For a boxer, being bequeathed a nickname is a sure fire sign that you’ve arrived on the boxing scene. If Mac “The Killer” Jones is fighting Ralph Henderson, “The Killer” has to be the prefight favorite. A sure fire sign that you have completely permeated pop culture is having a dance named after you. Iron Mike Tyson has both.
I was reminded of the reason why today when I watched a bunch of his early knockouts. A barrage of extremely powerful but even more accurate blows turned men into drunken incoherent mice. My amazement shifted from how can he hit that hard to why would anyone let themselves be hit that hard. I derived amusement from Mike’s competitors, dead men walking, realizing only at the moment of first impact, just how hard Tyson punched. There’s something purely entertaining about seeing the exact moment when a person accepts truth. That moment is even more entertaining when it’s accompanied by an uppercut that lifts them off the ground. The truth hurts.
Brutality aside, there was beauty in Tyson’s precision and raw power. Boxing is called the sweet science and Mike Tyson’s practice of the science turned the ring into a revolving lab where grown specimens could visit but not stay longer than a round or two.
I think my buddy and I enjoyed seeing Tyson’s targets drop a little more than we should of. Partly because of an innate desire to witness anything shocking but mainly our laughter was that of the nervous variety, knowing full well that we would have met the exact same fate and probably in half the time.
With fear comes intrigue and Mike Tyson had intrigue to spare. It’s a shame that his quest to legitimately be considered the greatest was derailed by all of his troubles.
Our attraction to beauty and perfection is even greater than our infatuation with shock. When all three are in the same package, it’s unlikely that purity will be left alone to fulfill its promise (see Michael Jackson). There’s also the sadness that most people extremely gifted in one area are necessarily deficient somewhere else. We don’t celebrate balance and consistency. We exalt talent and then feign shock when the other shoe drops.
But now twenty years after he first burst unto the scene, we are still intrigued with Iron Mike; Of course partly because of his antics but always because will be forever indebted to him for blessing us with his talents.
Mike Tyson is from Brooklyn by the way.