Alexa Miller

Mike Tyson: Good Boxer Gone Bad

It goes without saying that in today’s society, many athletes live their lives in the public eye. From their performance to endorsements to scandals, the media wastes no time in informing the public of it all.  Athletes’ lives are publicly dissected by the media whether they win or lose. Furthermore, people enjoy reading or watching stories about athletes, particularly those that cast them in a negative light. As a result, it is extremely important for athletes to know how to handle any and all kinds of media appropriately. Over the years, there have been plenty of athletes who have served as examples of what not to do.

In my opinion, Michael Gerard Tyson, or “Mike,” is one the most notable illustrations of an athlete who is particularly bad with the media all around. Between Tyson’s rash and unedited comments, unfortunate speech impediment, and lengthy rap sheet, it is no surprise that Tyson is known more for his personal turmoil and abrasive actions, than for his once dynamite career. Tyson, who was born in 1966, first rose to fame as a professional boxer. According to Tyson’s personal website, http://miketyson.com/, he is a “former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles.” He was also the first heavyweight boxer to simultaneously hold, and only Heavyweight to individually unify, the WBA, WBC and IBF titles. Tyson’s speedy rise to the top of the professional boxing world made him one of the most publicized boxers of all time.

In 1992, however, Tyson’s personal life became the center of media attention. Tyson became involved in serious legal issues when he was convicted of raping Desiree Washington, for which he served three years in jail. Tyson lost all of his previously earned professional boxing titles. In November 1996, Tyson lost his WBA crown to Evander Holyfield (after being stripped of the WBC title), and in 1997, their infamous rematch ended when Tyson was disqualified for biting off part of Holyfield’s ear. In 2003, Tyson declared bankruptcy, despite receiving over $300 million throughout his career. Tyson’s livelihood continued to decline, and in 2006, he finally retired after losing consecutive matches against Danny Williams and Kevin McBride. Since Tyson’s retirement, his life has continued in a downward spiral. In 2006, Tyson was arrested in Arizona, “on suspicion of DUI and felony drug possession,” and in 2009, Tyson was arrested again after getting into a fight with a photographer at the Los Angeles International airport. Over the years, it is needless to say that the media’s once admiring reports of Tyson took on a negative focus.

Although Tyson is slowly trying to rebuild and rebrand himself today, there are many things that Tyson could have done better. He could have been more mindful of his actions and aware of the spotlight surrounding him. He could have also been significantly more professional when interacting with the media. Tyson made many comments that were reckless and inappropriate. The Worldwide Boxing Magazine Site, http://www.boxing-monthly.co.uk/content/0008/three.htm, posted an article titled, “The Big Thoughts of Mixed-up Mike,” that highlighted some of the worst comments made by Tyson over the years. In October1987, Tyson reacted with pleasure to the pain he inflicted on Biggs with this comment: “When I hit him in the body he was making these noises. . . . Something like a woman screaming. I could have knocked him out in the third round but I wanted to do it slowly, so he would remember this night for a long time.” In March 1988, Tyson told Sports Illustrated, “I love to hit people. I love to, Most celebrities are afraid someone’s going to attack them. I want someone to attack me. No weapons. Just me and him. I like to beat men and beat them bad.”

In the end, one cannot help but feel sorry for Tyson. Whether it is his speech impediment that got made fun of during the widely-viewed, “Sheen Roast,” or the silly tattoo on the side of his face—something about Tyson makes me feel sympathetic.  He made many bad decisions, yet he has also paid for most of them. Let this be a lesson to all athletes: do not rape anyone, do not bite off your competitor’s ear, and do not make inappropriate comments to the media, unless you want negative headlines scattered across every magazine, newspaper, and website in the country.

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