Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

On His Back: The End Of Iron Mike?

Illustration for article titled On His Back: The End Of Iron Mike?

I'm not especially fascinated by Mike Tyson but I love Mark Jacobson so when I ran across this story Mark wrote for the Voice back in 2002, well I just had to share:

Here in Memphis, 70 miles north of where Robert Johnson supposedly came one midnight to barter his soul in return for playing the deepest blues, Mike Tyson lay on sky-blue floor beneath the blinding light trying to push his nose back in place. The former Brownsvillemugger of old ladies, reader of Voltaire and Tolstoy, convicted rapist, hip-hop icon, and multimillion-dollar meal ticket, Tyson was bleeding from around both eyes, and the tattoo of Mao Tse-tung on his bicep bore a nasty scrape. Whatever bargain Iron Mike had struck with Master of the Crossroads (some call him the Devil, but then again some call Tyson the Devil) was over now.

Well, everyone said, at least Tyson took his beating like a man, whatever that means. Though he had sworn to eat his opponent Lennox Lewis's children (even though Lewis has no children), Tyson didn't bite anyone's ears, try to break someone's arm, punch the referee, kick, gouge, or even curse, at least not audibly. After an opening snarl and a couple of left hooks for old time's sake, Tyson mostly just stood there, getting hit, over and over, by the towering Lewis. Only days before, Mike vowed to smear his opponent's "pompous brains" across the canvas like a Jackson Pollock painting. Now, smiling through bloody lips, he said he loved Lewis and the Jamaican Brit's mother too. This was called gallant, a public relations coup for Iron Mike, the potential beginning of his rechanneling into polite society.

Rationally, he never figured in this fight. Lewis, a half-foot taller, and nothing if not a highly proficient champion, might have beaten Tyson even on his best day. That day, of course, is long past. Already in decline at age 22, Tyson, now 35, has not beaten a decent fighter in more than 10 years. Evander Holyfield knocked him out in 1996, a year before the ear-chomp incident. During his four years in the joint he wasn't allowed to train; outside, in a semi-thug's life of near constant turmoil, he barely jumped rope. There were all kinds of stories about Tyson's handlers slipping lithium and Zoloft into his mashed potatoes and oatmeal, because Tyson wouldn't take the stuff voluntarily. The medicine was supposed to manage his rage, a chancy psychopharmacological regimen for a boxer. Plus, as any male who has taken a serotonin-reuptake drug knows, it can make it difficult to ejaculate. How that fucking without coming was supposed to assuage Mike Tyson's rage is anyone's guess.

[Photo Credit: Associated Press]

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