A moment in our lives comes when fragrance, music, taste, old photos, make us remember times long gone, about beautiful places where you ate a certain food, danced with someone that you enjoyed. A smell that makes you remember long-gone loves, but which have gone away forever. The presence in Mexico of the boxing destroyer Mike Tyson took me to countless mementos that make me live again the thrills and emotions of past boxing.
The opening press conference in Mexico City had as many cameras as I had seen in a long, long time. It brought me back to a long time ago day when my dear friend, the late Jim Jacobs, brought to me a video showing the future bomber, even more than Joe Louis, he said, with his 18 KOs in the first round of his first 18 fights. I was impressed, but recommended Jim to keep him fighting to really become what he said.
A few years later, Don King came as his new promoter and Jim's associate, to give him the opportunity to fight champion Trevor Berbick for the WBC heavyweight world title. Tyson became the youngest heavy weight champion of the world at 20 years of age.
A kid, an orphan, and in jail since he was 14, received a gift from God with the coming of Cus D'Amato as his trainer. D'Amato could not enjoy his boy becoming champion, as he passed away about a year before. That evening, Tyson went all over the hotel, casinos, lobbies, and more, wearing his WBC green and gold belt. The following day, with the style of Don King, Tyson was crowned, yes, he received a diamond crown that Muhammad Ali and I gave him, embarrassing for me, the red robe of a king. That night the poor child jumped from poverty to a first step to become one of the greatest of all time.
The day came when he set the highest income in sports by winning more than $30 million in only a little more than the one minute when he defeated Michael Spinks, who stayed on the canvas as long as the fight lasted. Some said that Mike did it out of his outrage caused by Butch Lewis, my late dear friend, for making him wrap his hands twice. It is impossible to ever forget that little piece of Evander Holyfield's ear, which fell to the canvas very close to where I was sitting, after two bites on the ear from Tyson. Nobody in the arena or on TV could explain what had happened. Tyson was desperate for the many head butts from Evander, without any action from the referee. Tyson showed that night what he always claimed: that he was the baddest man on earth.
During the last WBC convention in Las Vegas, I asked Evander to present Mike with his Lifetime Boxing Excellency Award, that he hesitantly presented, while those two boxing barbarians hugged amicably with esteem and mutual respect, an example of what boxing is. What would I give for politicians and promoters doing the same…
How can I forget the savage knockout of Larry Holmes, also one of the greatest ever. I was sad to see that, but it was the punishment that life gives to all those that don’t understand when their cycle of glory is gone. It also happened to Joe Louis, Ali, Ray Leonard, J.C. Chavez, and so many, many others, including Tyson himself.
Tyson, in his prime, married an artist who pushed him into decline, a real drama of someone born in a humble bed, reaching the skies and being dropped mercilessly by one he loved. The same happened when he was blatantly discriminated against by an all-white jury who sent him to jail for the accusation of sex abuse of a girl who went late at night to his room in a hotel — like, for an autograph?
He could not mentally accept the actions of his first wife, and later going to jail. The life of that extraordinary fighter who always had sold-out arenas, who provoked passion and excitement with the power of his fists, with the cheering of his race and the discrimination of others, fell all the way down in the deepest of vices and disgrace. It looked as if the great Mike Tyson was following the path of most fighters who are born in the humblest of beds: to reach glory, money, and beautiful women, then to fall after the lights of their career are off into poverty, hunger, pity, and only dreaming in nostalgia with tears of their times of glory.
But no, Mike Tyson flew from his ashes again into the world, after finding a gracious new wife who has led him away from the dirt to send him back to live in glory. A new Mike Tyson, representing still the greatness of his career in boxing, but now into the lives of those who get up from the canvas and continue their lives struggling for being good, and with success. I will leave the life of this man, whose life I lived very close to during all of his career with his ups and downs, as an example for the young of the world of how to struggle to leave the night behind and move into being someone to follow with his deeds of a good man, carrying with pride his life, like a diamond in boxing, to leave an indelible mark of his passing through life.
Mexico received him in victory with millions of flashes, the applause and admiration that he has always had from Mexicans. Mauricio and I took him to the airport with a feeling of being so proud of the man that once was the baddest man on earth, to one who today is a good human being with a history of glory.
Thank you for reading my thoughts.