Saturday, August 8, 2015

Book Review: A Dog Fight. . .


Philosopher, Broadway headliner, fighter, felon—Mike Tyson has defied stereotypes, expectations, and a lot of conventional wisdom during his three decades in the public eye. Bullied as a boy in the toughest, poorest neighborhood in Brooklyn, Tyson grew up to become one of the most thrilling and ferocious boxers of all time—and the youngest heavyweight champion ever. But his brilliance in the ring was often compromised by reckless behavior. Years of hard partying, violent fights, and criminal proceedings took their toll: by 2003, Tyson had hit rock bottom, a convicted felon, completely broke, the punch line to a thousand bad late-night jokes. Yet he fought his way back; the man who once admitted being addicted to everything” regained his success, his dignity, and the love of his family. With a triumphant one-man stage show, his unforgettable performances in the Hangover films, and his new found happiness and stability as a father and husband, Tyson’s story is an inspiring American original.

Brutally honest, raw, and often hilarious, Tyson chronicles his tumultuous highs and lows in the same sincere, straightforward manner we have come to expect from this legendary athlete. A singular journey from Brooklyn’s ghettos to worldwide fame to notoriety, and, finally, to a tranquil wisdom,Undisputed Truth is not only a great sports memoir but an autobiography for the ages. 


Words!  No one knows the importance of their impact more than a baby born on June 30, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York.  From the moment he set foot in the world, the stars had aligned differently.  To be told “you ain’t shit!” or “you’re worthless” and “you’re so dumb and stupid like me.”  Is there any wonder the trials and tribulations the ex-undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Michael Gerard Tyson, better known as Mike Tyson, had a rather chaotic life he’s led?

Mike’s mother certainly didn’t deserve the “Mother-of-the-Year Award,” but she gave Mike some very valuable lessons by ensuring her son would learn how to be a classic fuck up as he went through life.  Oh yeah, this is what every mother should want for her very own son!  Ummph, I’m surprised Mike has made it in life this far.  His beginnings were absolutely horrendous.  Having your mother beat on you for reasons only known to her; to having different men sleeping in their apartment with your young impressionable child watching.  He was cussed out on a daily and berated with unkind words and called every name but the name she gave him, and this made more than an impact on Mike Tyson.  He became the words his mother used to describe him.  Hell, why not go out and rob your neighbors, right?   Where’s the love?

That’s a good question, as Mike tries to find the answers searching through his tumultuous life as to why he is the way he is?!  What is he?  Many said he was an animal, and given the fact that he was known for taking a bite out of ears and an occasion thigh when the need arose, he was happy to have that bad boy persona.  Only problem with that was, he wasn’t truly happy with himself at all.  He had no self-worth, thanks to mommie dearest!  I like to give parents the benefit of the doubt because after all, they are human and of course they make mistakes, so I’m willing to turn a blind eye on some parenting, however, having said that, I cannot give Mike’s mom a pass.  What that woman did to her son was downright pure evil.  He still, to this day, struggles with his past deep-rooted pains all at the hands of his mother.  She never loved her son, at least that’s the perception I got from reading his life story.  And I’m positive Mike would agree with me.  She’s the reason for almost all of his problems.

Mike certainly cannot blame his mother for every mistake he’s made in life, and he’d probably be the first to admit that.  He’s made some very bad choices in life.  Going to jail at a young age was probably the best gift he could have been given.  For had he not gone, he would have never met his angels.  Cus D’Amato, his Italian adoptive father, life coach and trainer and Camille, his adoptive mother.  Thanks to his explosive anger, one of the probation officers took notice and told Mike he should channel that anger into the ring.  Who could believe that when Mike was a little boy, he was bullied and beat up on—“Iron” Mike Tyson bullied?  Say what?  Yeah, isn’t that amazing?  He didn’t start out as “Iron” Mike.  Not only was he bullied, but he didn’t exhibit the best hygiene and the kids literally ripped him a new one for not having the latest clothes and fads.  Never mind he was poor, kids can be brutal, and Mike certainly was the brunt of many of their jokes.  This turned him onto his criminal activity.  There’s always a devil lurking ready to give you your life’s lessons at a price.  Luckily, the cost was Cus and Camille.

