Into a Dark Place

From “Cornerman,” a David Remnick profile of Teddy Atlas, a famed boxing trainer, in the August 21, 2000, New Yorker:

“… I flew back to LaGuardia with Atlas, and I asked him why [his] fighter … with decent skills and the willingness to listen, could not follow up on his corner’s repeated instructions.

” ‘It’s the pressure, that dome of pressure that the civilian can’t quite comprehend,’ he said. ‘Nature, everyone’s nature, is to avoid what’s gonna bring you closer to danger and risk. The reason he didn’t throw those extra punches, no matter how much he listened and nodded yes to me, was because he allowed his weaker nature to tell him, “You don’t have to do this.” The basis of nature is to survive. What I’m telling him is against nature. I’m telling him how to be a brute and not just survive. A trainer’s got to lead a fighter into a dark place, and not too many want to go.’ “

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