Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tyson: After Holyfield "I Drank Some Liquor And Smoked Some Weed And Fell Asleep"

(image via cnn)

Glenn O'Brien is doing a bang-up job at Interview. the past two issues have been a step up from the staid Interview of years past (sorry, Ingrid). In the August issue -- on newsstands now -- Hooman Majd interviews the colorful James Toback, the director of the new Mike Tyson documentary which received a standing ovation at Cannes. Toback, who, like The Corsair, has had a lifetime fascination with the sport of boxing, talks about the most infamous boxing fight ever: the Tyson ear biting episode. And while, yes, there is nothing that could quite justify the loss of a portion of ones ear, it is obvious to anyone who saw that fight that Holyfield was head-butting Tyson monstrously. Tyson, a former street kid with a bit of a temper, is not the type of guy who lets that sort of thing go unchecked. From Interview, August 2008:

"Hooman Majd: What's interesting is that what Tyson is famous for--in the boxing world, at least--is his biting of Evander Holyfield's ears during their heavyweight championship fight in 1997. In this movie, even though there are clips of that fight, his actions seem almost justified--which I had never imagined. You look at it in your movie and go, 'Wait a second, he should've bitten his head off, not just his ear!'

"James Toback: Absolutely. I did say to Tyson from the beginning that we've got to address the two things that you are, unfortunately, known for more than anything: the rape conviction and the ear biting. And the voice-over he does of the Holyfield fight is as dramatically compelling as the voice-over he would do of any other fight. He's a real boxing historian, and he does a great commentary on all fights, but here he's talking about himself biting Holyfield's ear off. And again, it's not an attempt to justify. It's just an attempt to say, 'This was what was in my mind, and this was what was happening that caused it.' And you see Holyfield choosing to take that huge, hard--and, one hesitates to say, steroid-enlarged--head ... You think about that huge, hard head, and how it was used as a weapon to butt Tyson over and over again--in the first of their fights, as well. It looks like it was a conscious decision on Holyfield's part to come in and butt him around the eyes. Tyson says, 'I turned to the referee, and he did nothing,' and you see him look toward [referee] Mills Lane, who just ignores him, and you feel, 'You should do something to Holyfield.'

"Hooman Majd: I was rooting for Tyson.

"James Toback: He says, 'I felt like killing everyone in his [Holyfield's] corner!' Tyson extended the rage. And then--and it's probably one of the most touching and haunting moments in the movie and a sociologically revealing one--Tyson says, 'I went insane in the ring. I forgot about the Marquess of Queensberry rules. I didn't care.' And you see him go totally berserk. After the fight is over, and Holyfield is declared the winner, and everybody is filing out, Mike Tyson is still trying to get at everybody -- he still wants to get at Holyfield and kill him. People are trying to hold Tyson back. And then the sound fades, and Tyson says about that night: 'I went home alone, and I sat there, and I drank some liquor and smoked some weed and fell asleep.' And you have this image of probably one of the three or four most famous people in the world doing something in the ring, which is probably the most famous negative act in the history of boxing, with hundreds of millions of people witnessing it, and three hours later he's alone, drinking alcohol and smoking weed and falling asleep ... The extreme movement from one place to the other in the same night is quite fascinating."

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