2002-06-15 / Columnists

From the G-Man by Gary G. Toms

Saving Iron Mike's Legacy

Since I am a man who has no problem giving credit where credit is due, I want to say how proud I was of the way Mike Tyson reacted after his battle with Lennox Lewis last week. I truly expected him to come out of his dressing room spewing one obscenity after another. I expected him to resort to the Tyson of old by thrashing Lewis from one end of the ring to the other with his devastating punching power. I expected him to brag, yell and maintain his knack for ignoring sentence structure and grammar. I was totally surprised when the man I once described as a lunatic allowed his human side to show by wiping blood from Lewis' face during Lewis' post-fight commentary with Jim Gray. To me, that spoke volumes.

While many people called Tyson a punk, a whimp or a word that rhymes with "wussy," for his lackluster performance, I looked at his performance in the ring in a different way. I felt there was a deep sense of symbolism in the fight. For example, the fact that Tyson was beaten with the lethal Lennox Lewis jab, was fitting in that Tyson took so many jabs at people when he lead the thug lifestyle, be they critics, other fighters or the public.

Tyson's reluctance to go after Lewis during the eight round contest showed that both Father Time, and the forces that were determined to punish him for all the wrongs he committed, had finally beaten Tyson. He knew that the beating he was getting was a long time in coming, and he took it not just for himself, but also for all those who loved and believed in him. That is the only reason why he did not fight Lewis like the Tyson of old, and when he finally hit the canvas, he realized that it all was coming full circle.

I thought that Tyson said something amazing during the press conference after the fight. A reporter asked Tyson if he would fight again or move on with his life. Most comedians will have a field day with Tyson's response, but I think he should be commended on what he said.

"I'm done. I just want to fade into oblivion. I just want to be with my pigeons. I want to raise my pigeons on the rooftops of Brooklyn and be in peace," he said.

If he truly is serious about this, then I suspect that Tyson is on the road to finding himself. He is ready to leave all the negative forces around him, and walk a path to becoming a better individual and a better man. His hardest critics say that it's all an act, and that he will be in jail in no less than six months for assault or rape charges. Quite frankly, I am hoping that Tyson will shut them all up by finally becoming one hell of a role model. Mike, if you're listening, the G-man has some ideas on how you can salvage your career and your legacy as a great champion, and elevate your social status at the same time.

First, take some time off and go to Africa. Don't go to hang out with the boys, go alone. Just go to see how children and babies are dying by the hundreds every day because of AIDS. Cry for those children Mike. Go to witness the many tribes and cultures that are part of the great continent. Bond with the motherland Mike, first and foremost. It will go a long way into helping you to understand yourself and your heritage.

Once you come back, start getting rid of all the fancy homes, cars, furs and nonsense. You no longer need the flash and cash lifestyle. Instead, live a modest and quiet life. Take the money you receive from these sales and, working with funding from government agencies, set up community boxing centers in inner city neighborhoods throughout New York and the country. By working with some of the greatest boxers in the sports' history, "The Mike Tyson Boxing Academy" would provide training, guidance and leadership skills to many underprivileged children and young adults in poor areas. In addition, your facility could offer tutorial services for students who are struggling in math, reading or other school related subjects. Someone gave you a chance to be successful when you were young Mike, and this is how you could return the favor.

Next, go to the gravesite of the man you called father most of your life, Cus D'Amato. Go as often as you can, and talk to him about everything that has happened to you since he died. Apologize for the times that you may have let him down, or acted out of character, and pledge to him that you will strive to be a better man as the days progress. Do it Mike. You will be surprised at how good you will feel once you do.

I'm rooting for Mike Tyson, and I have faith that he is on the verge of getting his life together. I know I've been merciless on him in this column in the past, but I really saw a transformation before, during and after the fight. It may be one of my biggest faults, but I believe that people are good at heart, and that includes Tyson. I think he has finally realized that his best years are behind him, and that he must now plan for the future.

There is no need for Tyson to try and recapture those glory days as the undisputed heavyweight champion. There is no need to go back to a lifestyle that only brought him pain and suffering. Tyson will forever rank as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. The only thing left for him to prove, to himself, is that he can be just as great at living a normal and productive life and surrounding himself with real friends. That's what being a true champion, in and out of the ring, is all about.

See you next week!

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