"We have a strong urge to idolize greatness and to judge harshly when the great ones fall from the pinnacle on which we have placed them."
So is the story of Malik Abdul Aziz, popularly known as Mike Tyson, the former undisputed champion of the world.
Tyson, considered as one of the most charismatic and most popular fighters of his era, has experienced the ups and downs not only in his boxing career, but through life in general.
He sure had his good times, custom-made diamond jewelry, Siberian tigers, 3000 pigeons, the mansions, and the luxurious car collections. But as one song says, "All good things come to an end." Tyson, like any other man, had his hard times.
"People put me so high, I wanted to tear that image down." (USA Today, June 3 2005)
In 1992, Tyson was convicted of raping a beauty pageant contestant and was sentenced to a three-year imprisonment. Afterwards, he made a comeback to the sport that made him famous, though he was far from his winning ways.
He was no longer the Tyson of old. Critics labeled his opponents as "tomato cans" and claimed he'd lost that Tyson-like fury. And then more controversies arose.
His first wife, actress Robin Givens, described life with him:
"Torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could possibly imagine." (ABC TV News magazine 20/20)
He fought his way to a title, claimed it, and eventually lost it to Evander Holyfield. In the rematch, after finding out he couldn't solve the Holyfield puzzle, Tyson got disqualified for biting Holyfield's ear—twice.
It was the first incident of its kind in the sport—and perhaps the start of the end for heavyweight boxing.
"He realized he couldn't whup me, and he got frustrated." (Time magazine, Evander Holyfield-Richard Lacayo)
After the so-called "Bite-fight," Tyson still fought, but the effects were obvious. If you ask about Mike Tyson, the typical person would answer "Ah, the one who bit his opponent's ear." It did not only hurt his image, but also boxing's image as a whole.
His exploits outside the ring become more frequent.
In 1999, he served another year in jail, was fined $5,000, and was put under probation for assaulting two motorists in a traffic incident.
A year later, his supposed win against Andrew Golota was ruled a no contest because Tyson was tested positive for marijuana in the post-fight urine analysis.
In 2003, after earning nearly $400 million in his career, Tyson filed for bankruptcy. He still owes $23 million to creditors.
According to Tyson's financial filings, he has spent $1.1 million in gifts since 1998 on people whose names he could not recall.
''I was so belligerent, I was so cantankerous, so persistently dis-regardless. I wasn't that nice of a person. Just because you buy mansions and cars doesn't mean you know what money is worth." (New York Times, June 23, 2004)
On September 24, 2007, Tyson pleaded guilty to possession and driving under the influence of narcotics.
"My whole life has been a waste, I've been a failure." (USA Today, June 3, 2005)
Michael Gerard Tyson, the baddest man on the planet. You can judge him, you can call him filthy names, you can say whatever you want, but after the smoke clears out, he's still the one you're rooting for.
Truly, when the band stops playing, the people really stop dancing.
All is not lost, change is constant.
You never know, Tyson might find the path to righteousness and end up as your parish priest. Who knows?
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