Boxing: Tyson can be, by turns, driven, charismatic and uncontrollable

By
TysonTalk

Published: July 29, 2004

When I filmed They Think It’s All Over for the BBC last year, presenter Nick Hancock asked our team to recall words that the press had used to describe heavyweight boxing legend Mike Tyson. I shouted out pitbull and ear chewer? gaining two points!


I can think of several other words to describe the legend that is Mike Tyson ?? humorous and charismatic being two.

Tomorrow night he takes on British challenger Danny Williams. The usual publicity and press calls are undertaken but Tyson keeps himself to himself with several old friends and his eight pigeons on the seventh floor of an upper-class hotel in downtown Louisville. Yes, I did say eight pigeons. They are a great passion of Tyson’s, so much so that he has to have them with him to help him to relax. It seems the police here are on Tyson’s side ?? not something he is used too ?? after he had them sneak the birds into the hotel for him, as it’s against hotel policy.

It’s a warm Monday night in Louisville, Kentucky. Tyson has flown in on a private jet as there are no commercial airlines that fly direct from Phoenix to Louisville with first class, and Tyson doesn’t do connections.

Tomorrow night he takes on British challenger Danny Williams. The usual publicity and press calls are undertaken but Tyson keeps himself to himself with several old friends and his eight pigeons on the seventh floor of an upper-class hotel in downtown Louisville. Yes, I did say eight pigeons. They are a great passion of Tyson’s, so much so that he has to have them with him to help him to relax. It seems the police here are on Tyson’s side ?? not something he is used too ?? after he had them sneak the birds into the hotel for him, as it’s against hotel policy.

I have been lucky recently to spend some time around the Tyson camp. My connection is that I’m friends with, and getting treatment for a foot problem from, Tyson’s strength and conditioning trainer, Ian Danney. So I’ve been in a position to watch Tyson spar, hear the latest gossip and also chat to the guy himself.

The past week has been very interesting. I have really enjoyed the build up to a big-time boxing match. It’s a completely different world ?? a lot of high finance and, if you’re in Tyson’s camp, very demanding.

Tyson began training for this fight only four months ago, turning up on the first day of training with Danney covered in pigeon poo, weighing in at 260lb and with 24 per cent body fat. Now tipping the scales at about 230lb and in decent shape, he should deal with Williams comfortably.

Danney admits that handling Tyson is hard work. He sets his programmes and every morning gets a chef to deliver his meals for the day, which Tyson sometimes proceeds to eat in one sitting. This man does what he likes, when he likes. It’s not unusual for him to just get up and go on a six-mile run when he’s not supposed to. You can see he is driven, determined and talented, but also wild, demanding and sometimes uncontrollable.

Tyson has been training extremely hard and has only this week stopped sparring on a daily basis. Last week in Arizona he was being carefully watched over at ringside by his team, including his two boxing coaches, one being the highly respected Freddy Roach. They shout advice and give him direction. Getting an “up close and personal” glance at such a strong athlete sparring is awesome. He may not be quite the Tyson of old, but he is still quick and packs a punch. The session completed, I was left giggling at ringside when he was looking for reassurance from his battered sparring partner that his punches were actually hurting him.

So having tapered down his training and completed the publicity drive, which drew a crowd of more than 5,000 people to a boxing demonstration downtown, he relaxes. All athletes find it boring waiting to compete, you just want to get on with it.

Spending meal times out with Tyson’s camp is entertaining and interesting. The stories flow and I inquire about Mike as a person. He has made more than $400 million in his career and is $38 million in debt. He may not be as dumb as people think, but he is appalling with money.

You can feel the excitement growing as the fight draws nearer. There are more fans outside the hotel, more tension in the camp, fight night has nearly arrived.

So, as Tyson relaxes upstairs with his pigeons and another meal approaches, and as Team Tyson debate the upcoming fight, I look forward to tomorrow. I will wear my favourite dress and look the part when I take my seat, and I’ll be nervous for Mike and his team. He plans three more fights after this one and it’s so important that he nails this fight impressively. Ding ding! Round one?

By Katharine Merry

Source: telegraph