"Champ of Immorality"
What You Need To Know:
TYSON is a documentary about boxing champion Mike Tyson. The movie’s quest begins the first line of the film: “Who am I?” Tyson is arrested as a youth and takes up boxing in prison. Once out, his rise to fame follows as he wins the Heavyweight Championship. However, the personal life is in shambles as Tyson details his sexual exploits and partying. He admits he wants to dominate women, which was chronicled in his divorce to Robin Givens. Tyson has a hard time answering the question, “Who am I?” Despite a conversion to Islam, Tyson says he’s searching for who he is and meaning in life.
TYSON is a well-made documentary that lets Mike Tyson tell his life story in his own words. Most of the movie is Tyson talking. There are archival photos and clips from boxing matches. People close to Tyson speak on camera. There is much strong boxing violence, including a clip of the famous shot of Tyson biting off Christian boxer Evander Holyfield’s ear. While it is not shown, Tyson often speaks graphically about his promiscuous lifestyle. Tyson also calls himself a “god.” This content requires extreme caution.
(PaPaPa, FRFR, LLL, VV, SS, N, A, DD, MMM) Very strong pagan, Islamic worldview as main character who converted to Islam says it is a “religion of humanity,” mixed with elements of promiscuity and violence; two profanities, 12 vulgar statements, and 18 obscenities, including some graphic sexual descriptions; much strong boxing violence, man bites ear off another man with blood, and references to man’s violence toward women; two references to sex and one very detailed description of sexual acts; men in boxing shorts; alcohol is discussed but nothing on screen shown; illegal drugs and sales of illegal drugs are discussed; and, self-worship, lack of discipline, uncontrolled rage, man looks for his identity in fame and fortune, and references to stealing.
TYSON is a documentary about heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. The movie’s quest begins with a question and the first line of the film: “Who am I?” Tyson seems incapable of answering the question, however.
A fat kid, horribly insecure, unsure who his father is, living in one abusive and explicit environment after another, Mike Tyson fell through the cracks. Mercilessly bullied, and repeatedly robbed, often at gunpoint, Mike is pushed over he edge when a neighborhood bully kills one of his prized pet pigeons, snapping its neck in front of him. His characteristic rage is released for the first time, and he wins this first of many fights. Quickly finding himself sucked into crime as a pre-teenage drug thug, he ends up in the juvenile system.
In prison, he is introduced to the sport of boxing. Coach Bobby Stewart, demonstrating a punch, knocks Tyson out, which gains Tyson’s respect. In order to prove himself as worthy of training, Tyson stopped robbing and got his grades up. Coach Stewart took notice, transferring him to Coach Cus D’Amato, the legendary boxing trainer.
Cus D’Amato, already in his 70s, became both mentor and father figure to Mike. They had a very deep connection. Mike needed Cus, and Cus needed Mike, who describes Mike’s training as “the reason I’m still alive.” Cus invested his life in Mike, teaching him about discipline and character. Cus built Mike’s confidence and made him a part of a real family.
Mike went on to win every fight he entered, still holding the fastest knockout on the books for the Junior Olympics: 8 seconds! Winning the heavyweight championship was the main goal, however. A goal Cus wouldn’t live to see Mike attain.
Cus’ death at 77 destroyed 19 year old Mike. This man-child, desperate to be loved, only just beginning to learn who he is, is left abandoned, alone, and very afraid. With his manager’s help, he pulls himself together and bulls his way forward, taking the heavyweight championship and beginning a string of wins rarely paralleled in the boxing world.
All the while, the man searches. At times very explicit, he discusses his sexual escapades, rage, alcoholism, and the false identity of fame. He becomes increasingly undisciplined. Married at 20, divorced at 21. The man looks for his identity in sex, money, fame, and women. His first Heavyweight Championship is won while suffering from an STD due to a liaison with a prostitute.
Mike speaks first of Cus D’Amato as “my great god” – only then to declare when he is in the ring, “I am a god.”
After his first divorce, Mike again shares feelings of abandonment only then to devolve into detailed descriptions of his sexual preferences and a desire to dominate women. He becomes consumed in self-worship, undisciplined, and wild – inevitably losing the championship.
An apparent rape leads to a three-year prison sentence and the culmination of the preceding self-destructive behavior. Whatever moral lessons of character D’Amato may have instilled seem entirely lost. Becoming a Muslim in prison more out of rage against society than anything else, Tyson seems to embrace an identity of rage.
Throughout the documentary, Tyson contradicts himself , “I lost my faith and trust in God, I became a Muslim in prison.“ He goes on to describe the inhumanity of prison life in some graphic detail.
Once out of prison, he becomes a kind of animal. He manages to take the Title again, but resumes the lifestyle he had before, this time in spades, like a dog returning to its vomit. He once again begins to believe he is a “god,” special and in need of no training or discipline.
In 1997, Tyson and Christian boxer Evander Holyfield meet again for the infamous rematch in which a self described “totally insane” Tyson bites Holyfield’s ear. . . twice! The match is called, and Tyson is finished and loses his license.
Tyson is able to fight three more times, each time more pathetic than the last, as the fabric of this hungry boy’s soul continues to unravel.
After his last fight, Mike responds, “[there was] a great stain in my heart, an emptiness. . . nothing fulfilled the big hole I had in my life. . . there has to be something else that I’m looking for. I don’t know what I’m going to do. . . it’s something I’m dealing with.”
If only Mike Tyson would know of Pascal’s statement that we all have a “God shaped hole” and that God is Jesus Christ, who died for our sins so that we may become real men and women, liberated servants of the One True God, and not slaves to other people or our own lusts.