About Iron Mike No More, Tyson on 'World Tour'
|October 20th, 2006||#1|
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Iron Mike No More, Tyson on 'World Tour' info
Iron Mike No More, Mike Tyson Set to Start 'World Tour,' a Series of Boxing Exhibitions
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - He kicked off his sneakers, stepped on the scale in his white socks and smiled. Seconds later, the man once labeled the baddest man on the planet, the one who could petrify an opponent simply by stepping onto the apron, flexed his biceps for a few photographers and then giggled almost in shame.
"Mike Tyson," the boxing official bellowed into the microphone, his announcement filling every corner of the minor league hockey arena. "Two hundred, forty-one and a half pounds. And that's with street clothes on."
Once upon a career, Mike Tyson would arrive at a weigh-in thirsty for blood or an ear. Sometimes, he'd taunt his next victim, maybe even throw a punch or two as a preview to the hell he planned to unleash inside the ropes.
On Thursday, Tyson, sporting a white Michael-Steele-for-U.S.-Senate T-shirt, walked around the podium hugging old friends and young boxers, many of whom just wanted to shake the former champ's hand.
Iron Mike is dead. He's Nice Mike now.
"You know what, though. He's still a great show," former lightweight champion Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini said moments before Tyson arrived at the 6,000-seat Chevrolet Centre, home of the Central Hockey League's Youngstown SteelHounds. "He's still the biggest name in boxing."
Now 40, and 20 years since he knocked out Trevor Berbick in the second round to become the world's youngest heavyweight champion, Tyson will embark on a "World Tour" by fighting a four-round exhibition Friday against Corey "T-Rex" Sanders, a former sparring partner who tipped the scales at a whopping 292 1/2 pounds.
Tyson isn't Tyson anymore. But that doesn't seem to matter to fans willing to pay $200 for a ringside seat and a glimpse at his former greatness.
"I never got to see him in person, only on TV, and this is my only chance," Anna Curry said after exiting the arena's box office with two tickets. "This is Mike Tyson, right here in Youngstown."
And maybe coming to a city near you soon.
In the upcoming months, Tyson will visit Korea, China, Russia and South Africa, where he's in negotiations to fight on Robben Island, site of the prison that held Nelson Mandela for 18 years.
The tour's promoter, Sterling McPherson, views Tyson's bring-him-to-the-people tour as no different than any other big-name entertainers who continue to take the stage despite being past their primes.
"Look at the Rolling Stones, they're still playing and they're in their 60s," he said. "Or Paul Anka or any other stars in Las Vegas. Somebody once said, 'There's Tyson and then there's everyone else.' It's still that way."
McPherson wouldn't say how much Tyson, who wasted nearly $300 million in purse earnings on late nights in clubs and extravagant purchases, is making on the tour. Anyway, Tyson is donating most if not all of the money to charity, his way of giving back to a public once fascinated by his every TKO inside the ring and every stumble outside of it.
Initial ticket sales were strong in boxing rich Youngstown, a beer-and-shot town where Gene Tunney, Jess Willard and Ezzard Charles all fought and the home of Mancini, who now lives in Santa Monica, Calif., and will announce Tyson's fight and seven undercard bouts on pay-per-view TV.
In 1986, Tyson, then an up-and-coming heavyweight and boxing buff from Brooklyn, introduced himself to Mancini at a fight in Atlantic City, N.J.
"I had heard of him and he comes up and says, 'Mr. Mancini,' I'm a big fan of yours, I love you, man,'" Mancini says, doing his own dead-on impression of Tyson's oft-mimicked lisp. "He told me how he had heard what a great fighter my father (Lenny Mancini was a lightweight in the 1940s) and how much he admired me and my dad.
"Every time I saw him after that, every time, he said, 'Hey, how's your father?' You can't get any better than that."
Unlike Tyson, who squandered his ring riches and quit in his final bout, Mancini left the fight game before the fight game left him. He retired with his senses intact and with most of his money.
While others have condemned Tyson for wasting what he had, Mancini sees it differently.
"It is sad. But I don't feel bad for Mike," he said. "It's his life and he chose to live it this way. Mike made a lot of money and spent a lot of money, and he had a great time along the way. What's wrong with that?
"There are people who make money and put it in the bank and they're miserable their whole lives."
Following the weigh-in, Tyson left the building surrounded by the familiar cadre of security personnel. As he was being whisked away, fans yelled his name with few trying to touch the one-time king of the boxing world.
"I've followed him since he won the title," said Chery Triggs of Youngstown. "It's amazing to see him. He looks good."
Triggs, too, feels bad for Tyson's fall a self-imposed knockout he could have avoided.
"You go through life, you learn and you've got to keep it going," she said. "You can't go backwards. Hopefully, he learned something along the way."