No athlete has been more dominant in his sport while at the same time being so self-destructive and contradictory to the ethos of that sport than Iron Mike Tyson. His storied career is inexorably intertwined with his bad-boy image and, now, his road to recovery and redemption.
From the moment Mike Tyson laced up his first pair of boxing gloves, it was clear he was something special. At only 13, the legendary trainer Cus D’Amato looked at Tyson and proclaimed that he would become heavyweight champion of the world. Coming from the cantankerous D’Amato, that wasn’t a compliment to be taken lightly — after all, this was a man who found room to criticize Muhammad Ali’s fighting style, spirit and résumé. To boxing fans, the story thereafter is a familiar one: Tyson went on win the National Golden Gloves, then became the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history and the first to unify the WBA, WBC and IBF titles.
The Tyson story is so familiar that some might wonder exactly what “Undisputed Truth,” Tyson’s autobiography, actually offers. If you’ve seen Tyson’s Broadway show, however, you would realize that behind the well-publicized stories of Tyson’s life there are big and small unseen twists and turns that add much needed detail to the monolithic character that most think of when they hear the name Mike Tyson.
“Undisputed Truth” also offers us something more basic and unique. Despite the research, effort and analysis of even the best journalists and historians, no one has the capacity to better answer the question “why” than the primary source. Why did Tyson say he would eat Lennox Lewis’ children? Why did he sit quietly, almost expressionless, next to Robin Givens as she lambasted him in a 1988 interview with Barbara Walters? And why in recent years has the former “baddest man on the planet” been so willing to cry passionately at what seems the mere mention of his father figure/trainer, Cus D’Amato?
Readers will find answers to these questions and so many more in Tyson’s book. Below are a just a few brief glimpses into the life of the man that captured the imagination of the entire world with his fury and his fists.
A former college wrestler, Taekwondo black-belt, and wannabe boxer, Paul Navarro (aka Fight Like Sugar) is now a full-time lawyer, part-time fight scribe, and high school wrestling coach.