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Unique Views, Episode 36: A Gentler, Kinder Mike Tyson

Stringer/Getty Images
Stringer/Getty Images

The saying goes that it’s better not to meet your heroes, and Danielle Young, aka Patti LaDanielle, has met me, and we see how that has worked out. Clearly, I was her podcast hero because my voice is a cross between a soft beach breeze and Idris Elba’s face.


I hate to admit it, but I know I didn’t live up to Ms. Patti Patti’s expectations. In fact, we hate each other.

Nevertheless, when you are a man of a certain age and you have a chance to talk to “Iron Mike” Tyson, you can’t do anything but become a 10-year-old who is in full hero-worship mode. Tyson will arguably be my generation’s Muhammad Ali.


Let me explain.

Muhammad Ali represented exactly where black people were at the time that he was rising to greatness. Black people were fighting for civil rights and clashing with the man. Their hair, their clothing, their voices, were all tuned to protest. And Ali embodied all of it. He spoke the language, he had an Afro, and to put it plainly, he didn’t take any shit.

Speed up a bit to the early ’90s and black people aren’t as outwardly righteous, the music is rap, the cussing is twofold and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” had turned into N.W.A’s “Fuck the Police.” And Tyson was all of that. He didn’t give a shit. He would tell other fighters he was going to eat their kids; he had the half-moon part that was straight hip-hop; and to add to his lore, he learned how to box after a stint in juvenile prison. If Ali was the precursor to Tyson, he was also grandfather to a generation that only knew how to fuck shit up.

So the Pod Squad got to talk with Tyson, discussing his love for birds and his appearance on Fusion TV’s Outpost (new episodes air Sundays at 8pm on Fusion TV) and what it’s like to be a father when the world-of-a-certain-age still remembers you as the baddest man on the planet.


In short, this whole episode is really about heroes, why we worship them and whether that’s even fair to them. Oprah Winfrey didn’t ask to be Patti LaDanielle’s hero, but she is. She also didn’t ask for Patti LaDanielle to stalk her, which she has

Listen here:


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Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.

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Hoyo Afrika

He didn’t give a shit.

Being a huge fan of Billie Holiday, I realized that such descriptions are only of value when you’ve passed on and the damage you can do, as an addict, is no longer visible. Tyson and Holiday hurt countless people with their drunken, drug-inspired antics. I have found, as an addict, that black folks are perhaps the most forgiving of such transgressions. It allows me to continue operating in an Afro-inspired atmosphere without feeling less than a whole black man. All that to say, blackness saved me when I arrived in North America.