In his prime, Mike Tyson was, as one of his many nicknames makes clear, the Baddest Man on the Planet. However, Iron Mike had and continues to have issues away from the ring.
The 47-year-old New York native was 37-0, including multiple title triumphs, before things began to spiral out of control. His fall in the boxing world occurred on Feb. 11, 1990, when he lost the undisputed championship to 42-1 long shot Buster Douglas.
Tyson talked about everything he went through with Donald McRae of The Guardian. The issues on a personal level began well before he became known as Kid Dynamite, a nickname he earned with amazing natural power that led to 44 knockouts out of his 50 wins.
He says in the interview that he reached a point where he lost his way and didn't know how or when the whirlwind would end: "I surrendered to a higher power. I said, 'Help me. I can't do nothing no more. Guide me. God, whoever. I don't know what to do …'"
The legendary boxer, whose lasting legacy is still being shaped as he continues the process of rebuilding his life, endured many rough moments. From spurts of violence and mistreatment of women to the death of his daughter in 2009, it's been a unique and often unfortunate tale.
Tyson points to moments of his childhood where his mother would beat him, which had a permanent impact on his outlook:
Even today, I don't like looking at a corner of a room. I still think of being in the corner getting beaten by my mother. Back then it was like "Holy Moly!" [Tyson laughs] but as you get older it seems funnier. But even though people think of me as "Mike Tyson", this scary guy, I still have that fear today. That's what happens when you're a traumatised kid.
Although he does admit things in his life are still far from perfect, with family relationships that remain strained, including the one with his brother Rodney, Tyson does give off a sense in The Guardian interview that things are beginning to turn around.
He released an autobiographical book, Undisputed Truth, which Rodney, a surgical assistant, acknowledges but has not read. He is also doing a one-man show and created a company called Iron Mike Promotions in the boxing industry.
The promotion is already working toward a television deal:
We're discussing this deal with Fox TV where we get 32 fights a year. Man, if that happens we'll be in the driving seat. It looks real good. This is the moment. The two shows we did recently superseded all the ratings ESPN had for their Friday Night Fights. But I never anticipated this thing being that difficult. Still, imagine if I was not Mike Tyson and how hard it would be then.
During the final portion of the interview, Tyson says he is working on a piece for the WWE that required seven takes, and he jokes with McRae that in the past he would have smashed the camera. He concludes by saying, "Maybe I'm making progress. Maybe, after everything, I'm doing OK."
Looking ahead, Tyson won't be able to eliminate his tumultuous periods from his memory, and his critics won't forget either. That said, if he can remain on the right path, the way he's viewed can certainly change.
People could once again view him as a boxing star first and everything else second.
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