Iron Mike Tyson came into global limelight and prominence as a teenaged pugilist who at 20 years old in 1986 captured the WBC World Heavyweight boxing championship belt. Born 30 Juin 1966 in New York USA Michael Gerard Tyson triumphed over Trevor Berbick by knock-out to clinch the world title. And thereafter started the controversial life that incorporated scandals and a prison spell. He later became the undisputed world boxing heavyweight champion by unifying the WBC, WBA and IBF titles. Tyson was dazed in Tokyo in 1990 as a desperate uppercut from little-known Buster Douglas sent him to the canvas in the tenth round of a gruelling fight. The watching boxing universe was shocked as Tyson was grounded unable to pick up his fallen self slumping and trembling on his feet as the referee counted away.
Tyson fought other great bouts with some great boxers and came out victorious. He battered and knocked out Michael Spinks in a record one-and-half minutes when many spectators were still finding their ways to the arena! That was how dominant this black American bull was in his prime! His demystification however continued unabated as years wore on with series of defeats suffered in the hands of Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Danny Williams and Kevin McBride. After losing the title to Evander Holyfield by an 11th round TKO in 1996 Tyson made history for wrong reasons when in a well-publicised re-match a year later he was disqualified for trying to bite off Evander’s ear out of frustration over the difference in height.
Dimunitive and strong Mike Tyson had a date with destiny as those who discovered his lion heart early enough sought to keep that date making name and money in the process. As the British fine boxer Lennox Lewis took Tyson’s demystification to another level in 2002 Tyson was qouted to have said in London before a re-match that he was in the British capital city to ‘kill Lewis’. But that never happened as Lennox stood his ground and gave Tyson another bloody nose.
The scandals were coming as Tyson swam in millions of dollars his strenght and raw power brought his way. First he was condemned and jailed in 1992 for sexually assaulting one Ms Desiree Washington and he had to spend three years in gaol. It was during that trying period that Tyson converted to Islam bearing the name Malik Abdul Aziz. Whatever happened to this ‘romance’ with Islam is left to the imagination!
Today, Tyson is a full grown-up man at 44. Having retired from the boxing ring activities, his exploits in pugilism cannot be forgotten in a hurry as he had ruled his world in his time. Today Mike Tyson is lamenting his ugly past centered on selfishness and pride. He declared recently in a magazine that his fame and fortune went to his head leading to “wasted years”! Tyson considered himself uncharitably as a “pig” and his 44 years on earth as a “king waste”. He had told the magazine: “The first stage of my life was just a whole bunch of selfishness. Just a whole bunch of gifts to myself and people who didn’t necessarily deserve it. Now I’m 44, and I realise that my whole life is just a f**king waste. ‘Greatest man on the planet’? I wasn’t half the man I thought I was”. Sound self-denunciation there!
His celebrated marriage to actress Robin Givens turned bitter due to physical abuse. He once claimed out of youthful exuberance that the punch he threw at Ms Givens was the ‘heaviest’ he had ever thrown to anyone basking in cowardly chauvinistic mien. In 2003 Tyson declared himself bankrupt after squandering millions upon millions of dollars he earned while knocking challengers off their feet. The so-called ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ is now singing a new tune for charity. Hear him: “If there’s a big plan now, it’s just to give – it’s selflessness, caring for the people who deserve it”.
Iron Mike Tyson was made in America, the much-vaunted American dream was exploited to his full advantage! America is a great land full of opportunities, a wealthy capitalist behemoth that makes and destroys in equal measure. Like many Blacks in sports, entertainment and other fields of socio-economic activities Tyson made his millions in quick succession and was brought down by the system but the blame is entirely his. There are a whole lot of Mike Tysons looking for an opportunity to be discovered in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general to no avail. Now having been faced with frustration by the system that kills dreams and thwarts genuine efforts at self-realisation they take to kidnapping, armed robbery and other vile activities.
But now that Tyson has vowed to make amends for his past behaviour, by doing all he can to help others, it still remains to be seen how he goes about living out the rest of his years on earth in the service of the less-privileged, in the service of humanity. Age is still on his side and by realising how depraved his whole life has been and vowing to change his ways Mike Tyson has sent a strong message to the youths and those in positions of fame and fortune across the board.
His interesting story strikes one as a genuine case of repentance by a notorious street boy whose destiny was changed by the grace of his Samson-like raw power. People in authorities especially in Nigeria should learn a thing or two from this confession laced with social solidarity. Tyson never felt any shame confessing publicly his ‘wasted years’ spent in service of himself and his base fantasies. The old saying makes us to understand that a fool at 40 is a fool forever! So at 44 much is expected from Tyson by his friends and foes alike: life of redemption and contrition!
As Nigeria joins other African countries to celebrate earlier this year our 50 years of independence one hopes that the kidnapped country (and those leading her by the nose) will see the light and meet the challenges and needs of her teeming population. As the youths become more restless in a nation where millions of petro-dollars are shared among politicians (sometimes in 5-star hotel rooms at wee hours of the night) we hope that the kidnapping season will soon fade away like eras of drug trafficking and advance fee fraud.
With the giant (sorry dwarf!) of Africa saddled with a Goodluck and Patience (an unusual presidential couple thrown up unusually by the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua fatal presidential infirmity) the ship of state drifts and heads towards an uncharted waters. President Goodluck Jonathan ought to consider it imperative winning a clean and clear mandate next year in the general elections if only to guarantee himself and the rest of us that what he will be exercising then will be an incontrovertible genuine mandate handed to him by the Nigerian people as against what is now in place whose flawed history we all denounce.
Like Mike Tyson we decry our wasted years of nationhood, fifty years of great promise deferred and lofty dreams killed. Unlike him however we seem not to have come to terms with the fact that we had blown half a century of national independence on the alter of mediocrity and kleptocracy. Now is the right time to start the arduous task of cleaning up the Augean stable if we hope to be taken seriously by an international community that mocks our primitive political culture and economic criminality.