Mike Tyson – In The Blink Of An Eye
By: Sean Crose
It was November 22nd, 1986 – the Saturday night before Thanksgiving week. I was in the car, on my way to a party in Wilbraham, Massachusetts when I heard the news. Mike Tyson, a kid not much older than my fifteen year old self, had just won the WBC Heavyweight Title from Trevor Berbick in two round fashion out in Vegas. Tyson, who was just twenty at the time, had erased the record previously held by Floyd Patterson to become the youngest person to ever win the heavyweight championship.
To be sure, Tyson was no new name to me. Although I had missed his (up until then) crowning achievement, I had been following the fighter since he started appearing in small televised cards in upstate New York less than a year earlier. Right away, it was clear that he was a man to watch. For starters, Tyson didn’t look like most boxers, especially not those in the heavyweight division. The guy had no neck, after all. He was also destructive in a way kids like myself had never seen before.
We were told he was a throwback to Jack Dempsey, and, judging from what I had read about Dempsey (I loved boxing history, even as a kid), the comparison was a solid one. Tyson was scary – yet awesome. Make no mistake about it, it was hard not to be a fan of “Iron Mike” at the time. After besting Berbick, the future simply seemed boundless for the guy. And for a while, Tyson certainly lived up to expectations. Then, of course, came the long, slow fall.
Robin Givens. Mitch Green. Buster Douglas. Desiree Washington. Evander Holyfield. Lennox Lewis. There looked to be an endless list of names that led to Iron Mike’s seemingly endless demise. One name, however, usually rose above all others – Mike Tyson. Make no mistake about it, Tyson himself was the source of many of his own problems. In just over a decade, the guy went from superstar to pariah.
Now, of course, there’s the tempered, more mature Tyson people see. Is it a true representation? Who are we to judge? When the fighter apologized to Teddy Atlas on air one night for past transgressions, who were we to question Tyson’s sincerity? Fortunately, most haven’t taken a cynical view of the individual once known as “the baddest man on the planet.” Perhaps that’s because Tyson showed he had the ability to laugh at himself.
A lot of time has passed since the young Iron Mike won a heavyweight strap off of Trevor Berbick all those years back. And indeed, lots has changed. There’s one thing worth noting, though: If you had asked anyone that long ago night if the tough kid from New York State would be remembered in 30 years, my guess is you would have been told “yes.” And indeed, those who said so would have been proven right.
For, in the blink of an eye, Mike Tyson blasted his way into the public consciousness – and he’s stayed there ever since.