you blame for Mike Tyson’s misfortune and roller coaster rides of ups and downs, even though Mike was a two time world champion and the youngest heavyweight champion in history, Mike, career wise never realized his full potential and we will always be left with a case of what might have been. But I am pleased to see that he is coming to terms with who he was, appears to be reasonably content with who he now is and can go forward in life with a reasonable degree of optimism.

I would like to thank Mr. Lott for the time he invested in this project and hopefully this interview has shed some light on Mike Tyson's struggles and some truths will now come to the surface.

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