An acquaintance of Mike Tyson once told me the boxer “has no mind – there’s a rattlesnake coiled up inside his head.”
That head, the rattlesnake and the rest of Iron Mike should be put away for good and watched after, for his sake and for the safety of the public.
The former heavyweight champ will appear in a Phoenix court Nov. 19 and could face four years in prison for drunken driving and cocaine possession. He pleaded guilty to the charges Monday.
This guy will never learn.
If he’s not doing prison time on a rape conviction, he’s belting a parking lot attendant outside a nightclub, or hauled into court where a woman is awarded $100 by a civil jury in an incident in which Tyson allegedly grabbed her breasts.
If he’s not threatening to drink an opponent’s blood, he’s biting Evander Holyfield twice – once on each ear – and is suspended, his boxing license revoked.
Fifteen years ago, his prison sentence on the rape conviction was extended by 15 days when he threatened a guard.
Tyson has blown the $300 million or so that he’s won in the boxing ring and most of his shady coterie has deserted him. But he has a friend in The Associated Press news service, who can scarcely stand the thought of Tyson wearing pink underwear “and working on a chain gang” under Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
“I’ve really got to wonder what is to gain” by such punishment, wrote the AP’s sports columnist, Tim Dahlberg. He frets about Tyson spending time in “a tent prison run by a sheriff who likes nothing better than to get his name in the newspaper and his face on TV.”
Dahlberg finds it “laughable” that the prosecution suggests Tyson be put away to protect the public.
“A more proper sentence,” says the AP writer, “would be probation, with a mandatory prison term should he test positive for drugs and alcohol or break any laws.”
This is part of the problem. Tyson has been given the benefit of the doubt – and reduced sentences – too many times in the past. Any ordinary thug would have been locked up long ago for the rest of his life.
But the AP snivels that Iron Mike, as “a recovering addict living quietly in a rehab center,” is no danger to anyone. “He’s been clean and sober for eight months,” writes Dahlberg, “and if you believe his attorney, he’s committed to staying that way.”
Obviously Dahlberg does believe Tyson’s attorney.
On the other hand, if Mike is picked up on a DUI charge, with cocaine in his possession, he is a danger to anyone who might be on the same street.
Show me a fighter, to paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I’ll write you a tragedy. The fight game is filled with people desperate to climb out of poverty and a hellish existence. It always has been that way and always will be.
But most fighters and ex-fighters don’t go around assaulting women, beating up parking lot attendants and biting people’s ears off. Mike Tyson has gotten off too easy too many times in his troubled life.
He had an opportunity few of us ever have, to use his wealth in helping others – disadvantaged ghetto kids like himself, for example, and he blew it. In the words of Simon and Garfunkel, he squandered his resistance for a pocket full of mumbles and now “he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down, or cut him till he cried out in his anger and his shame.”
Tyson needs to be put away in a safe place – even if it means wearing pink underwear and living in one of Sheriff Joe’s tents – as long as that rattlesnake is coiled up inside his head.
Retired columnist Corky Simpson writes every Saturday for the Citizen.