How We Destroyed Mike Tyson

by Toni Kan Onwordi

When I saw Mike Tyson go down under the huge impact and relentless force of Lennox Lewis’ armada of punches, I felt a constriction in my throat and a stinging in my eyes.

Had I been younger and less in control off my emotions, I would have dissolved into tears.

Why would I cry? The answer is a simple one. There is something about the fall of an empire, the collapse of an ideal, the ambush of a dream, the routing of ambition and the eclipse of hope that humbles us.

It is that something that shows us vividly and speaks to us eloquently with out words of the evanescence of things. That which makes us see that all things must of necessity come to an end.

That morning as I watched Tyson’s attempts to ward off the sortie of jabs and escape the volcanic power behind Lennox Lewis’ right hand there remained that niggling hope that some miracle could turn the tide and help Tyson find a chink in Lewis’ armour like he did with Frank Bruno.

I hoped that there would be a chink wide enough to let Tyson land a punch that would rattle and bring Lewis to his knees. But it didn’t happen. My hope was eclipsed, comprehensively and so completely by the awesome right hand of Lennox Lewis.

When Tyson fell, I did not see a boxer knocked out. I saw a dream die. I saw an era end. I saw poetic justice. I saw the acting out of a popular igbo adage: he who kills by the sword will die by the sword.

I saw Trevor Berbick, Tony Tubbs and Pinklon Thomas punch drunk and staggering. I saw Tyrell Biggs, Michael Spiks and Frank Bruno cowering and fleeing like frightened children from an avalanche of blows.

I saw the fall of a man who could not understand and so was consumed by the very success he craved.

Iron Mike Tyson in his prime was a killer machine. Oiled and primed he was ferocious, vicious, brutal, and murderous. When he knocked out Frank Bruno and all the other big men, what Tyson had going for him was the ferocity of his aggression, the boundless energy and controlled fury that found eloquent expression in the ring. Tyson was our modern day gladiator and the ring was his arena. We, shameless voyeurs, were the Roman crowd baying for blood like hounds as we watched him dispatch his opponents with vicious efficiency.

From 1985 to 1989 when Tyson was at his most brutal form, he presented us a picture of primal rage. When he stepped into the ring dressed in black, dispensing with the customary robe and socks, he was a man on a d deadly mission, a snarling carnivore, and an executioner there for the kill.

And you could see the fear in his opponents, the averted gaze, the sweat, the raw unbridled stench of extreme petrifaction. Tyson struck the fear of God in those men. And when he charged at them, a rottweiler, fangs bared, and headed for the jugular, the men crumbled so easily under the weight of his punches. He was a short man who made quick work of taller, bigger men.

That was until he met Lennox Lewis, the burly Briton with the famed glass chin. The man who needed to win the big one against Iron Mike Tyson to secure his place among the greats. Against Lennox, Tyson finally acknowledged his human frailties. He discovered his Achilles heel. Like a child who had picked a fight he was ill equipped for, Tyson struggled for all of seven rounds, trying to find an opening, to circumvent the jabs that left him bleeding from cuts above both eyes. He tried to unleash the fury that had put the fear of God in opponents early on in his career, but he failed to see that before this looming hulk of a man, he was a pit bull, made impotent by a leash. Tyson was fettered and like a disabled bomb, had failed to become.

Much has been made of his early days, his tutelage under Cus D’Amato, the only father he knew. His devastation at the death of his mentor. His marriage to a cunning, conniving actress who ran rings around him with the help of her scheming mother. His brushes with the law and unending string of sexual misdemeanors.

We know that prison took the thunder out of his rage. We are also aware that the move from Catskill mountains to the luxurious digs of Hollywood sissified the once deadly ring terror. The truth is as simple as it is ironic: success destroyed Mike Tyson.

He has said that he was a twenty-year-old kid with a hundred million dollars and who didn’t know what to do with himself. And like bloodthirsty spectators we cheered him along, baying for the blood he was so quick to spill, leading him down the dizzying path of irreversible destruction.

A sick man who needed urgent help, we offered none. Instead, like a performer in a circus freak show, we encouraged him to fight. But like the great Mohammed Ali before him, Tyson who converted to Islam did not gush out poetry, he spoke murder. The words he spoke were like the dark lyrics of the rapper Scarface.

Tyson spoke of killing his opponents and eating their children but instead of helping him find help, we rushed to watch his fights, to see him kill his opponents. And after we saw him bite off Holyfield’s ear, we rewarded him with the biggest paycheck of his career against Lewis.

And all the while, blind to the machinations of cruel fate and our part as the Chorus of this sick tragedy, Tyson stumbled to the doom of his boxing career. And that early morning, Tyson, the invincible was felled by a sledgehammer like punch from Lewis.

Before the fight there had been talks of a rematch one bout removed from that night’s if Tyson lost but after the knock out it was all too clear that Lewis had handed down to Mike Tyson the most comprehensive beating of his fighting career. Tyson acknowledged that when he admitted that Lewis was much too big and there was no way, he could ever beat him.

