Published: September 8, 2005
by Alexey Dospekhov
Mike Tyson, legendary heavyweight who is now visiting Moscow, tells Kommersant correspondent Alexey Dospekhov about his plans and his views on the modern boxing.
Why have you come to Russia? You are here for the second time, arent you?
Yes. When I was here for the first time I was so young, about 20 but
this time? Im traveling. I sailed on my yacht in the Mediterranean
Sea. Ive been to France and Italy. I went to Turkey, to Istanbul.
Flavio Briatore invited me to see Formula 1. I went to Ukraine, to
Kyiv. I met there Yakov Gribov, president of Nemiroff company. He is a
great guy. He invited me to come to Moscow. My impression? A beautiful
city. But its too big, to be honest. I already prefer small and not
that noisy towns.
You met World WBC Champion Vitaly Klitschko in Kyiv. What impression did he produce on you?
He was a great host when he was showing me around in Kyiv. He is a
wonderful unique personality, one of those you hardly meet in the
boxing world. Believe me, it is amazing when a heavy-weight world
champion welcomes another champion so warmly? I noticed how they love
Vitaly in his country and the way he tries to be attentive to his fans
though a champion has lots of engagements and never has time. I think
theres only boxer who made such an impression on me. Thats Max
Schmeling [legendary German heavy-weight who died earlier this year to
be 99.] I was lucky to meet him. I felt right away that Schmeling is a
worthy, nice, versatile and respected person. He is something
incredible for our world. So, Vitaly is like him. I am absolutely sure
that he will achieve a lot in his life like Schmeling after leaving the
sports. These people, intelligent and educated, are interesting even
when they give up boxing.
Whats your take on Vitaly Klitschko as a boxer? His style is not typical for America, is it?
I think all this stuff about good or bad styles is crap. Every boxer
has his own style. Whatever somebody feels about Vitalys style, it is
efficient. He proved it when he became the world champion. It doesnt
matter if he wins or loses the next fight, hes a great boxer already.
Vitaly Klitschkos next fight is in November against Hasim Rahman. Can you predict the result of the fight?
This is sure to be a difficult one for Vitaly because Rahman is a tough
boxer. Everything will depend on how Vitaly will be prepared for the
match physically and psychologically. Hes got to be perfectly ready in
the both aspects. Probably, the psychology is even more important here.
Who will feel more at ease: the champion or the contender?
When the gong goes, there are no champions or contenders. A champion
goes up to the ring and a champion leaves it. There are only two boxers
who fight for the title between these two moments.
Its hard to name one? Probably, Vitaly. I know that he lost once to
Byrd but he had little experience then. Hes a more mature fighter now.
I guess he is able to beat Byrd. By the way, I remember that no one
took Vitaly seriously as a contender. Everyone thought that his younger
brother (his name is Vladimir, I think) will become the champion. But
Vitaly had what it takes ?? firm character and firm nerves. If you have
it you can overcome anything to get the title.
And still, whats your take on Ruiz, Byrd and Brewster?
They must prove that theyre the best. Vitaly is number one now at least because WBC is number one.
The press writes all the time that the heavy weight goes through a
crisis now saying there are few charismatic personalities now. Do you
The crisis? I dont think so. Isnt Vitaly Klitschko a charismatice
personality? Arent there boxers who want to grab the title from him?
Things are going well in the boxing now.
When will we see your next fight?
Im through with it [he smiles], I dont fight no more. Since then many
things appeared in my life that I like more that boxing now.
Do you often watch records of your fights?
I havent seen one! Ive never wanted to. Im the one who doesnt look
back. I have set myself a new goal since I was small. Ive always
pushed myself forward.
Do you have a fight that you recollect oftener than others?
I do. This is the one against Buster Douglas.
But you lost to him!
You know, when you win fights, basically, you dont learn anything
about life. People are not interested in boxers who always win. They
like those who find the strength to rise again after a defeat. Thats
the gist of the boxing. The physical fight is of no importance. The
main fight is an emotional one, social, if you like. And those who win
it become idols.
Take Che Gevara. I admire him, he had a great spirit of the fighter.
You know that Che Gevara had poor health. He was unable to walk three
blocks because of his asthma but he never showed his weakness to
anyone. He strived and he became the symbol of liberation, the struggle
for the whole world. Of course, they say in the States that he was a
Communist, an enemy and all that but Americans buy the most of T-shirts
with Che Gevara. They make hundred millions of dollars on him!
Do you know any Russia heavy-weight? Nikolay Valuev or Oleg Maskaev?
Valuev? No, I dont know him. Maskaev? Ive heard about him. Theres
one more Russian boxer? Ibragimov. Two Ibragimovs: Sultan and Timur
[Timur Ibragimov is Uzbek citizen in fact]. There are both my friends.
They are Muslim as me.
Do you see any young boxer who is capable of being a great champion like you?
I dont like it to predict the future for young fighters. Boxing is an
unfair thing. You may keep on winning but you may miss one punch and
thats it! Youll never be a champion though they used to say you will
surely become one. Well, may be its not that unfair after all. Its
like in business. Things go well but one day ?? bang! ?? and a successful
businessman turns into a beggar.
Have you ever considered becoming a trainer?
No. Im not that kind of person. A trainer must be married to his hall.
He must be devoted to his boxers like a father. I did boxing only
because my step father [Tyson means Cus DAmato] was in love with it.
He wanted me to become a champion so I couldnt disappoint him.