A couple of weekends ago I finally picked up Mike Tyson’s autobiography, “Undisputed Truth”, and the title that mentions the word ‘truth’ definitely delivers a heavy dose of it as the author reflects on his life of mistakes, triumphs, losses and tragedies that have been scattered throughout the near-600 pages of paper.
I envy people who had the chance to watch him fight live and in person. I hear, from the anecdotes emitted by many, that no sporting spectacle could/can stand up to a boxing bout featuring the man during his prime (NOTE: at least I had ESPN Classic and, now, YouTube, yeah?). In the book, his retelling of his rise to the top of the pro boxing world amounts to one conclusion, which he says about himself plenty of times, “I was full of shit. Iron Mike was a facade. I was so insecure, and my megalomaniacal mind was spinning.” That’s mere paraphrasing, but he often calls himself, a lot, “el smucko”.
Naturally, with such a book even though you know what’s happened in his life, I found myself rooting for him and facepalming during his recalling of dire moments and strife. He grew up in a rough (understatement) neighborhood which led to an early life of crime, no education and, ultimately, no good at all. When Tyson was sent to a juvenile delinquent center (NOTE: I’m too damn lazy to look up the actual name of the place), he discovered his genuine interest for the sport of boxing due to Brandon Stewart, a former boxer and now a counselor at the place, who eventually introduced Tyson to legendary trainer Cus D’Amato, a man whose name will forever be synonymous with Mike Tyson.
The way Cus D’Amato is written about and remembered is endearing and admirable, and why shouldn’t he be hailed with such high regard? He turned a young kid around into ultimately becoming the youngest heavyweight champion of all-time for when the said aforementioned ‘young kid’ knocked out Trevor Berbick at the age of 20 back in 1986 (which occurred about a year after D’Amato passed away). And that’s only a minor thing that D’Amato did. He truthfully was more than a mentor to Mike Tyson — why, he was a father figure.
Listen, I’m not going to regale you with the entire book, as there’s no point to with all the better, more detailed reviews that exist on the web, but I do recommend it, even if you have no interest in boxing or combat sports for that matter. I was disappointed that he didn’t write all too much about the Buster Douglas fight (he basically summed it up by saying — paraphrasing — “I didn’t train hard, I was partying hard however, Douglas had everything to fight for at the time and that’s basically all he is remembered for”), the two ‘Razor’ Ruddock fights or the Lennox Lewis fight. However, it’s a tale filled with plenty of heartbreak and “how could you?!”-elicited feelings as to how he blew through his money and got himself into a plethora of bullshit where he failed to learn from mistakes.
There’s some humor sprinkled in throughout. The Mitch Green stories are hilarious. He even has a Rick James story to tell!
Speaking of Rick James…
I finished it over the course of about nine days. It was an exhausting read, as if every other page (I’m not exaggerating or engaging in any hyperbole here) is plastered with tales of his cocaine binging or the several (per night) conquests he had with a harem of women that would make Wilt Chamberlain blush. The drug talk in the book rivals that of one of my all-time favorite books, Hunter S. Thompson’s classic, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”!
I’m scanning my bookshelf and I don’t see anything else that would come close to this read in terms of sports autobiographies. The honesty is much appreciated, as honesty itself is a rare commodity. Once again, the title “Undisputed Truth” is fitting. Mike Tyson is extremely erudite and, these days, very self-aware and, as also previously stated, reflective and truthful about who he was and who he is today.
I just have to wonder how things would have turned out if Cus D’Amato had lived longer, or if Tyson had retained Kevin Rooney as a trainer or had he never gotten himself involved with that energy zapping, gold digging wench Robin Givens (be skeptical of women whose first name starts with an “R”, folks; heh!) who led him on, deceived him and gave him a taste of the ‘real’ world. How about if he’d never met up with that molecular structured subhuman piece of shit Don King? He could have been the heavyweight champion for, perhaps, a decade! It’s all speculation, of course, but it’s something to ponder.