Mike Tyson, Comedian
Single-Minded: The former boxer continues a career revival by delivering punch lines, not punches.
A 2005 New York Times article admits, "Tyson maintains a magnetism that leaves sociologists struggling for explanations." The article goes on to note:
Facing his 39th birthday on June 30, after serving a prison sentence for rape and after pitfalls that have included declaring bankruptcy, biting off a portion of Evander Holyfield's ear, and marrying and divorcing twice, Tyson is trying to resurrect his career -- again.
In a 1988 television interview, Tyson's wife at the time, actress Robin Givens, told Barbara Walters that she was "very, very much afraid" of her husband. "He shakes, he pushes, he swings," explained an eerily calm Givens. They divorced a year later.
Then, in 1992, 25-year-old Tyson was found guilty on one count of rape and two counts of criminal deviate conduct for the sexual assault of 18-year-old Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. He spent nearly three years in jail.
Two years later, in 1997, Mike Tyson bit off a portion of boxer Evander Holyfield's right ear, then his left. Tyson was banned from boxing for a year and fined $3 million. After that he fought professionally some more, served some more time in jail. He fought again. Had money trouble. Won more fights.
In June 2000, after knocking out an opponent in less than 40 seconds, Tyson delivered one of his most inflammatory quotes to date. When asked about fighting then-champion Lennox Lewis, Tyson said, "I want to eat his children. Praise be to Allah!" Two years later, Lewis knocked him out in the eighth. A defeated Tyson got a tribal tatt on his face and a documentary that premiered at Cannes.
Then The Hangover happened. In it Tyson plays a less-coordinated caricature of himself. Tons of people thought his role was akin to Tom Cruise's cameo in Tropic Thunder. I, on the the other hand, found it sort of sad. After decades of being a troubled but undeniably talented athlete, Tyson was reduced, in my mind, to acting the fool.
But something seems to have changed in the years since his comedic debut. Mike's been contemplative, calling the first 44 years of his life "a f---ing waste." And his crazy verbal outbursts now appear to be the geysers of a previously leashed mind.
I don't know. Maybe he's nothing but a retired boxer trying to stay relevant in a society with a short attention span. Either way, he's got mine.
Helena Andrews is a regular contributor to The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter.