Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson

Author(s): Mike Tyson, Larry Sloman (editor)
Publisher: HarperSport (Branch of HarperCollinsPublishers)
Year of Publication: 2013
Number of Pages: 564
Genre: Biography, Non-Fiction, Sports
Where to Buy: Undisputed Truth (Amazon UK).
Undisputed Truth (Amazon US).

“I’m rich, Mario,” I said. “I don’t have no watch, no money, no phone, but I feel so peaceful. No one’s telling me to ‘go here’, ‘go there’, ‘do this’. I used to have cars that I never drove and I wouldn’t even know where the keys for them were. I had houses I didn’t live in. I had everybody robbing me. Now I have nothing. Nobody calls me, nobody bothers me, nobody is after me. It’s so peaceful. This is rich, man.”

One can’t help but feel a profound sense of pity for Mike Tyson, whose life has been pervaded by depravity and sorrow. It’s almost as if in each year of his life he’s been forced to deal with a slew of devastating events which have served to rock the foundation he attempts to balance his life on. We all know of “Iron Mike Tyson”, the ferocious, two-time Heavyweight Championship boxer, infamous for tearing a part of Evander Holyfield’s ear off with his teeth; but how much do we know about Michael Tyson, the man behind the persona?

Raised in the ghettos of Brownsville, Brooklyn, Mike Tyson openly admits that he never really had a loving relationship with his mother. While he was desperate to receive attention and love from her, she failed to reciprocate his affection. Tyson was meek and frightened of most people; he was incessantly picked on and bullied throughout his childhood. Despite the fact he was capable of fighting back, he simply didn’t believe that he had the power in him. Eventually, Tyson turned to the streets and embarked upon a life of crime, enticed by the promise of a fraternity that gangs could offer vulnerable kids like him. However, it wasn’t long before Tyson found himself at the centre of a destructive vortex, and having seen several of his friends be killed by rival gang members, he began desperately searching for a way out. A boxing trainer by the name of Cus D’Amato would give Tyson that opportunity to escape.

The time Mike Tyson spent with D’Amato was to be, by far, the happiest period of his life. He finally had something to be passionate about. He was given direction by D’Amato and began to instil a routine and structure into his day-to-day life. Tyson viewed D’Amato as the father he’d never had and worked as hard as he could to impress him. It was clear from the get-go that the fourteen-year-old Mike Tyson could go far; he showcased great technical ability and strength in the ring and would consistently knock out his sparring partners – who were, in most cases, years older than him! Tyson began to participate in Junior Championship tournaments around the New York area, all of which he won with ease. He even went to the Junior Olympics, where he faced off against some of the best boxers in his age group; yet he’d often find himself picking up wins by forfeit, as his opponents would sometimes fail to show up. This was allegedly due to their discovery of the amount of damage Tyson had inflicted upon his opponents in previous matches.

By 20-years-old, Mike Tyson had become the youngest Heavyweight Champion ever – a record that is intact to this day. Though, sadly, Cus D’Amato would pass away before getting to witness the milestone both had worked so hard for. Without the guidance of D’Amato, Tyson began to return to his former self. The malevolent facade he had adopted during his childhood to fend off bullies was reinstalled, this time to fend off the fawning sycophants who only wanted Tyson for his money.

After having retained the championship for several years without any real challenges, Tyson became complacent, some might say he was even bored. He began to splash out heavily on cars, houses, women, and drugs. This was a pattern of behaviour that he adhered to for at least another decade, though he took a brief sabbatical whilst he served his three-year sentence in prison for the alleged rape of Desiree Washington. There was speculation that Tyson would change his life around upon release, but this failed to come to fruition; instead, Mike would fall almost immediately back into the step of his undesirable habits without realising and walk an unsteady path. Ultimately, it would be the several stints he spent in rehab that would save his life.

Whilst the media portrays Mike Tyson as a vulgar thug with no place in society, once you read Undisputed Truth and learn of the tragedy that has pervaded this man’s life, you’ll begin to understand how potent environmental factors are to the sculpting of a person’s psyche. Would any of us have turned out to be decent citizens if we’d have been in Tyson’s shoes? Absolutely not. It’s a combination of trauma and desolation that made Tyson who he was for so many years, but to have had the strength to turn his life around is worthy of a great deal of respect. I only hope that Mike Tyson is able to be forgiven for his tumultuous past.

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