Atlas takes dad’s foundation in a new direction

Late Richie Addeo’s daughters to sponsor golf outing in their dad’s memory to help start food pantry

The world’s a different place than it once was for Teddy Atlas.

After all, how many sports analysts and motivational speakers ever stuck a gun in the face of Mike Tyson?

Even before the tattoos?

At 48, the Todt Hill resident is mellower now than any observer would have ever bet 30 years ago when Atlas was raising all kinds of heck on the North Shore of Staten Island.

He’s less confrontational, more philosophical and absolutely more confident in what he wants out of life, and how to get it.

Those are some of the reasons the ESPN boxing color man gave up training fighters like Tyson and Michael Moorer, even though that’s where the money is in the boxing game.

“I couldn’t deal anymore with guys who were kidding themselves, and trying to kid everyone else,” is one reason he gives for closing up shop. “There comes a time in every fighter’s life when they have to hear some honesty if they want to be any good, and I was tired of being the bad guy who had to tell them.”

It is just that sort of conviction that compelled Atlas to walk away from Moorer in 1998, just a few months before he would have been in for an $800,000 payday for Evander Holyfield-Moorer II.

“I couldn’t do it,” he said of dealing with what he saw as the fighter’s lack of commitment. “But I guess it shows how smart I am.”

In the eyes of most boxing experts, Moorer never did reach his potential after Atlas left. But the two are friends, still, a mentor and pupil who had some rocky moments and managed to salvage a relationship after the fact.

“I’m comfortable with all those decisions,” Atlas says now of leaving the actual arena for the ringside analyst’s seat.

The extra time gives Atlas an opportunity to focus more on what he really wants to do: Nurture the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation.

By now, anyone on Staten Island with a pulse has probably heard of the Atlas Foundation, the group of local do-gooders who specialize in cutting through red tape and other obstacles to get money and other help to individuals and groups in need.

Is there a sick child who needs a wheelchair that no one else will fund?

Call the people at the Atlas Foundation.

A family being tossed out of their apartment or someone who needs a little help fulfilling a wish for a seriously ill kid?

The Atlas people will try to lend a hand.

They help to underwrite just about anything charitable that might be overlooked or underfunded and they do their work in the spirit of Teddy’s father, Dr. Theodore Atlas, a long-time general practitioner on Staten Island.

“We try to react to real and immediate needs that people have in a way that larger charities either can’t or won’t,” he says.

Examples of their work have become Island legend.

At a recent Atlas Dinner the foundation donated some medical equipment to former Tottenville High School baseball player Jimmy Brown, who’d been paralyzed in a diving accident.

During the evening, Atlas got up in front of the crowd of almost 1,000 and goaded them with jokes and banter and some mild verbal muscling into putting up over $40,000 on the spot to buy Brown an accessorized van.

“It’s the power of people,” he said of the spontaneous act of charity.

And there was another part of Teddy on display that night.

He also chided Brown, who had expressed a desire to improve his physical strength enough to qualify for possible treatment at the cutting-edge Miami Project founded by former Dolphin star Nick Buoniconti.

“These people did what they could do,” Atlas said, looking at Brown and back at the crowd. “The rest is up to you.”

This week Atlas received a call saying Brown, after a lot of grueling and painful physical work, had indeed been accepted to the program.

Now Atlas is on to another cause. He wants to open a food pantry on the Island.

“It’s a need,” he says. “There are little kids going hungry.”

The problem for Atlas is that demand outstrips resources for an organization that holds one dinner each year as its sole fundraiser.

“We get calls every day,” he says. “And that’s no overstatement.”

So the Atlas Foundation has been looking for help.

They’ve found some recently in the family of late ADCO Electric founder Richie Addeo. Addeo, a leading Island businessman, died earlier his year. His daughters Gina Addeo and Lisa Yost wanted to do something in his memory.

They’re sponsoring a golf outing at LaTourette Golf Course on Sept. 27 in their father’s memory, with the money raised going to the Atlas Foundation.

“It’s another way to give Islanders a chance to help their own,” said Atlas. “And the Addeo family has been generous to help us out.”

The day of golf will be followed by dinner at the Staaten, West Brighton.

For information on playing, or sposoring the day in some other way, contact Frank Lettera, (718) 351-1800 or (718) 980-7037.

CAP: Teddy Atlas, right, talks with Jimmy Brown after the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation gave Brown, paralyzed in a diving accident, an accesorized van in January.