Tyson celebrates another year, a new opportunity

By
TysonTalk

Published: July 11, 2004

June 30, 2004

There was a cake. There were a few fractured lyrics to Happy Birthday. But Mike Tyson was celebrating only one thing Wednesday.

“I’m just happy to be breathing,” Tyson said after he blew out the candles.

After 38 years at the perilous edge of self-destruction, Tyson bit into a sheet cake at an impromptu 38th birthday party at Central Boxing, a gym near downtown Phoenix, as though he was sampling the first taste of a new life.

Or, at least, another chance at a good one.

His first day at a new age has been preceded by signs and stories of a personal renewal, if not a different person altogether.

In some ways, it’s an old story. And in a familiar way, there are the some of the same suspicions about whether any of it can be believed about a former heavyweight champion who is on a quest to regain old titles and squandered riches. But there’s something else. This is an older Tyson.
You’re 55, but I bet you still think like you’re 38,” Tyson said at a surprise party at Central. He resumed training for his comeback bout on July 30 against Danny Williams. “Everybody always thinks the way they did when they were younger.”

Maybe they do, but there’s nothing cosmetic about time. It does radical surgery on opportunity. At 38, Tyson can only be certain that he has one more.

“He knows this is the time,” Tyson adviser Shelly Finkel said. “He knows he can do it. If he doesn’t, he only has himself to blame.”

The task – starting all over again for perhaps the last time – has begun at the simple gym near 17th Avenue and West Van Buren Street.

Tyson has always been comfortable there. He keeps returning, perhaps because its gritty simplicity is a reflection of who he is, or maybe of who he wants to be again. It is as unadorned, as unpretentious as the towel that he wears into the ring instead of a robe.

The reports about a more relaxed, comfortable Tyson abound, despite debts estimated to be between $38 million and $40 million. Homes in Las Vegas and Connecticut are for sale. He’s traded in estates for a small house in north-central Phoenix.

But there might have been a favorable exchange in the loss of all his money – reportedly between $300 million and $400 million. At least his trainer Freddie Roach thinks so. It stripped him of complications and entourages.

“It’s much easier to lead the simple life than the large life,” said Roach, who says Tyson is in better shape and more prepared to fight than he was before his last bout, a 49-second stoppage of Clifford Etienne in February 2003. “Right now, he’s living the simple life. He’s in a little house; he has his pigeons in the back. . . .

“Mike understands the simple life. And you know what? That other life is all bull, anyway.”

Source: azcentral.com