What Do Pacquiao, Valero, Tyson, and LaMotta Have In Common?

By Vivek Wallace - The headlining title of this article is enough to make most think long and hard about the parallels that exist between the aforementioned names.

As one scales that long list of character attributes and tendencies in search of similar trending, most realize after only a short time that there seems to be only one trait which these 4 men share in common..

Fortunately for the world of boxing, that list is narrowed to this one thing, but a closer analysis prompts even the most intelligent to ask themselves how is it possible?

For those who have yet to figure it out, that "one thing" is an unabated, at times purely calculated, feverish passion that lives uncontained, prompting them to cause destruction and pain to anyone that crossed a certain threshold.

Where the psychology in this question actually becomes a question is that this imaginary 'threshold' changes between each of these men, yet the eventual outcome was always the same.

For Mike Tyson, Jake LaMotta, and the now deceased Edwin Valero, these imaginary thresholds were built around mental sensitivities and insecurities, and strongly intensified due to alcohol and substance abuse which resulted in depressive states of the mind, and other mental health issues that ate at the very core of each of these men.

Where the oddity comes into place is that despite the menacing presence in the ring of the names involved, only one man (Pacquiao) has shown an ability to harness these emotions away from the squared circle, literally encompassing a well needed (for participants in this sport) "Jekyll and Hide" persona.

Tyson will go down as the most explosive and youngest heavyweight champion ever, LaMotta (The Raging Bull) can be credited for being the first to defeat 'Sugar' Ray Robinson, and Valero was well on his way to dominance based on his strong vengence. But that same rage that led them to ring fame was culprit in taking away precious pages from the books of their life itself.

Where the division of this "Jekyll and Hide" ego/alter-ego starts to truly become a struggle for many in the sport is that these men are so celebrated for what they do in the ring, yet when the final bell rings and they move beyond the chanting crowds and the spotlight, any act similar to the ones we celebrate them for is punishable, with resulting effects that were in fact responsible for taking a few of them away from us, even if it was for a short time.

The country of India once birthed a spiritual guru by the name Paramahansa Yogananda whose teaching shed light on the concept of "being a master to [ones] emotions, not a slave to them". In a sport like boxing, this balancing act often requires more of a man than many feel they are truly capable of.

Mike Tyson was once nicknamed "Iron", but in a true testament to the delicate nature of these type of emotional scars, we have often learned how easy it is for that "iron" to melt down in the face of great mental adversity for a person challenged with emotional sensitivity, and a difficulty in mastering those emotions.

Through therapy, medicine, and several forms of psychological help, demons of his past stray further and further away, but we're constantly reminded that it's an everyday struggle; one that can often bring setbacks and trigger points at any given moment.

While LaMotta no longer resides in the spotlight, and Tyson has found a way to diminish his negative returns, the recent struggles of a young Edwin Valero came to a halt in a very troubling way, for both he and the wife he murdered.

There were so many things about the Valero case that challenge each of us, because in many ways, it indirectly faces each of us.

Everyone reading this article knows of someone that has taken a step closer to the 'edge' of life than any of us were prepared to see them travel, knowing that an inch in either direction from that point could result in a fall we're not prepared to see them take.

If there is a lesson to be learned here is that help can in fact be too late, and not everyone who we think has the ability to harness those wicked intentions like Manny Pacquiao actually has that near impossible disposition.

As we bring this piece to a close, the operative question is how can each of us, as well as those around us, strike that balance which would make us more like Pacquiao and far less like Valero?

Not to say that Valero was a bad man, because none of these men started bad, and each of them have something in common with not only one another but us as well.......the only difference is one man knew how to turn it off, and the other never got the proper help in life, leaving him 'turned on'.

In an era of life where we're taught to feel a certain social high in being 'turned on', perhaps this tragedy should be used to promote awareness for those affected with these substantive related mental health issues, as there is no better time to be 'turned off'', than after seeing such results.

(Vivek Wallace can be reached at, Youtube (VIVEK1251). Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).

Article posted on 20.04.2010

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