Tyson at Fifty

Mike Tyson turned fifty this week.

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming.

There are few people years ago would’ve bet the farm that Tyson would’ve been gone by now. When you’re considered “The Baddest Man on the Planet” like Tyson was, normally things spiral downward quickly when that man gets beat.

I remember the night that Buster Douglas knocked out Tyson in Tokyo. The fight was live on HBO but we didn’t have that on campus. So a bunch of us did what we normally did on Saturday night. We went downtown to one of the bars and had fun. But when we got back and were heading down the halls to our room, my friend Mark busted out of his room and yelled out that Tyson got knocked out. We piled into Mark’s room to watch ESPN report on the upset. I can still remember the image of Tyson being helped to his locker room, the former champ staggering back with his eye swollen shut.

This was Mike Tyson, the heavyweight champion of the world, knocked senseless. He was supposed to be dispatching of foes not the other way around. His star power was bigger Michael Jordan back in the 80’s. This fight was supposed to be a tuneup for the megafight with Evander Holyfield coming up next.

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But then there was the loss. Then came the rape conviction and jail time, the two losses to Holyfield and the ear bite seen around the world. He tried to break an opponent’s arm in the ring, knocked out by Lennox Lewis and Danny Williams, and finally quitting on his stool in his last fight.

I won’t even get into the bankruptcy, the failed marriages, or the strange facial tattoo.

This wasn’t supposed to end well. He was supposed to spiral downward into a final, fatal crash and burn.

But time has a way of healing. It has a way of showing different doors and windows to a different view of life. It’s up to the person to make the choices. Mike Tyson made some missteps along the way but made different choices. “The Baddest on the Planet” opened up and said a few times that he messed up. He told his story. First in Vegas and then on Broadway.

Mike Tyson did Broadway. He performed in an opening number for the Tony Awards.

Who saw that coming?

Mike Tyson turned fifty. He is not now what he once was and from my observation, he’s okay with that.

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