Once he was taken under their wings, he began to do well and stay out of trouble, but one thing I noticed throughout the entire memoir, the “T” doesn’t just stand for Tyson, but more so “Trouble!”  It always finds him.  From his two failed marriages, to all the money he lost due to allowing others to handle his affairs.  No matter how much he tried to get out from under, trouble had a way of finding and engulfing his existence to the point he became a drug addict.  What better way to dull the pain of your horrible being than with drugs.  His drug of choice was Cocaine.  And Lord knows I don’t know why any woman in her right mind would sleep with him.  This man not only is a recovering drug addict, but he’s a sex addict as well.  He felt privileged because he was the Champ, had  more than enough wealth and women were a part of that equation. 

Mike went into great lengths describing all the women he slept with.  He told things that I felt was waaaaay too much information, but I guess he wanted to keep it very real with his fans and to set the record straight.  While I’m talking about one of my favorite fighters of all-time, I am going to say this here and now as I did back in the day.  I never believed, nor will I ever believe, that Mike Tyson raped Desiree Washington.  I defended him then and I’m still defending his honor.  I think its deplorable that this man has to register in every state he visits that he’s a sex offender because if he doesn’t, he can go to jail—all thanks to Desiree being upset that he dissed her!  He laid out the whole scenario and I believe every word he said.  I believed him then, so nothing has changed in my mind.  What I’d like to know is what happened to Miss Thang now?  She’s got to live with the lies she’s told.  This man has probably slept with more women than Wilt Chamberlain, and I’m not exaggerating.  He had no reason to rape any woman.  Now, could he be rude and downright nasty and impolite, oh yeah, you betcha, but rape—HELL NO!  I’ve never believed that and I never, ever will.  The only way I’d be a believer is if I saw it happen with my own eyes.  And I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, unless someone had video, which there isn’t any. 

Money makes people do strange things, and the more money you make, the more people act a damn fool, and with Mike, that was all too familiar.  Everyone wanted a piece of Iron Mike Tyson’s money—damn the man, just fork over the money!  Unfortunately, having all those millions and probably close to billions, he’s not that wealthy anymore.  In fact, he’s broke compared to what he was then.  Had he made smarter decisions and better staff working for him, instead of the entourage he sometimes hung around, he’d be living on easy street now. 

I did enjoy watching his one-man show The Undisputed Truth which Spike Lee directed.  It was outstanding!  I thought Mike did a great job, but unfortunately, I wish his memoir would have been edited down like his one-man show.  OMG, this book was waaaaaaay too long!!  I don’t feel his editor did a great job toning down all the extra stuff Mike was saying.  I appreciate that he was keeping it one hundred—I so get that, but there comes a time when you have to edit yourself.  The man talked about the same stuff over, and over and over again and it liked to drove me insane.   Wooo talk about #teamtoomuch!  Oh yeah, way overboard!  This book could have been about three to four hundred pages instead of over six hundred.  Those extra pages were all the interviews Mike did, literally and several chapters of him getting high.  He snorted so much coke, I caught a contact from reading it.  Jesus, too, too much!  All the women he slept with, too, too much!  From going to the bathroom and the whole nine, Mike, listen baby, too, too much!  Toooooo much! 

But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book.  I absolutely did, but I must admit I skipped a few chapters near the end because it just got to be so redundant and there wasn’t any point.  I learned a great deal about Iron Mike and I have to say, I’m glad to see he’s trying to get his life on point and stay clean.  I know it’s never easy, but you do what you have to do.  This was a pretty decent read.  Mello and June give this memoir four stars.  I think had this book been edited to a more reasonable level, this would have been a five-star read.  Best of luck to you and your family, Mike.  You’re still my Champ!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Sticks and Stones. . .
May Break my Bones. . .
But Names will Never Hurt Me?

Not True!  Words Can Hurt!

Be Very Careful How YOU Wield Them!