Monday, February 05, 2007

Facing Tyson

Sports journalist Ted Kluck tracked down 15 fighters who faced off against Mike Tyson to ask about their thoughts and experiences. These days Tyson, still fighting though well past his prime, is known more for his criminal record, misdeeds and general eccentricity than for his boxing prowess. There was a time, though, when he was a cultural icon; a seemingly unstoppable fighter who broke his opponents with his sublime ferocity.
Among the men whose stories Kluck tells were those fighters who succumbed to Tyson mere seconds after the opening bell. It’s a compelling read not so much for its focus on Tyson, who Kluck concedes may well have been overrated (most of those people the evening news showed knocked silly in the first round were unknown and clearly overmatched), as for what it says about the boxing community. It’s brutal, of course. But more than that, it’s hype, larger than life, and fully capable of consuming its participants. Many of Tyson’s opponents lead quiet, low-key, even drab lives these days, with only the scars as a reminder of the world they formerly inhabited.


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