Mike Tyson on the Globes

Has there been a more riveting heavyweight Champion than Mike Tyson? We won’t presume to know the answer to the question of his ultimate ranking among boxing greats, that’s best left to sports experts and pundits, but we’d be hard-pressed to name someone, boxer or otherwise, that is a more compelling figure. Anyone that attended the pre-fight press conferences during his legendary and controversial career, will surely agree. Those promotional events were sometimes surreal affairs where his hard-scrabble roots would mix with erudite pronouncements, volatile showdowns with opponents or impromptu philosophy lessons, only to later give way to the awesome fierceness he was capable of in the ring.

On that ring, and out of it, Tyson paid for his transgressions, losing crucial battles in the courts of law as well as in that of public opinion. Bankrupt and battered, only a couple of years ago it seemed he might also lose the fight with his demons and stumble, like many a fighter before him, down a bitter twilight path. But Iron Mike was apparently not done with comebacks. Today he has a reality show on Fox Sports, an HBO version of his Broadway Show directed by Spike Lee and an unnamed upcoming project with Werner Herzog (we hear it has to do the wars of the Roman Empire). In 2000 Mike Tyson started his film career with a cameo as himself in James Toback’s Black and White. In that scene he knocked out a character played by Robert Downey Jr.; Iron Mike slapping around the future Iron Man. Toback also directed a documentary on Tyson while the former champ would go on to something of a film career whose high point so far has been sharing in The Hangover’s Golden Globe award for best comedy – by our count that makes him the only Golden Globe alum to also own heavyweight titles.A few days ago Mr. Tyson stopped by HFPA headquarters for a little Q&A.

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