Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tyson finally boxing clever

EAR WE GO ... Tyson gets stuck into Holyfield

EAR WE GO ... Tyson gets stuck into Holyfield


IF America’s boxing superstars had been educated to their full potential it’s unlikely we would have heard of them.

That has always been my contention after hours talking to the greatest champions.

If highly intelligent men like Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler had gone to university they would not have entered the ring.

Mike Tyson certainly comes into that category. Anyone who sees ‘Tyson’, the 90-minute documentary that is in cinemas now, will understand what I mean.

I saw the film this week and wasn’t surprised at the critics’ bewilderment. They must have formed preconceived ideas about the former world heavyweight champion.

No doubt they expected to witness the reincarnation of Neanderthal man on screen.

They listened to a convicted rapist, who chewed off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear and spat it out like regurgitated meat.

But almost to a man they expressed amazement at how articulate Tyson was in telling his life story.

One even found it in his heart to sympathise with Mike, who grew up in New York’s worst ghetto without a father, a mother who was a prostitute and being bullied unmercifully because he was a fat child with glasses.

I got to know Tyson as well as anyone could in 16 years covering his fights. The word enigma could have been invented for him.

He was traumatised by the years spent in juvenile and adult jails.

Tyson is a schizophrenic and being alone with him could be scary as you were never sure if he was about to explode.

On the other hand there were plenty of occasions when he was a delight to be with — warm, witty and charming.

Yet who can forget the mad moment when he bit Lennox Lewis and tore a hole in his thigh in a brawl at a Press conference.

Tyson’s mental condition was not helped by alcohol and drug abuse. Most of the documentary interviews took place in rehab.

He doesn’t excuse his behaviour and says he was suffering temporary insanity the night he cannibalised Holyfield. But he still insists he is innocent of raping Desiree Washington.

Tyson said: “I’ve used drugs. I’ve had physical altercations with dangerous people. I’m just happy to be here.”

Tyson, 42, is an obese middle-aged father of six. His remaining ambitions are to see his kids go to college and be a grandfather.

The documentary ends with him reflecting: “The past is history, the future a mystery.”

I hope Tyson, after the turbulence of his youth, finds the peace and tranquility I feel he genuinely craves.

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