Understanding The Peekaboo Style Of Boxing With Teddy Atlas
The peekaboo style of boxing is one of the most exciting and explosive styles fighters have been practicing for more than a half-century. Developed by legendary trainer Cus D’Amato and made popular by Jose Torres, Floyd Patterson and Mike Tyson, the peekaboo style is all about an aggressive defense that forces the opponent to throw punches and make mistakes.
The style is named after the similarity between the infant’s game and how a fighter holds their guard up high to cover their face and kept their elbows close to their sides as they approach the opponent. While D’Amato never called it peekaboo—he referred to the style as “tight defense”—the trainer got the idea from watching “Slapsie” Maxie Rosenbloom in the 1920s. D’Amato said he was inspired by Rosenbloom’s ability to avoid punches, anticipate blows and react properly during the era when boxers had triple-digit fight records and there was only one champion per division.
Basics of Peekaboo
“The thing behind the peekaboo for Cus, what he would always tell me was ‘I wanted an exciting style...a style that would put fans in the seats...an explosive style,’” Atlas said. “A style where you would be offensive-minded but at the same time you had to be good, so you had to incorporate defense.”
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Altas advises paying attention to the little fundamentals as you’re starting to get familiar with the peekaboo style:
- Keep your hands just below your eyes when setting up your guard. The trainer points out a common mistake boxers typically make when learning this style is having their hands covering the sides of their head by the temples. Doing this will impede your peripheral vision in the fight, according to Atlas.
- Keep your chin down and your line of sight around the opponent’s chest and shoulders area.
- Keep your elbows close to your body and your arms straight when your guard is up so your opponent’s punches don’t ricochet off your arms and into your face, the trainer said.
- Square up your stance slightly from the traditional boxer stance.
- Make sure to slip and weave your head when in the peekaboo stance to slip incoming shots. Look for openings while dodging or blocking your opponent’s shots. Slip the straight punches and weave the round punches, the trainer advises.
“He is shooting at vapors. He’s shooting at air. You are making him miss and breaking him down physically and mentally because you’re not letting them be the boss” Atlas said. “You’re in control. You’re grabbing his heart...you’re grabbing his soul.”
Atlas stresses the main principle to grasp when learning the peekaboo style is to be able to put pressure on your opponent while also being elusive to his punches. If done right, you should be able to fatigue your opponent and capitalize on their mistakes. As D’Amato once said: “It’s always good to throw the punch where you can hit him and he can’t hit you.”
Who Is Teddy Atlas?
For more than 40 years, world-famous boxing trainer Teddy Atlas has produced numerous world boxing champions, including Michael Moorer, Alexander Povetkin and a young Mike Tyson. The Hall of Famer trainer has also made a name for himself as a ringside boxing analyst for ESPN for more than 20 years and was also a boxing commentator for NBC’s Olympic coverage from 2000 to 2016. Atlas has also worked as a fight coordinator for Hollywood films, most notably Triumph of the Spirit starring Willem Dafoe. The trainer’s podcast, The Fight with Teddy Atlas, is one of the most popular among boxing aficionados and continues to grow daily.
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