Friday, July 10, 2009

Days Of Grace

Damage repeats itself, the line between victim and victimizer a thin one. Watching the new documentary about Iron Mike, Tyson, I found myself dizzied by the complexities. Tyson talks to the camera for most of the film while scenes from his former glories and disasters play in the background like the fights he himself watched as a young fighter under the tutelage of his mentor/trainer Cus D'Amato. Cus D'Amato took Tyson under his car as a very young juvenile delinquent (38 arrests before he was 13) and taught him the spiritual path of the warrior along with how to sense fear in the other fighter's eyes and bring him down. Like most profound relationships, Tyson can't entirely articulate why Cus D'Amato's death so unravelled him to the point that he still can't talk about it twenty years after the fact without crying. Perhaps his most simple comment proves the most effective and poignant: "I didn't have my friend no more. I felt naked to the world."

Perhaps the most surprising part of the movie is the impression of searing honesty it presents about the most personal of subjects: fear, sex, money, identity. No sugarcoating here -- Tyson takes credit and blame in equal measure, only denying the rape charge for which he served three years in prison. If Cusmato's death undid him, prison finished the job. He came out a changed man, more fearful and violent than ever, prone to black-outs common to trauma victims. To watch him yell at a reporter, "I'll fuck you till you love me, you faggot," provokes fear even now. By he time he loses to a much lesser opponent, he seems broken in a way that is cringe-worthy to watch. "I'm doing it to pay the bills," this once great boxer says after the match. To compare this to his former self breaks the heart. Despite his rage, distrust, troubles with women ("I never knew it took so much out of you to conquer a woman"), I found myself envying him. He speaks of some of his tattoos, but the one I noticed he never mentioned. It reads "Days Of Grace." For a short time before the inevitable black lights of life took him down, he was the youngest heavyweight champion of the world. To do exactly what you are put on earth to do, however briefly, is a feeling most of us have int he most fleeting of moments, usually only recognized in hindsight. But for Tyson, "a kid who never left the street corner," he knew his moment.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson

Cocktail Hour
New mojito video this weekend!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!


Anonymous said...

He shouldn't have bit the guy's ear off.--Sonny Liston

the walking man said...

As I was reading this I couldn't help but think of the melt down Dennis Rodman had when Chuck Daley retired. He was also workman like and contained as long as his mentor was there.

When Tyson first hit the big time I saw a picture of him. His Biceps were as big as my thighs and he was a fighters, fighter. Ruthless until he had his opponent beat. Just awesome to watch.

I think he'd been better equipped to deal with the death of Cusamato had he been better prepared for the inevitable leeches and hangers on. Robin Givens may not have been the worst thing to happen to him but her mother certainly ranked right up there in the top 2.

I think the man has matured now and that is what his legacy will be and should be, how he lives his life after what must have been the worst loss of all...the death of his little girl.

Whitenoise said...


JR's Thumbprints said...

I knew an inmate who beat Mike Tyson twice. They were both amateur boxers at the time. Sad things is, this inmate worked the bag every day while in prison, waiting for one more opportunity to step into the ring. When he got his parole, within a month he fought at the Palace and won. Within a year he killed himself. Sad. Truly sad.

Jason said...

I'm looking forward to seeing that movie myself.

Pop culture blips like him, people that seem to capture the entire world's attention, are fascinating to me.

Charles Gramlich said...

Well, I didn't think it could be done, but you've made me think of Mike Tyson with a bit of sympathy. I just thought he was an ass, although I was certainly saddened to hear of his child's death.

Scott said...


I'd heeard that this wa san interesting documentary...I wasn't a big fan of Tyson, but after hearing about this doc, I did feel some sympathy for him. Sometimes things, and people, are more complicated than they appear to be...and I think often we have our own image of celebreties that we really have no business having since we really don't known them as people.

Can't wait to see your mojito vid!

JR's Thumbprints said...

Here's what's truly sad: that boxing inmate I knew - he never beat Tyson as an amateur. I had the wrong professional boxer. It was Evander Holyfield he beat. I've got to work on my memory. What's sadder: having been in the limelight once, or never making it?

jodi said...

Hi Beauty, Mike Tyson has always had that strange combination of curiousity and revulsion for me. Dude could sure box, tho. xo