My dad and his buddies swore that Iron Mike in his hay day was the last great heavyweight boxing champion. A lot of people share this perception; most of them boxing fans. To the rest of us, this man is more popular for a number of horrifically menacing spectacles and crimes. I can’t personally let him off the hook for being a convicted criminal, and biting the ear off of one of my hero’s when I was in junior high (shortly thereafter I denounced all recreational sports in favor of guitar playing and skateboarding.) However, in the past decade or so, Mike Tyson has made an effort to reshape his public image.
In 2005, Tyson publicly stated “My whole life has been a waste,” claiming he was a failure, and was considering being a missionary. In 2008, he showed a softer side of himself with the James Toback directed documentary “Tyson,” which was critically acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival. In it, he speaks intimately of both his relationship with trainer Cus D’Amato, and yes, his 300 pet pigeons. Following this, his media presence escalated. Tyson appeared in both “Hangover” movies, and was a featured guest on the Ellen Degenerous show promoting his reality series on Animal Planet, and claiming to be free of drugs and alcohol. He apparently adopted a Vegan Diet as well.
The question is, are we ready to forgive and forget? The videos of Tysons outrageously racist, sexist, and homophobic outbursts are still viral on youtube. He attacked and bit boxer Lennox Lewis, his former manager Don King, and even assaulted two motorists in a traffic incident in the early 2000s. His crashing career made a mockery of the sport of boxing, and it has never really recovered. Strangely enough, many media moguls are ready to accept the new Tyson. Law and order actually cast this convicted rapist as a rape victim earlier this year. Here’s a link to some unhappy viewers response to that: http://joyfulheartfoundation.org/wordpress/response-to-concerns-over-casting-of-mike-tyson-on-law-order-special-victims-unit/
Regardless of how real people feel about it, Tyson is on tour with his “Undisputed Truth, Directed by Spike Lee, and the media is ready to start selling him again. I wonder if the westoboro baptist “church” will show up. I would actually pay to see that. They better wear their ear muffs.
Mike Tyson, “Undisputed Truth” Balboa Theatre, Tuesday March 5th 7:30pm