The underestimation of Mike Tyson

13.06.05 - By Geoff Mckay: The first clues came as Mike Tyson made his way into the ring Saturday night. He didn’t want to be there. That much was obvious. He stared at the ground, looked around nervously, he seemed totally lost, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable in the environment that has seen both his rise, and his fall.

Still, this wasn’t a sure sign he was going to lose, and in fact, Tyson did hurt McBride badly a couple of times, especially to the body. However, it wasn’t as much the fight that I found interesting; it was the comments and actions of Mike Tyson after his defeat that shocked me. What I saw left me asking, “Do we really know who Mike Tyson is?”

One of the main reasons I love boxing is because of the subtleties in the sport. So much goes unnoticed to the casual observer before, during, and after a boxing match. As I have said before, these small cues, such as a momentary glance, a comment made once too often, or a fidgety nervous habit will betray more truth than any ten minute speech ever could. Seeing through all this smoke and mirrors, and understanding the reality of the boxing match in front of you, I think that is what the sport is all about..

These are the reasons I found myself asking if Mike Tyson had us fooled all along. Let me tell you what I mean. When he walked into the ring he was pent up, nervous, and uncomfortable, after, he had the look of a man that had just been absolved of all his sins. Some say he looked devastated and immediately after the fight was stopped it did almost look as though he would break into tears, however, during the post fight interview, he was amazingly calm. He looked relaxed, and he spoke with wisdom. Yes, I will say it again, wisdom. He showed self awareness that I don’t think I have ever seen before in a fighter. I believe that sometime between the fight being stopped, and Tyson conducting his post fight interview, he had an epiphany. I think he made peace with himself, and the fact he will no longer be boxing.

“I am not going to disrespect the sport by losing to this level of opposition”; “You all knew what this was about right?” These comments by Tyson show that he is perfectly aware of his situation, he not only understands that McBride should have been an easy target, he also sees through his own self pride and possesses a crystal clear image of what he has become. He showed this when asked if he would fight on, “I’m no good anymore”. To me he said more in that short sentence than any analysis I have read since.

I think the most striking Mike Tyson comment of the night came when he was asked about a prophecy he once made. Apparently in his younger days, he compared himself to Sonny Liston, and predicted that his life would follow along the same path. When asked about it he said, “That was just something good to write”. Again, a short comment, but in it we find an amazing grasp of what excites people, what fills seats, and what it takes to become famous. It was like he was sitting down and saying, “Okay guys, the gigs up, no use pretending anymore”.

There is no doubt Mike Tyson has struggled with mental issues, but I think we really have to ask ourselves how much of the real Mike Tyson we saw, and how much of “The Baddest Man On The Planet” was only an act by a person who, just like he understands himself now, understood us then.

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Article posted on 13.06.2005

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