by James Slater – It is well known how former heavyweight king Mike Tyson is a well educated person when it comes to the long history of the sport he himself excelled in. Tyson has a deep passion for boxing and the sport’s old time fighters, and he has studied countless fights on video tape. “Iron” Mike has also made it his business to pay his respects at the grave sites of some of his favourite fighters who are no longer with us: Sonny Liston’s final resting place in Las Vegas, out near the airport, being one of them.
And while he will be in Cardiff, Wales next week – as part of his latest UK speaking tour – Tyson will pay a visit to the grave side of “The Matchstick Man,” Johnny Owen. The bantamweight from Merthyr Tydfil was, as older fans will remember, tragically killed due to injuries he suffered during his world title challenge of Mexico’s Lupe Pintor in September of 1980..
Owen, aged just 24 at the time, fought courageously in the WBC bantamweight title fight, before being the victim of a quite brutal-looking KO in the 12th round. Taken from the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles on a stretcher, the fallen warrior died just short of two months later, having been in a coma since the fight – the loss being only the second of his four year career.
How nice it is that Mike Tyson remembers Johnny and cares enough to go out of his way to pay his respects to him. Most of the time, it is the negative stuff Tyson has been guilty of doing in the past that gets ink devoted to it. But, as this caring gesture goes to show, the 43-year-old ex-champ ain’t all bad, not by a long shot.
Wales online also reports how the former heavyweight champ will pay a visit to the statue of former WBC featherweight champion Howard Winstone while in Wales. Winston, also from Merthyr and having passed away at the age of just 61 in 2000, is clearly another fine fighter from days gone by that Tyson admires.
Indeed, Mike lists many great fighters from the past as men who gave inspiration to him as he was working his way to the world title, and the two Welsh legends are among them.
Tyson’s speaking date while in Cardiff is set for November 8th.