Not sure why ABC thought Tyson was a subject worth talking about in '21, but I thought this was worth a watch. Here’s my latest and most likely final takes on a few tidbits.
His childhood: This doesn’t get discussed nearly enough, but there was a very widespread blase attitude in the 80’s about parenting, that it was somehow okay to make no effort to steer children in the right direction, because “they have to learn on their own” or “they’ll turn out all right” or some similar crap. That Tyson was able to find a purpose in his later years and avoid any of the really horrible pitfalls is incredible, but that doesn’t mean that raising him in an environment that wasn’t a complete hellhole wouldn’t have been much better for him. Cus D’Amato did a bang-up job, but unfortunately by then it may have been too little, too late.
I will say that slowly twisting a pigeon’s head off is just evil. If anything, that boy got off easy.
Early career: I’m glad I finally got to see snippets of these early fights. Normally I wouldn’t like the fact that there were mere snippets, but he won so quickly that those were pretty much all there was. Basically, he was the Star Platinum of boxing. His punches were so fast and so precise that his opponent had two choices, cover up and get sent to the canvas in seconds, or fire back and get sent to the canvas in fewer seconds. And the fact that his fights ended so quickly meant that he wasn’t taking a lot of punishment, so he’d be just as sharp tomorrow as today. That was a damn potent combination.
Robin Givens: It looks to me that this was a just a typical case of “marry in haste, repent at leisure” which would occasionally get nasty. Credit to Tyson for knowing where the line was and not doing anything seriously harmful to her, and vice versa; for all their poor judgment they at least had a modicum of restraint.
Desree Washington: We’ll never know for certain. That’s the long and short of it. Her behavior was pretty iffy before and after, but that on its own proves nothing. Based on the available evidence, I’d say three years was probably about right.
The ear bite: Looking back on it, the whole thing just looks so ridiculous. Even Tyson’s excuse doesn’t make any damn sense. “He was headbutting! I had to retaliate!” Aside from the fact that I saw a grand total of one headbutt (which the ref did give Holyfield a warning for), if he was retaliating against headbutts, he should have done it with headbutts! Not biting, not kicking, not low blows, not slamming his head into the ringpost, not spitting in his eyes! It’s not “fight fire with acid”!
And then his will gets pounded to rubble by Kevin McBride, he dabbles in hard drugs, a few more hits on the ol’ rap sheet, until finally he sees the light and discovers his true calling…a radio show, which is where he is to this day. In all, a remarkable story about how making lots of bad mistakes and getting tons of undeserved adulation don’t have to destroy a man. Was he just too strong to die, did he get just enough help in his life to go over the cliff, or was he just lucky? Dunno. Just glad that he finally got his head on straight.