Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The troubled Mr. Tyson

After 10 hours of driving Saturday night, I was ready to hit the bed hard when I stopped in Lexington again on the way home from Charleston. But no, I had to watch a little ESPN SportsCenter. And once I saw that Mike Tyson had lost to a giant Irish potato named Kevin McBride, I had to stay up and watch the post-fight analysis and interviews.

So after a couple of days, it's clear that it really happened, right? Tyson - maybe the most fearsome and charismatic heavyweight boxer that I had ever seen in my life, and title character of a video game I spent hours playing as a kid - just gave up after six rounds, deciding he didn't want to fight anymore? Are you kidding me?

(For another perspective on what we thought of Mike Tyson as kids, I refer you to my friend Chris, whose blog is back up and running. Welcome back, man. I remember those lunch table conversations.)

Watching the post-fight press conference, if you'd turned the sound down, you would've surely thought that Tyson won the match. He didn't have a mark on him. He was jovial and entertaining. Hell, he looked ready to go clubbing. Meanwhile, McBride's sitting next to him stammering his words with a blotchy face and pushed-in nose. He looked like he'd been in a fight.

In a post-fight interview with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap, Tyson said he no longer had the stomach for boxing and was thinking about doing missionary work. And on Monday evening's SportsCenter, Schaap speculated that this was a sign of Tyson finally maturing into adulthood. In today's Washington Post, Michael Wilbon seemed to agree that Tyson's amazing candor after the fight might indicate that he really means it when he says he's done with boxing.

Tyson is such a sad story. Just listening to him talk about how messed up he is almost makes you want to give him a hug. He obviously has a lot of demons running around in his head, and has spent most of his life fighting them. And many people surrounding him over the years have taken advantage of that. The likely reason Tyson continued to fight was because he owes the IRS so much money.

So if you go on with this missionary thing, I hope it works out for you, Mike. I hope you find what it is you're looking for. I'll be looking for you because, no matter what, I find myself wanting to watch what you do. Maybe you can replace Sally Struthers on those Save the Children commercials.