By James Blears
"Iron" Mike Tyson is convinced the US government will become increasingly involved in legislating sports, and he’s sure that the hard knocks of boxing, are inextricably linked to the rough and tumble of cut throat politics, and he speaks from personal experience when he states that you can’t put an old head on young shoulders.
Words of wisdom indeed, from the former formidable fighter who spent most of his ring career, trying to separate opponents’ heads from the rest of their anatomy.
Mike - articulate, trim and genial, and at ease with life, has been the guest of Mexico’s Tourism Board at an event in downtown Mexico City.
In a sit down interview afterwards, Mike KO’d the logic of anyone trying to talks sense into the head of a wunderkind boxing champion, who has the world… as well as opponents at his feet. He ruefully reflected: “You can’t say anything, because he’s just not going to listen. You say good luck brother. That’s all. I didn’t listen to what people told me, although I knew what happened to Muhammad Ali, Jose Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson.
“People say these guys are tough. But they mean tough, because boxers can endure and not give up. That’s why people admire fighters.”
Mike doesn’t believe that boxers at the end of a ring career should undergo a crash course on how to duck the hard knocks that the next phase of their lives can deal them. He’s convinced that Government is going to play an increasing hands on role in the coming years, explaining: “It’s a new day. This is what’s going to happen, and real soon. There is going to be health insurance and all that. Government is going to have to get involved in sports, I believe.”
Ask a layman about today’s heavyweight division, and names won’t trip off the tongue, like Ali, Marciano, Dempsey and Sullivan of yester year. Mike bluntly suggests people don’t know, because they don’t retain any interest. He insists that knowledge is power, and as a student of the game he of all people should know.
Explaining that the origin of the red and the blue corners, can be traced back to political parties, Mike said they egged on their champions, who’s fists decided what wards and districts would go to whom, via a controlled slugfest, rather than a full scale riot.
Mike suggests: “That’s how politics became involved in boxing, and that’s why politics is so like boxing. Once you’re in the ring you don’t know who’s going to win until the fight is over, and everything goes!
“They say they’ve got rules, but when you’re in there fighting, everything goes. Head butts, elbows- everything, between the two fighters. The unsanctioned rules of boxing.”
Mike doesn’t dwell on what might have been, but rather on what actually currently is. He reflects: “Everything happens for a reason, because I’m doing well for myself, I have the respect of my family, I’m not the guy I used to be, and I’m living life on my terms.”