Don’t hate me, but I like Mike. In my experience, he is actually a very nice guy. This not to say he is without fault, absolutely, but of the superstar athletes, entertainers, and politicians I have met over the years, he is certainly the most complicated, and one of the most generous and humble I worked with. I met Mike back in 2002 when I photographed him for the NYTimes magazine before his Lennox Lewis fight. I watched Mike train — he was devastating, one of the strongest humans I have ever seen. Mike is an incredibly complex guy, very sweet, thoughtful, and engaging, while also being world-class ferocious if provoked. Unlike most anyone I ever photographed or even have met, Mike wants you to think worse of him. He started telling me all sorts of scary nonsense about how he was a super bad guy, he hated people, he hated babies…it was all an act though, an act to try to get me to think he was some sort of monster. When I called him on it, which was probably the single greatest act of bravery of my life — this was, after all, Iron Mike and an incredibly dangerous guy — he did a 180 degree turn. It was all a test to see if I was just another gullible white journalist. We became buddies, and got to hang out together in his condo while he relaxed post-training.
Gentlemanly and Considerate
No doubt he was a highly volatile guy if provoked. But in the hours I spent with him, he was kind, gentlemanly, and considerate. His very young daughter was there, who he cooed and played with in the sweetest of ways. She would die tragically in a freak treadmill accident years later. I saw no hostility to anyone, especially not his girlfriend who he fussed over.
Boxing for Charity
There is a rumor that Mike, 53, now a vegetarian and regular meditator, may fight Evander Holyfield again in a 3-round charity match. Have a look at this video. Mike may not be the destroyer of 30 years ago, but I can’t think of any sane person who would want to get hit by this guy. Maybe not world champion material, but incredibly fearsome for someone of any age. I hear Holyfield has been training too. I just hope they don’t hurt each other by hitting too hard, which they absolutely still have the capacity to do.
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) May 1, 2020