Joyce Carol Oates writes on the rise and fall of Mike Tyson in a series of essays following his career.
The scandal of Holyfield-Tyson II forces admirers of boxing to consider: Why is biting any more demonic than fighting itself? Its demonism isn’t conventional, that’s all.
Mike Tyson’s conviction on rape charges in Indianapolis is a minor tragedy for the beleaguered sport of boxing, but a considerable triumph for women’s rights. For once, though bookmakers were giving 5-1 odds that Tyson would be acquitted, and the mood of the country seems distinctly conservative, a jury resisted the outrageous defense that a rape victim is to be blamed for her own predicament.
There is an unsettling air about Tyson, with his impassive death’s-head face, his unwavering stare, and his refusal to glamorize himself in the ring—no robe, no socks, only the signature black trunks and shoes—that the violence he unleashes against his opponents is somehow just.
Confronted with an opponent like “Bonecrusher” Smith, who violates the decorum of the ring by not fighting, Tyson is at a loss; he hits his man after the bell, in an adolescent display of frustration.
Mike Tyson, a boy warrior, has become legendary, in a sense, before there is a legend to define him. And never has the collective will of a crowd—the very nearly palpable wish of a crowd—been more powerfully expressed than it is tonight in Las Vegas.
Joyce Carol Oates attended a screening of James Toback’s documentary Tyson with the director and Iron Mike himself, and participated in a Q & A session, as reported in New […]