Mike Tyson Details Interview + How He Can Save Boxing AGAIN
Mike Tyson opens up in the latest issue of Details magazine, and the results are shockingly cogent, logical and at times even moving. Mike Tyson is the rare washed up celebrity that doesn’t blame his mistakes on anyone but himself. And he likely has more right to do that than your average celeb who flushed their career down the toilet.
It is fair to say that Tyson could blame at least part of his current circumstances on exploitation at the hands of guys like Don King, who is certainly the greatest exploiter to ever stick his finger in a light socket. On the other hand, Mel Gibson can’t really blame the Jews for beating his wife. Not that he won’t try.
That said, the Details piece does not live up to the claim that “Everything you think you know about Mike Tyson is wrong.” On top of being a rather trite, standard claim for a publication to make, it simply is not true. In fact, if you have been following Tyson’s career from the beginning, the interview doesn’t really tell you a whole bunch you don’t already know.
What struck me as interesting in the interview is Tyson’s explanation that he has come to realize he must deal with the traumas heaped upon him as a child and the ego he developed when the world proclaimed him the Baddest Man on the Planet. No matter what you think of Tyson, you would have to be in denial to say that his early life, as well as much of his adult life, wasn’t a living hell. The fact that he recognizes the problems caused by his own heavyweight ego is reason enough to believe he might at least be attempting to get it right.
It might seem odd to hear Mike Tyson talk about his inner-child, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. A lot of people come to a point in their lives when they realize they have been great fools for a long period of time. While most of them continue on as great fools, some people realize that while the road won’t be easy, they can become good people if they stay the course and continue to make the effort every single day. Mike Tyson seems to be as skeptical as anybody else about his chances of turning things around, but at least he know he has to.
In the Details interview, Mike Tyson says he is looking for a way to leave a positive mark on the world, but he is still searching for the right cause. Mike, might I suggest you dedicate your time, effort and passion to saving boxing? You did it in the 80′s when guys like Tim Witherspoon, Carl “the Truth” Williams and Trevor Berbick were somehow calling themselves heavyweight champions. But this time boxing needs a lot more than a jolt in the heavyweight division.
Boxing is dead. Die-hards can try and deny it, but that doesn’t change anything. Some people still think that Elvis is still alive and kicking. That don’t make it so.
Until about three years ago, I considered myself to be one of the last true boxing fans. As a kid, I caught every big fight and my room was plastered with the centerfold posters from KO, the Ring and Boxing Illustrated. But after decades of watching the exploitation, bad decisions and fewer and fewer meaningful fights, I had to admit it was time to mourn. I would go so far as to say that Floyd Mayweather Jr. playing patty-cake with Oscar De La Hoya was the day boxing officially died.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be resurrected. And who better to do it than Mike Tyson? Of course he is done in the ring. That has been obvious to anyone who has been paying attention since Buster Douglas made him look like a lost puppy as he pawed at the canvas for his mouthpiece back in the days of way back. But that doesn’t mean he can’t help turn the sport around.
Everybody knows that the best athletes in the US are no longer choosing boxing. Mike Tyson should make it his mission to change that. And part of that mission should be to make sure that the sports future stars will not be exploited the way he was as a young man. Mike Tyson knows what it means to be the most famous man in the world. He knows what it takes to be great in the ring. He is a student of the game. And who knows better than Mike Tyson the challenges of life in the spotlight?
The beautiful part is that the business model for such an ambitious goal is already in place. One need look no further than the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter for the formula. Mike Tyson should make it his mission to find the top heavyweight prospects in the US. He needs to bring them all into one house and one gym. The format can be toyed with. What is important is that these fighters get some face time so their stories can get out there.
It would be incredibly compelling to watch Mike Tyson search for the next Baddest Man on the Planet. Certainly more so than a show about his pigeons. He could be an instrumental part of finding and training the next generation of great fighters. He could even step in the ring to spar on occasion. What do you think the ratings would be for that?
If Tyson took the job of saving boxing seriously, he could make a difference. It would not be easy, a lot of people would laugh at him and try their damndest to mess it up if he goes for it. Mike Tyson seems to realize how much of his own life he has wasted. The fighter inside him should help the new generation avoid those same mistakes.
Mike Tyson could redeem himself and boxing. He just needs to make the effort. Story of his life.
It wouldn’t be Mike Tyson if he didn’t have at least one crazy crazy quote in an interview. This rumination on the gentrification of the slum he grew up in is my favorite from Details:
“My life must’ve been a lie, ’cause there’s nothing there that looks like my childhood. This white woman come up, and I’m thinking, Wow. When I was a kid, she would’ve been robbed and raped and left for dead. This is a real strange scenario, and I just wanted to cry. I’m like, “Who am I? Where’s my heritage?”
Robbery and rape isn’t really a heritage, Mike, but I see where you are coming from. You can’t go home and all that.
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