Tyson's Biggest Fight

By Ziggy Shah: For too long I have been hearing from 'so-called' boxing pundits about the state of Mike Tyson's mental attitude through out his career. However, let's step back and take a look at what everyone seems to ignore or somehow forgets. He was born in a low class family with little or no income (A position which all blacks in America were in at the time); so he begins a wave of criminal activity as early as 11 years-old, just so he can eat. He even resorts to street fighting at the age of 12 to make money for a simple meal which you and I would throw away as left-overs. He spent a lot of time living rough on the streets as he dodged police and social care warrants. For many years he battled with the idea that he was a nobody and his existence was for no apparent reason. It was about this time that he took up boxing and it was not long before he started to shine and his potential became evident. Maybe, just maybe, this was the real reason he had been born.

Soon after, he was introduced to veteran boxing trainer, the late Cus D'amato. This man was a legend and had been in the fight game since the 30's, so he knew potential when he saw it. Upon seeing Tyson for the first time, he famously said, "This kid is gonna' be world champ", Mike was only 13 at the time.

He took Tyson on as his son and cared, fed and looked after him throughout these early years. It is worth noting that Cus also had other boxers staying with him who he looked after, two of them were world champions. It is also worth noting that Cus never received, or, asked for money for his services of any of the boxers.
Tyson may have been a minor, but in the gym he displayed the strength and agility of an adult. He soon turned amateur and took the scene by storm, clocking one KO after another.

However, even though he was without doubt one of the best amateur boxers in the country, he was robbed of a place in the Olympic Team because of his childhood antics.It was a big blow for Tyson, who had just about but the past behind him, but the establishment would not let him forget. He was disgusted in the amateurs and turned pro, three months short of his 19th birthday. He showed the same ferocity in the Paid Ranks (pro) by destroying everyone that dared face him in the ring.

But then tragedy struck, His mentor, his father figure, Cus died and as the boxing world mourned the loss of a great asset in the sport, Mike mourned the loss of the foundations upon which he had built his life. Tyson did go on to become World Champ, as Cus had predicted and became one of the most feared and explosive champions to lace on the gloves. His style and controlled aggression sent shock waves throughout a sport which was hungry for a superstar in the Heavyweight Division.

He quickly unified all the belts when he beat all the other champions. The last of which was Michael Spinks, who had never ever been knocked down in his long illustrious career. Mike destroyed Spinks inside a round and left him spread eagled on the canvas resembling a person who had just run into a truck.

It was all too good to be true; Tyson became a multi-millionaire over night and started to live the high life. Driving sports cars and attending all the glitzy parties. He had became an international superstar and recognised as the ‘Baddest Man On The Planet’. Inside the ring, Tyson still displayed the ruthlessness which had made him an icon as he continued knocking hells bells out of all comers.

Incidentally, it is worth noting that, in his early fights whenever the fights finished, Tyson first port of call would always be to his fallen opponent. He would go over to their corner and hug and kiss them and tell them that they put on a brave effort. This is a part of Tyson which the media never mention, his soft side, a side which displayed the sportsmanship that makes boxing so great.

Tyson's star was indeed shining, but, we all forgot one important factor, he was black and living in in a time where being black meant you had to know your place. He was convicted of rape and sent to prison. The rape charges they put on him were unfounded and well master minded by the establishment and Don King, who could not really understand how a black man had become so popular.

Ask yourself one question, why does a beauty queen go to the champ’s hotel room, on her own, in the early hours of the morning after flirting with him at a beauty contest. However he was not the only boxer to suffer, Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, was forced into exile when he married a white woman. Joe Louis, record holder for most title defences, was hounded by the IRS who demanded that he pay tax revenues for fight purses that Louis had donated to the naval war efforts.

Even the Greatest, Muhammad Ali was stripped of his belt when he said, ‘No Vietcon ever called me a nigger.’ There was also Larry Holmes, who was robbed of taking Rocky Marciano record of 49-0 after he had angered America, after proclaiming that, ‘Marciano was not good enough to lace my shoes.’
Yes indeed, Tyson was sometimes aggressive and misbehaved but he does not stand alone when we take a look back at past champions. Max Baer ( world champ), was a confessed woman beater who was such a bad example he made Tyson look like an angel. Incidentally, Baer went on to become a successful actor and an example of the perfect American gent.

Personally, I believe it was all the anti-media coverage that changed him into the monster we saw against Tyson v Holyfield I. They constantly pursued and hassled, all the time reminding him of his past and what he used to be. However, for me, Mike Tyson is a legend, one of the greatest fighters to have ever entered them ropes to compete in one of the toughest sports ever.

He was a man of principle and a great example of this is seen in all his fights. I refer to the black shorts and boots which Tyson always wore. Does anybody know why he always wore black? Well let me educate you, the colour of his shorts and boots was a sign of mourning for his Mentor, the late, great Cus D'amato, and if you ever noticed, Mike also had a little American flag on the corner of his shorts...Yes, an American Flag.

Do you want to know why? It was a political two-finger salute to the establishment that never let him forget. The message was simple, " I’m African American and I'm the best in the world, the most ferocious heavyweight champion of all time…Iron Mike Tyson.”

Article posted on 03.07.2011

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