The world at large has grown tired of waiting for Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. to go toe-to-toe to dispute the mythical title of greatest pound-for-pound boxer on earth. So now a new argument has risen among boxing circles: yet again, it involves Mike Tyson, the greatest heavyweight champion in my opinion, and whether or not he should be inducted to the Boxing Hall of Fame.
While it would be a stretch to liken him to the Michael Jordans and Tiger Woods, you can’t question Mike’s impact on his sport.
His performance in the square was rivaled only by his colorful life outside it. Outside the ring, he was collecting and carressing docile pigeons. But once he stomped into the ring, his menacing demeanor and earth-rattling haymakers made him the world’s youngest heavyweight champion.
He may not have been marketable for certain brands but he did bring drums of money to the federation. His TKOs and drug addictions sold tickets and PPV subscriptions; the moneymen clearly have a motive to put Tyson on the Hall of Fame ballot for 2011. But regardless of their sleighted approach, Iron Mike has earned his throne.
Nothing can change this. Not the blasphemies, horrible financial mismanagement, wife battery, rape charges, ear biting, or the gruesome threats to pleasure opponent’s spouses and then gobble their children. When the gloves were on, Mike was a champ and that’s what he’s being awarded for.
Yes, before you even begin to judge him, take a walk in his shoes and show me how many young ones get lost on the dark path of ghetto life: drugs, violence, sex, oppression; and still make it to be
responsible… respectable…successful upstanding members of society. Hmm, let’s see……
Besides the Boxing Hall of Fame isn’t the moral high-ground of the sporting industry, nor is it the most rigorous of selection processes. Emile Griffith got in despite controversial wins, Jack Johnson’s flamboyance didn’t keep him out; old-timer or young, they are a pretty tarnished bunch. But they are all great fighters. And while few are as monstrous as Tyson in his hay-day, none smashed Boxing back into the consciousness of the world at a time when it was almost dying on its feet.
He lived a hard-knock life and fought his way out of it. He landed in the toughest of competitive sports and fought his way to the top of that. He became an entertainment pariah and even embraced and excelled at that. He rose to every challenge, and although he took the wrong way around it, finally become an excellent father, spouse and role model. Is that not the definition of a boxing champion? In any ring or arena, against any size of opponent, he will not give up until he wins.