In 1986 this 20 year old brute of a man became the youngest ever World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. 'Iron' Mike Tyson or 'Mighty Mike', call him what you will, this guy was the Pit Bull of the boxing ring. The most feared Heavyweight Boxer that the world had ever seen, he could literally knock anyone out in a matter of minutes, such was his ferocity.
However, the world of boxing is a roller coaster of a ride at the best of times. There's been an endless list of the rise and falls of talent for as far back as I can remember. It was hardly surprising that in a matter of short successive years it all became a tale of woes for Mike Tyson. Pity really, as his was the talent that could have reigned supreme for a long, long time. This guy was streets ahead of anyone.
Although he can never lay claim to being 'The Greatest' Mike Tyson was certainly one of the very best. At the peak of his powers he was simply untouchable and it's fair to say that he has left his mark as a great champion. Those that saw him in his prime will tell you that this was not a guy to say boo to. He rose through the ranks at an astonishing pace and as he literally bulldozed down any and every boxer that stood in front of him he also re-wrote some of the record books.
Born and raised in downtown Brooklyn New York, lavished with the trappings of immense overnight success, enclosed by the mental fragility of an insecure upbringing. That is, in a nutshell the complex story of the troubled man behind the mask of Mike Tyson.
What this documentary does is try to present the man, the boxer and the child within in a brutally honest fashion. Folks, take it from me this is one hell of a documentary. Granted, it all comes from his perspective but don't let that put you off. Rest assured, whilst there was probably a propensity for it to become a one sided viewpoint, there is no one who knows Tyson better than Tyson himself. What you get here is a man who opens up to everything and lays it all bear to make of it what you will.
Director James Toback has basically sat the ex-boxer in front of a camera and said 'speak'. Now that might not sound the most well thought out approach in making a movie; this is a guy who after all suffers from a heavy lisp and has always had a difficulty of expressing himself, so surely not?
In hindsight it was a stroke of genius. Why? Basically because Mike Tyson sings like a humming bird and tells it all. 40 years of hurt, pride, pain and insecurity come pouring out at you and it's as if someone has opened the emotional floodgates. More so this is a Tyson like you've never seen before. This is Mike Tyson floored on the canvas, gasping for breath, clambering for the ropes and begging for the towel to be thrown in.
There is of course the usual montage of boxing highlights and footage that track his life and career. That in itself paints a highly entertaining movie but its how Tyson opens up as a person that really elevates this into a far more fascinating documentary.
The money, the women, the effect of prison and the centric bearing religion now has in his life. It's all here and nothing is left out. His early years are well traced and his late trainer Cus D'Amato naturally features quite heavily. Hardly surprising since he was not only his mentor but a fatherly figure to him. When he died the wheels all but came off the Tyson road show; the leeches of the boxing fraternity, the media and otherwise slowly took poor old Mike to town.
There's so much going on here it's so difficult to start. Every facet of his life is touched upon and you get to see the man-child that he truly is. Clearly what he has lacked most throughout his life has been a long term father figure and it's left him with an insecurity which is still quite evident. He's not been helped by the fact that he's been long surrounded by the wrong type of people for most of his life. Unfortunately the 'Baddest man on the planet' also attracted the undesirables of the planet as well and that includes the women. His failed 8 month marriage to actress Robin Givens was the most shocking display of gold digging there has been. She literally ran rings around him and humiliated him for all to see.
Ultimately Tyson the boxer has weathered a storm and been battered by life. Sure, he was awesome in the ring but he's been outboxed and outfoxed by life itself. What you get here is the man within bearing his emotional battle scars. It's a classic rags to riches story, coming almost back to the rags. In his own words he never expected to reach the age of 40. The fact is he has, which amounts for a meaningful story to be told. His talent was insane and he was thrown into the confines of a boxing ring left to make sanity of the only life he knew. This is a sporting documentary like no other and makes essential viewing for any self respecting boxing fan.
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