I project now into Mike Tyson’s future and what I see scares me. Mike Tyson will no doubt be dead in the course of the next five years. Why? His nuisance value over, Tyson will never get a $5m dollar payday in America. Down and out on that canvas, Tyson underlined the expiration of his over-extended fifteen minutes of fame.

It is over. The only progress left, is the descent into infamy and oblivion. And as the darkness closes over him, we can only look on with pity and fear at the destruction that we have wrought. For we are all complicit in this tragedy.

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T. Biggs May 16, 2009 - 8:51 am

C’mon Toni, it sounds like you and most everyone else saw Tyson as a dominating and uncontrollable force for all black men to live and look up to. That is, until his fall from grace. Still, why be so disappointed? Tyson was brought up to be somewhat of a gladiator whose job or mission in life was to revolt against and dominate other fighters. He was the best at what he did. Now the real reason for Tyson’s fall from grace, as I see it without being so elloquently emotional in my emotionally driven rant, was Don King. Say it ain’t so? There you have two sides of the coin. One (Tyson) paid and trained to beat people up, a tiger, and two (King) all shady business-like thug, oh I mean Michiavellian parasite. What happened simply was once you let the caged tiger rest and get fat he’s gonna fall prey to another whose hungry and wants what is his. To me, Tyson is still the baddest man on the planet and birthed a boxing style never to be imitated or immulated. Thanks to Cus D’Amato and Kevin Rooney Tyson was that black role-model. Of course no other man made him black. That means Cus or anyone else, but they didn’t try making him white either. Don’t let the caged tiger get lazy Toni. Use your brain and quit being so damn evanescent.

Mafak May 28, 2008 - 11:19 am

Man! you’ve just described my feelings when i saw his fight against James Buster Douglas , when tyson got knocked out , i almost cried .Its great to know that others feel the same.

But he already got his name carved into history , and sooner or later he would have lost to someone , so he is still my hero .

And BTW …replying for some comments , following certain religion won’t grant you success in this world , or else their would be no rich Muslims or poor Christians , right?

George March 1, 2008 - 8:34 am

Only God can save Mike Tyson:The only way to reach salvation is through Christ. If he becomes a Christian missionary he will save not only his face but most and foremost his Soul! Islam is a ruthles inhuman false religion that has no value for any human beeing. Instead of helping mike it just made him even worse. The fruits of islam on Mike are there for all to see.

I wish Mike all the best from now on.That Christ grants him finally the Peace, hapiness and salvation he desperately seeks.

Kind regards


Akin February 2, 2008 - 7:26 am

You need to rewrite this jeremiad and stop trying to pluck at heart strings. The myth of ‘Iron Mike’ was long demolished before the meeting with Lennox. He was having hard time beating world class boxers by then. I too felt some pity at the debacle that was the tyson -lennox match But any hope of Tyson regaining the glory days after his chief weapon (creating fear in his opponents) was gone is misplaced. Tyson and Tyson alone destroyed his career

Catherine April 18, 2007 - 11:22 am

Thank you..Thank you ..Thank you

blue November 21, 2006 - 6:03 am

Toni is a brilliant writer.The death he predicts,I think,is not that of the man,Tyson,rather it is of his(Tyson's)career.

legend June 15, 2006 - 2:16 am

This poem was that of a never know what mike tyson could do in the future! He could be heavyweight champion again. I think the best solution for tyson is to make jesus christ his lord and savior,maybe visit jerusalem.he needs a trainer that will push him to his potential,he needs to go back to his roots?

Anonymous October 31, 2005 - 6:47 am

excellent brillint genious

Anonymous August 28, 2005 - 12:45 pm

I liked the article but the ending is terrible. How can you say what is going to happen in a mans life. Talk about not helping him when it was needed. Mr.Tyson can pull his life together and help others.

Anonymous August 5, 2005 - 9:46 am

The article was okay until the end. Predicting the death of someone is horrible. I believe Mike Tyson will become a Christian and help others come to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Anonymous July 28, 2005 - 9:50 pm

Excellent moving article full of compassion humanity. Thanx a lot.

Our eternal Respect for Mike Tyson.

Anonymous July 9, 2005 - 2:06 am

it was an excellent article till the end of it when he said tyson will die in the next five years because it is now tyson can be able to put things together because now his fame is over and he can live his life

Anonymous June 14, 2005 - 8:05 pm

who is toni to predict the future of mike tyson as over at 38 years old. And to state that he will be dead within the next five years is sickening. Naysayers such as this should find other means of predicting doom, like weather forecasting

Anonymous June 13, 2005 - 10:24 pm

Toni did a very exellent and acurate account of Mike Tyson the fighter and the person. It is so very tragic the way Mike Tyson was used by many,many people. Toni shows this quite acurately in this article.

Anonymous May 18, 2005 - 11:48 pm

i rated this because it had good info and mike tyson is my roll model


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