Rikers Island to the Hall of Fame

Dear Reader,

I went all the way to New York City to ESPN Studios to talk to Teddy Atlas who is a legend in the boxing community. 


He has trained 18 different world champions, including Mike Tyson, Michael Moorer, who he guided to the world heavyweight title in 1994. In 1998, Teddy joined ESPN’s boxing team on Friday Night Fights and has commentated for three Olympic Games. He has also been inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Staten Island Sports Hall of Fame.


I love sitting down with Teddy because he talks about fear. He knows how to deal with a fighter when they are about to go to the scariest place on earth, and he had some great lessons to share with me on how all of us can deal with fear, regardless of whether you’re a fighter or not.


I also enjoyed getting to learn about who Teddy is as a father and hearing him talk about his children really made my day. 


Teddy is such an inspirational guy and he had so much wisdom to share with me about how to look outside yourself and find out what really matters in life and I can’t wait to share with you all what we talked about. 

From Fear to Strength 

According to Teddy, one of the most important things required in having a fulfilling life is having the ability to keep developing true acts and true experiences. You have to be able to take a step outside yourself and look at what is really important in life. 

Following these steps in the only way to become a whole, rich person. Now, when Teddy talks about being a “rich” person he doesn’t mean monetarily rich; instead, he means a person who is rich in life. Teddy has had a lot of experience with people who have made incredible amounts of money, but are still miserable and depressed. 


“Money won’t make you whole,” states Teddy. You have to find other ways to make yourself whole, because money will never change who you really are inside. 


Teddy shared a lot about his childhood with me during our discussion. He was a rebellious youth and was arrested and kicked out of school multiple times. After participating in an armed robbery he was sent to Rikers Island, an experience he opened up to me about. 


He recalls a story about his time at Rikers that I found incredibly moving. He told me on his first night he sat by the tiny, matchbox window in his cell and looked at the airplanes taking off at Laguardia Airport not too far away. He would only be able to see the plane for just a second before he lost sight of in from his small viewpoint. 


He told me he used to make deals with God, nature or whatever higher power might be out there. He used to ask to get put on a plane, even one that might crash, just to be out of Rikers. 


Teddy explained comments, “it was pretty depraved in their thinking that they put a prison, with kids in it… next to an airport.” 


At the time, Teddy was just a scared kid, even though he was pretending not to be. 


Now he asserts, “if you’re gonna be strong, you gotta talk about your weakness, so you know how to be strong.” 


This is something I find so important. 


As someone who has struggled with their own demons I relate to Teddy’s advice here so much. 


We can all lift each other up when we are able to open up about our fears and our weaknesses and by acknowledging them we can grow and develop into better people. 

Making a Difference

Because of Teddy’s past experiences, he wanted to be able to find a way to help children and their families who are in need or have fallen through the cracks. 


For the past 23 years, Teddy has been running the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, a community service organization that provides financial and emotional support to individuals and organizations in need, and focuses particularly on the needs of children. 


Being of service to others, especially to children, has been one of the greatest joys of Teddy’s life. He has been blessed with two children and three grandchildren. I could see the pride etched into Teddy’s face when he talked about his children’s accomplishments, but what he is most proud of, is that they are “good people.” 


Teddy got choked up telling me a beautiful story about when his son was about five and he was told he couldn’t go outside and play – he was being punished for doing something wrong. Teddy walked past his son’s room after and heard his son tell himself that he was bad. Overcome, Teddy rushed into the room, took his son into his arms, and told him “you are not bad. You are the best.” 


It just broke his heart to hear his son put himself down and it’s something Teddy is incredibly sensitive to because he knew what his son was feeling inside. It was the same feelings that Teddy had sitting in his cell at Rikers.


Teddy told his son that everyone makes mistakes, that does not mean you’re a bad person, and I think this advice is something really important to remind ourselves of every day, no matter how old you are. 


Teddy states, “it’s one thing to write a check, it’s another thing to know how someone is suffering.” Once we are able to confront our own fears and suffering and weakness, then we can truly begin to help others do the same. 


Today, try sharing a fear with someone rather than keeping it bottled up. You never know when the people around you might be going through the exact same thing as you. We can only grow together, not alone.


Brian Rose

Brian Rose
Editor, Brian Rose Uncensored

You May Also Be Interested In:

Wealth Management From a Banking Perspective

Good morning! I dreamed a pleasant dream that you were suddenly awash in all the wealth you truly deserve. Then I came to and thought, “Oh no, the bankers are coming!” When private bankers come, and come they will, you need to have an easy-to-remember schematic about their jobs. Here we go… The Private Bankers...

Brian Rose

Brian Rose is an MIT graduate, with a degree in engineering. Upon finishing school, he immediately began working on Wall Street. An advanced technical trader, Brian was trading a book of $100 million at the age of 22. He spent years on Wall Street, working in New York, Chicago and London. He made millions, but...

View More By Brian Rose