‘He’s got this beast in him’: Mike Tyson’s difficult legacy | American television
MMike Tyson remembers throwing his first punch at a bully. “The guy ripped my pigeon’s head off,” the retired boxer once said recalled in a radio interview. “It was the first thing I loved in my life, the pigeon. It was the first time I threw a punch.
Half a century later, the last great undisputed heavyweight champion of the world is angry again. This time around, the perceived bully is Disney-owned streaming service Hulu. Last week he launched Mike, a scripted series about the life of Tyson starring Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes as the self-proclaimed baddest man on the planet.
Tyson wrote on Instagram“Don’t let Hulu fool you. I can’t stand their story about my life. They stole my life story and didn’t pay me… To Hulu executives, I’m just an****r they can auction off.
This isn’t the first time a film or television producer has turned a famous person’s life into unauthorized “content.” It’s also not hard to see why Tyson’s story proved compelling. His life was made up of stratospheric highs and heartbreaking lows which included the death of his his four-year-old daughter, Exodus, in an accident in 2009.
He made and blew a fortune and, 16 years after his last official fight, is more famous than any current boxer in today’s somewhat jaded fighting game. “The endless fascination with Mike Tyson,” this is how the New York Times put last week. It’s also quotable: “Everyone has a plan,” he once said, “until they get punched in the mouth.”
Interviews with people who know Tyson toss around words such as emotional, impulsive, clever, shrewd and intelligent, portraying a boxer-philosopher who ultimately failed to reach his potential in the ring and is still trying to figure out his place in the world. ‘universe. But he is portrayed as homophobic, misogynist, manipulative, a thug and – yes – a bully.
Tyson has spent decades trying to outrun and send A difficult childhood in a condemned building in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York, where he was frequently beaten by his alcoholic mother, Lorna. He remembered how, because he spoke with a lisp, other children called him “little fairy boy”.
He had been arrested many times when he was 12 years old. His mother died when he was 16. But under Cus d’Amatotrainer and sage who became his legal guardian, he found his vocation as a boxer and showed himself to be dedicated, hardworking and sublimely gifted.
D’Amato died in 1985. The following year, at the age of 20, Tyson became the youngest world heavyweight champion in history. Under the guidance of Don King, with whom he later fell out bitterly, he unified the title and became a sports superstar.
Lori Grickera photographer who followed Tyson in the 1980s, recalls that his fights would attract celebrities like Eddie Murphy, Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Madonna, Sean Penn and Donald Trump, whose properties, like the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, often host.
“It was extremely electric,” she says. “I had never experienced anything like this before and then I would be the one who could walk back from the ring to the hotel room where they would have a little meeting after the fight. There was his manager there and they had soft drinks and balls – it was like the first fight, everything was very clean, then he was walking away with people.
A collection of Grinker’s photos will be published next month in a book titled mike tyson. The 64-year-old says: “It was amazing to watch his rise and watch him go from 14 years at Cus, to being shy, to becoming this megastar, and then seeing the people who came in who didn’t seem like have his best interests in mind.
“Then to see him go down was really sad. And now he’s back. It’s interesting that he has such longevity for just being the personality.”
Grinker wasn’t allowed to attend the infamous parties, but got to see how fame, fame and money transformed and turned Tyson’s life upside down. “He was shy and didn’t think he’d ever go on a date until he was champion, and then suddenly some women gave him their daughter’s phone number on a piece of paper in the middle of the room. road, literally when we were in the car.
In 1990, Tyson lost his title when he was knocked out by James “Buster” Douglas in one of the biggest upsets in sports. In 1991, he raped Desiree Washington, an 18-year-old Miss Black America contestant, in a hotel room. He was sentenced to six years in prison and was released after serving three years.
She recalled via email, “One aspect that I discuss with all of my clients is what I call their ‘baseline for normal’… With Mike, some of the main elements contained in his baseline for normal were: violence, chaos, alcoholism, abuse, women. being mistreated, no safe place, etc.
“He recognized how he continued that baseline in his adult life. Part of our work together was to introduce him to a new baseline that contained much healthier behavior. I don’t think any of us fully escape our old traumas and I know Mike will be the first to admit that he’s still battling his old demons, but he’s certainly a different man today than he was in the past. .
