Tyson vs. Berbick Was Twenty Years Ago Next Wednesday - R.I.P Trevor Berbick

17.11.06 - By James Slater: With the shocking news of former heavyweight champion Trevor Berbickís death still fresh in peopleís minds, the twentieth anniversary of perhaps his most famous ring appearance will be upon us next week. Had Trevor lived, he more than likely would have had some attention bestowed on him once again due to his part in the Mike Tyson story and its beginning at world title level. Largely forgotten by the average fight fan, Berbick, the former WBC champ, was living an obscure life in Jamaica. Those who did remember him, however, were aware of how strange the Berbick life story had become. Or had been. Firstly, Trevor was telling anyone who would listen that the Tyson match had been a dodgy fight, one in which he had only lost because heíd been ďGotten toĒ beforehand.

Berbick claimed that his hotel room had been sprayed with some substance or another and as a result his equilibrium was seriously compromised. He went on to claim that the devastating left hook that Tyson finished him off with - a punch that famously decked him three times! - actually missed his head. This alone let those people close to Trevor know just how badly disillusioned he had become.

His desire to fight again recently enough to have predicted his being able to regain the world title from Lennox Lewis also indicated how badly damaged his mental state appeared to have become. Actually, most experts, though shocked by the fact that he was murdered, admitted how they felt an untimely and sad end was always in store for the boxer turned preacher. It turned out they were right, of course.

Trevorís strange life - what with the street fight with former world champion and one time opponent Larry Holmes, his very strange habit of eating a number of Lobster, shell and all, as his pre-fight meal, and the Tyson fight and his claims regarding it in the following years - could very well make a fascinating movie. The twentieth anniversary of his short and brutal meeting with ďIron MikeĒ would, as Iíve said, more than likely have garnered Berbick a little resurgence publicity-wise. His name once again being mentioned, Trevor may even have appeared on T.V for the first time in a long time. It would have been interesting to hear what he would have had to say. Now, however, he is gone.

Berbick was, in many ways, the epitome of the tragic former boxer. Most of his money went, his mental health seemed to have done likewise and he eventually suffered the ignominy of both serving time in jail for allegedly raping his babysitter and being forced to retire due to abnormalities being found in a brain scan. His final ring appearance though, was a winning one -a points win over Shane Sutcliffe in 2000 in a bout that contested the Canadian heavyweight title. Trevor was, of course, Canadian by birth, but then relocated to The U.S and then Jamaica. Itís fair to say his fifty-two years were eventful but ultimately largely tawdry ones. The fact that he was killed, by his nephew, over a dispute of a financial nature, pretty much sums up this fact. Trevorís end was indeed a pathetically sad one.

A confused, but basically good-hearted guy, Berbick deserved better. As a fighter he was well above average. Not only did he reach the top in relieving the talented Pinklon Thomas of his world crown, Trevor also acquitted himself very well in his fight (the one in the boxing ring) with all-time great, Holmes. Also, though it didnít really mean too much as far as proving his merit as a world class boxer, Berbick defeated Muhammad Ali in Aliís final bout. It is somewhat ironic that the heartbreaking sight the great Ali went on to become had his career ended by an even more tragic figure.

To me, one overwhelming memory always resurfaces whenever Trevor Berbickís name crops up. Some years ago, while in a bar, a video was being played that showcased unintentionally comical moments from the world of sport. There were athletes falling over as they attempted to throw the javelin, coming to grief as they attempted to pole-vault and generally making fools of themselves without getting badly hurt. Then footage of Berbickís fight with Tyson appeared on screen; and people were howling with laughter at Trevorís brave efforts at regaining his feet in that unforgettable second round.

Imagine if you had been the fighter who had been so badly hurt and dazed that you couldnít stand up despite your best efforts. If you were subject to the laughter and amusement that Trevorís pain had resulted in that day in my local bar, how would you have felt? No wonder Berbick convinced himself, and tried to do the same to others, that he had lost that fight due to his having been drugged or manipulated in some such manner. He had to live with himself, didnít he?

In many ways that laughter sums up the cruelty and mean streak there is in all of us. I suppose such negative human characteristics have to be expended on our fellow man, such is our nature. It was just Trevor Berbickís bad luck that he was one such fellow.

Article posted on 18.11.2006

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