Exclusive Interview: Kevin Rooney

By Donald Wright


Exclusive Interview: Kevin Rooney

Boxingtalk recently caught up with former Mike Tyson trainer Kevin Rooney, following his young heavyweight Mike Dietrich’s impressive knockout victory in Maryland.  In this explosive interview, Rooney talks about Dietrich, the state of today’s heavyweight division, and of course, Mike Tyson.  Rooney also reveals new details about the night Teddy Atlas pulled a gun on a young Mike Tyson at Cus D’Amato’s home and training complex in Catskill, New York.

Boxingtalk: Kevin, your local charge, Mike Dietrich had an impressive knockout victory tonight, tell us about Mike Dietrich.

Kevin Rooney: Well you know Mike has the potential to, I don’t want to say – but I do want to say – take over the heavyweight division, because he’s a young kid, and he’s got power.  Now, with power you can hurt people.  And the more I work with him, the more, hopefully, he’ll become much more aggressive.  I mean this kid, in my opinion, he should have knocked him out in the first round.  What I see in him is a desire to try to take over the heavyweight division.

BT: How long have you been working with him now?

Kevin Rooney: It’s been about a year, and I’ve been mainly in and out.  But, you know, knowing the fight game, if this kid wants to step up to the plate, what I personally see in the heavyweight division is not much.  You’ve got the Klitschko brothers, and they’re nothing special in my opinion.  If I had a kid – if I had Mike Dietrich – just get a little more head movement and then put him in the ring with these guys, in my opinion, they’re not going to know what’s going on.

BT: Obviously Dietrich is very strong.  But noticeably lacking is the head movement, and that classic bob and weave Cus D’Amato style.  What do you do to instill that in Dietrich, and what specifically will you work on with him in order for him to work that into his style to become a more effective fighter?

Kevin Rooney: Well, I have to work with him more.  I have to work with him more.  And, he’s not stupid, so the more I work with him, the more he’ll start moving his head, and he’ll understand what I’m trying to teach.  The real good thing about him is that he’s a terrific puncher.  He can really starch somebody.  But, number one, he’s still young.  Number two, he’s got to be completely focused on what I’m trying to teach him, and then get in there and try to starch somebody.  He’s a young kid, strong as hell, and he has the ability to knock people out, and that’s what you like to see.

BT: Kevin, Mike Tyson.  Is he done?  What did you see from Mike in his last fight, and what are your thoughts on Mike Tyson at this point?

Kevin Rooney: Number one, the last thing to go on a heavyweight fighter, or any fighter, is his punching power.  You’ve got middleweights, like Hopkins, he lost that fight to Taylor, and he won the last five rounds, so that was bullshit.  They’ll have a rematch, and maybe he can overpower him.  Now Mike punched hard.  So, the fact that he’s 39, and if you look at what’s out there in the heavyweight division, it’s like anything can happen.  So, the fact that Mike can punch as hard as he still does, that’s the last thing that goes on a fighter.  If you punch hard when you are a middleweight, light heavyweight, or heavyweight, even when you get older, you still punch hard, maybe even harder.

BT: It seems like the blue print in fighting him now is, you survive the first three rounds, and he quits.  Is there anything you feel you could do to address that problem, or is he just a spent three round fighter at this point?

Kevin Rooney: In my opinion, if he came back to me – if he came back to me – I’d make sure he was ready to fight a fifteen round fight.  A fifteen round fight.  Because I did that back in the day when I had him.  We trained for a fifteen round fight, not twelve rounds.  Fifteen rounds.  I don’t care what you say, the fight may be a twelve round fight, you have to be ready to fight fifteen rounds.  Now, if Tyson came back to me, if he would listen, which is a big question mark, I believe that he can run right through everybody.  He could beat the Klitschko boys, beat Byrd, and I don’t even know who the other champions are to tell you the truth.  If he listened to me, I believe he can wipe out the division.  He just turned 39, and for one year, he can still wipe everybody out, and then say, how you doin?  That’s what I believe.

BT: How did you meet Cus D’Amato?

Kevin Rooney: I won the New York City Golden Gloves, a friend of mine gave me his number and I called him up. I moved up there, I moved in his house, and I’ve been up there [in Catskill] for 30 years.

BT: Were you there the night Teddy Atlas pulled a gun on Mike Tyson?

Kevin Rooney: No.

BT: How did you hear about that?

Kevin Rooney: It’s all bullshit. It’s all bullshit as far as I’m concerned.  You don’t brag about pulling a gun on somebody.  If you pull a gun, you’re going to shoot somebody.  He’s a jerk off.  He pulled the gun on Tyson.  Now, you’ve never heard this part.  No one knows this.  He pulled the gun on Tyson.  Tyson walks into the gym, then out the front door and into Cus’ house, and tells Cus what happened.  Then Teddy tells me he’s not working my corner in Scranton, Pennsylvania after my first loss.  And I say, “why?”  Is that your final answer?  He said yeah.  Okay, fuck you.  Now I’m getting the bullshit.  So he pulls the gun on Tyson, then Atlas fires the gun in the air.  And so then Tyson just looked at him, walked into the gym, walked out of the Gym, went back to Cus’ house and told Cus, I’m going down to Brooklyn, I’m going to kill him. 

Nobody knows that.  So, Cus threw him back into Tryon up in Troy, New York with Bobby Stewart.  So he stayed up there for a few days, and I had my fight.  I had a friend, who’s dead now, tells Atlas, what’s wrong with you?  What’s all this with Kevin?  What does this have to do with anything?  So, the motherfucker called me up.  And I’ve had about 8 fights up in Scranton, he knew where it was.  And he says, oh I don’t know where it is, blah blah this, blah blah that.  So I said, I’ve already hired someone, and that was that.  He talks nothing but bullshit.


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