feature Wednesday, 08 January 2014

Mike Tyson, once the baddest man on the planet, turns mentor to Ricky Hatton

Danny Flexen catches up with a changing man

MIKE TYSON has come a long way, so far in fact that the reformed hellraiser has recast himself in the role of mentor to Ricky Hatton, his friend and fellow former champion. Though thousands of miles away from the Manchester man, Tyson told Boxing News that he hopes “The Hitman” has put his well-documented troubles firmly behind him amid recent tabloid reports of a supposed split with his partner.

“I wanted the best for Ricky, he really deserves the best,” Tyson enthused. “He don’t need to be depressed or not knowing where’s he’s gonna be going in his life. He needs to take care of his babies and let his babies be happy that their father was a great fighter. The hell with your friends in the pubs, marry your girlfriend, stay with your family and develop your family. If I can do it, I know Ricky can do it.”

Tyson has his own problems to contend with though, thankfully, compared to the travails of the past, they are merely minor irritations. One such annoyance was the recent change in the UK immigration laws that prevented Mike’s visit to our shores to promote his new autobiography, Undisputed Truth. Even this setback served to elicit Tyson’s enduring love for Great Britain.

“My lawyers are going to handle that but me personally, I desperately wanna get over there,” Tyson stressed. “You can have cops with me, you can have somebody chauffeur me, somebody could follow me from the legal system. I need to be over there and feel that energy over there. That means if Nelson Mandela didn’t die, he wouldn’t be able to go to Great Britain either, right?

“All I ever thought about was to get to the West End. What’s the name of the street the Grosvenor House is on, again? Park Lane? I lived in Park Lane for a long period of time. I miss the Grosvenor House. I have friends over there and I don’t want to be another 10 years and they’ll be dead or sick. The only problem I ever had in England was that one altercation with Frank Warren.”

The Undisputed Truth book is Tyson’s latest project and follows his one-man stage show of the same name and the HBO movie version of that. With a reality show kicking off on Fox Sports 2 in the US and Fox UK, ‘Iron’ Mike has rarely been busier. And it all began with the Spike Lee-directed stage show and Tyson’s desire to replicate the captivating effect he had in his fighting prime.

“I tell the truth from an entertainment perspective, because if I just told it from a real raw perspective – ‘This is my life’ – I’d start feeling sorry for myself and I may break down,” he admits. “So I do it objectively and that’s why I’m able to do it with a lot of desire, spirit, energy and fun.

“I saw Chazz Palminteri, A Bronx Tale, on stage, and he inspired me. Although we were in a theatre, you could hear every word he said. You’re focused on him and nothing could take your attention off of him. And I said, ‘I wanna make people feel the way he just made me feel.’ And I said, ‘I think I can do this, because when I’m in Europe and Asia, I’m talking about my life and taking questions from people in the stands. But if I do it in America, I’ll do it like Mr Palminteri.”

Tyson’s promotional company is also growing rapidly. Iron Mike Productions recently helped stage a Friday Night Fights show on which their man, Argenis Mendez, was knocked out against Rances Barthelemy by punches landed after the bell to end the second round. Tyson’s new mindset is reflected in his refusal to castigate referee, Pete Podgorski, and his self-criticism at what was a quite reasonable reaction.

“He’s human to so we can’t beat him up,” the former “Baddest Man on the Planet” said. “I just made a complaint.

“It was a good fight but my guy didn’t stand a chance though. One way whatsoever, my guy didn’t stand a chance in there. That’s the truth, he was getting hit too often, wasn’t moving his head enough, throwing one punch at a time, loading up and this guy’s very elusive.

“I’m a promoter and I have to try and not take this stuff too personal. I can’t fall in love with these fighters. That’s the number one rule in boxing. I sometimes fall in love with the fighters because it’s a great thing, it’s awesome and I just love fighters but I’ve got to become more professional. That was a test for me, I should have been more reserved in that situation.”


Author : Danny Flexen


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