Mike Tyson, the youngest heavyweight boxing champion to date, winning his title at the age of 20 in 1986, is typically remembered for his “life in the fast lane” lifestyle, has released an autobiography named Undisputed Truth that sheds light on certain aspects of this famous boxer no one knew beforehand.
The book has acute ups and downs that, in some cases, could hardly be called something that actually comes from the image of Mike Tyson most people know. He includes literary references to Alexandre Dumas, Tolstoy, Lenin and Tennessee Williams. And at other times, it seems to be spot-on.
He puts in genuine effort to allow the reader to make sense of what is a crazy life. He gives cinematic recollections of individual fights in great detail, long and colorful explanations of his “bling-bling” lifestyle that included a grand Las Vegas mansion furnished with a pool “ringed with seven-foot statues of fierce warriors like Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Genghis Khan and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the Haitian revolutionary.”
He goes into expositions about drug and sex binges, explaining that he at one point was “juggling at least 20” different girlfriends.
His childhood was tumultuous, to say the least. He led the isolated life of, at least he felt at the time, an overweight boy living in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of 7, he was recruited by an older boy to sneak into houses and steal things. He used the stolen money he found to buy pigeons and nice clothes. He owned a yellow ski suit, despite the fact he’d never been on a ski slope his entire life.
One of his favorite pigeons that he owned was killed by an older boy who bullied him constantly, named Gary: “twisted the bird’s head off and threw it at me, smearing the blood all over my face and shirt”
While being taught how to box by the infamous Cus D’Amato, he learned how to keep the psychological advantage in his favor by adopting a savage persona both in and out of the ring. It was said early on that he was too small to be a heavyweight fighter. He had subsequent fantasies about actually killing someone in the ring, which would “certainly intimidate anyone.” His trainer was trying to aim for an antisocial savage persona, so Tyson began to hold himself after the bad guys he saw in movies.
After the death of D’Amato in 1985 left him feeling lost and abandoned, and when his loss in the ring to Lennox Lewis in 2002 came around, he found that his desire to be the savage, to be “Iron Mike” as he put it, had disappeared. His body had been weakened over the years from excessive partying and debauchery.
He is a father and a husband now, living modestly, compared to the hectic lifestyle that he had led before. He has had struggles with being sober off of drugs, alcohol, and even cigarettes. For a span of time, he was not sober but saying he was, which he came out in an interview and fully admitted to in mid-2013.
But his dedication to being sober, and the lifestyle that he believes it encourages, are not to be taken as feign. As of February 2014, he says that he has been sober for about 6 months. “I’m just still fighting every day,” Tyson said in an interview with CBS. “Every day I’m fighting. Any day can make me relapse.”
Tyson is working to change his image to the world, and his autobiography and newfound sobriety are proof that someone who was trained in the art of hurting people is not the same person that he was once before.
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Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.