Iron Mike Tyson’s freak show behaviour inflicts largely internal damage but comeback is on.
Convictions for rape, drugs and violence leave Tyson some way below the leader of the British National Party in the affections of liberal folk, and we saw how low that was with the acidic reception Nick Griffin received on Question Time.
The BBC is on a roll. Today, three days after opening its doors to Griffin it gave a platform to Iron Mike in an interview on FiveLive’s Sportsweek. It must be world ogre week at the Beeb. The audience figures for Griffin, at eight million, four times the average for Question Time, demonstrate the public’s appetite for a kicking.
However, BBC Bosses were stunned when Tyson admitted he was back in training for one last tilt at glory on the world stage. Tyson has been promised a shot at Vitali Klitschko if he comes through a warm up fight, probably against Ruslan Chagaev, the Uzbeki fighter, in March. It is believed the Chagaev fight has been agreed for Las Vegas, with both fighters splitting the purse down the middle. This is seen as a chance for redemption for Tyson that no-one would begrudge him.
Again this is not to defend or excuse his violent output outside the ring in adulthood, only to account for the pathology in his behaviour. Show me the brutalised youth and I will show you the brute, as it were. Of course, not every ghetto child turns into a monster. But Brooklyn and his unique interaction with it certainly did for the young Tyson.
The BBC are not the only institution fascinated with Tyson’s celebrity. Next month he begins a four-date British tour, opening his heart for pay, rather than punching for it. Earlier this month Tyson was given the full Oprah treatment, thrust back into the soft focus of the talk show by the death of his four-year-old daughter, Exodus, in a tragic accident. Tyson likes doing such touring but now his mind has started to wander towards his final comeback into the ring.
This time it will be different, It has to be, he said.
To return to the old Mike, to give in to the demons, the drugs, the debauchery, would be to pen his own end. Tyson is not the first reformist pug to turn a page, to distance himself from the bogey man that was. If he pulls it off it will be a conversion to rival Paul’s on the Damascus road.
Tyson has been at war with his inner beast from the moment Cus D’Amato yanked him out of the teenage detention centre and, in the quiet of the Catskills, turned him into the youngest heavyweight champion in history. Had D’Amato not passed away so soon into Tyson’s reign he might have delayed the internal combustion. Might.