Snoop Dogg’s Tyson take: “Two of my uncles fighting at the barbecue.”
Thirty-five years after making his professional boxing debut in 1985 as an 18-year-old who would go on to win 26 of his first 28 fights, Mike Tyson was back in the ring Saturday night in LA fighting Roy Jones, Jr. If you add their ages together, you arrive at 105. So give them credit, even if the match (judged a draw) involved more hugging and clutching than actual solid punches thrown during more than eight two-minute rounds.
By the way, two minutes may not sound like a long time unless you’ve ever put on a pair of boxing gloves and boxed. Is there any more demanding sport? I don’t think so, and I only did it twice.
The thing about the fight that drew the most attention, however, was the colorful tweet and verbal commentary made by rapper Snoop Dogg as the fight progressed: “This $#@% like two of my uncles fighting at the barbecue.” Obviously, Snoop comes from humble stock. If you’ve been brought up in a dysfunctional home setting, sadly, this is what goes on – grown men get into fights. The kids see it, and the cycle continues.
Getting back to Mike Tyson, the thing that people remember about him the most is the night he bit both ears attached to the skull of boxer Evander Holyfield, actually biting off a piece of his right ear in the process. That occurred in June of 1997, after which he had his boxing license rescinded. He was also fined $3 million. Two years later, he was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for assaulting two motorists after a traffic accident.
From then on, Tyson’s life has been one conflict after another, including financial problems, and legal problems tied to drug possession (cocaine). He’s been broke and relatively wealthy more times than one can count, and yet, like the Energizer bunny, he keeps on ticking.
In an interview with USA Today in 2005, Tyson said, “My whole life has been a waste – I’ve been a failure. I just want to escape. I’m really embarrassed with myself and my life. I want to be a missionary. I think I could do that while keeping my dignity without letting people know they chased me out of the country. I want to get this part of my life over as soon as possible. In this country nothing good is going to come of me. People put me so high; I wanted to tear that image down.”
Indeed, the 2005 interview was followed with more arrests for drug possession and driving under the influence. Whatever demons he had whispering in his ear never seemed to take a vacation. His father abandoned him at a young age, his mom died when he was 16, and the great boxing trainer who became his legal guardian, Cus D’Amato, died of pneumonia at the age of 77, leaving the 19-year-old Tyson ready for the picking by the likes of Don King, the boxing promoter who once stomped one of his employees to death. King, with the frizzy hair, only served three years and 11 months for the homicide. In ’83, thanks to his fame and who knows what else, Ohio Governor James Rhodes (a Republican) pardoned Don King for the voluntary manslaughter conviction.
Whatever one might say about Mike Tyson, the guy’s life is worthy of reading for those interested in the human condition. He’s been hounded by addictions to drugs and alcohol for so long, the fact that his pickled liver could still climb into a boxing ring last Saturday and duke it out with a former professional boxer, when he’s 54 years old, says a lot about his willingness to still cling to life.
His life still breeds controversy even when he’s outside the ring. One day, he’s a devout Muslim, the next day (2013), he’s quoted as saying, “The more I look at churches and mosques, the more I see the devil.” Could be because that’s where the devil is likely to hang out, which is probably why one sees so many Protestant church pastors dumping their wives for the younger, sexier church secretary.
In 2015, Tyson supported Trump for president. Coincidentally, it was Trump who bid $11 million in 1987 to host Tyson’s fight with Michael Spinks at the Atlantic City Convention Hall, which is adjacent to Trump Plaza.
This year was the first time Tyson could vote in an election, thanks to Nevada’s voting reform for convicted felons. The boxer wouldn’t say how he was voting this election. Smart man, considering how it’s so divided the country.
In today’s sad world, we can all use a little diversion from the real news of the day. Thanks, Mike, for giving us a little distraction amid this $#%&@*# pandemic. Hope you can stay sober, amigo.