Long before Hulu got to work, Tyson delivered his version of events in a one-man show in Las Vegas in 2012, an autobiography in 2013, and on his own podcast. He has expressed remorse for past mistakes and still finds peace in caring for the pigeons. He’s running now a cannabis company and owns a 420-acre “weed compound” near Desert Hot Springs in Southern California.
Gordon Marin, a boxing trainer and professor of philosophy at St Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, first met Tyson 20 years ago and did sparring drills with him. He recalls over the phone: “It was weird to do it with him because I had never known such an electric body.
“It’s when he’s maybe late 40s, but there’s a kind of electricity in his body that was like, wow! He was a very explosive, very quick fighter, so that was a great experience. We went through some combinations. We used to go on walks together: great conversations. He talked a lot about death.
Just last month Tyson told his therapist Sean McFarland on Hotboxin’ With Mike Tyson: “We’re all going to die one day, of course. Then when I look in the mirror, I see these little spots on my face, I go, ‘Wow. My expiration date is approaching, very soon.
Marino, 72, who attended Tyson’s wedding in 2009 and answered his questions about Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard, comments: “It has been a recurring motif in his life. He is surprised to be alive. He’s a very complex character in the sense of a dry, emotional, very insightful, incredible, moody memoir.
“He also has this [Black scholar and activist] WEB Du Bois talked about it: double consciousness. At times, he struggled between seeing himself as what he called “legitimate,” which was a good, middle-class guy, and “keeping it real,” which meant being a thug. These two things have always been besieged in his very rich and unusual mind.
Remembering Tyson the fighter, he adds, “He was terrified of losing and then when he got in the ring he kind of felt like a god. There were changes in self-esteem levels and that’s why he felt compelled to terrify everyone. It was a big part of his game.”
Tyson’s mind games, trying to intimidate fighters into losing before they even entered the ring, didn’t work against Evander Holyfield. In 1997, he was disqualified and banned for a year after biting off Holyfield’s ear twice.
Frank Warren, who promoted Tyson’s fights in Britain, said by telephone from London: “He’s a terrible manipulative bully. Every fighter who beat him, he couldn’t intimidate. Everyone he beat, he could intimidate. If he can’t intimidate you, that’s a killer for him.”
Warren, 70, who claimed that Tyson once hit him in a hotel room, remains highly critical. “He’s a compelling character, and he’s one of those guys that makes you feel like he’s misunderstood but, when you walk into it, he is what he is, which is say a thug, a tyrant and a misogynist. He is very homophobic when he insults someone or yells at them.
He adds: “He was an incredibly exciting fighter – threatening, devastating – but it lasted for a very short time and then he just screwed up his career. He didn’t live the life he should have lived. You could sit with him right now and you’d think that guy was totally misunderstood, he’s a good guy. I’m telling you, he’s very manipulative.
Despite all of his accomplishments and stardom, there remains frustration that Tyson didn’t fully deliver on his promise inside the ring, a lingering nostalgia for what could have been. He “could have been a contender” for the title of greatest heavyweight of all time along with Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
Barry McGuigan, a retired professional boxer and founder and chairman of the Professional Boxing Association, would put him in the top five or 10. He says from near Canterbury in Kent in the UK: “He was incredibly dynamic, a puncher incredible, ruthless combination. He was with big hitters and he could really shoot. He wasn’t a modern-day juggernaut, but he could still knock them out.
“His best weight was probably just over 16 stone; he was mortal to that. He was so fast and so dangerous and because he fought from a low center of gravity, you hit him at your peril because if you miss he’ll rip your head off.
“But then, with all the problems he had outside the ring, he lacked fitness, he lacked conditioning. He had a very difficult upbringing and, more than anything else, he didn’t have enough of love. If he had had a solid education, his life would not have been so chaotic and crazy. Had he had more stability in his training and preparation, he would arguably have been the greatest heavyweight ever.
Earlier this year, a viral video showed Tyson repeatedly punching a man on a plane, but authorities have not brought criminal charges. Clearly, the producers at Hulu felt that the boxer’s life story offered plenty of raw material to work with.
McGuigan, 61, former featherweight world champion, adds: “He will always be a fascinating and captivating person. He has that beast in him – all good fighters have it. You look him in the eye and he is sometimes terrifying. He’s not a guy you mess with. You don’t mess with Mike Tyson.