Throwback Thursday: Mike Tyson can kill anyone

By That's, March 5, 2015

0 0

Throwback Thursday is when we dig through the That's archives for a work of extraordinary genius, or timely relevance, written at some point in our past. We then republish it - on a Thursday.

While flipping through a copy of the October 2013 edition of That's Beijing, one article jumped off the page and punched me in the face. (Anytime someone talks about killing someone or giant Caucasians, it's going to get your attention.)

The following story, written by Mark Dreyer, recaps Mike Tyson's 2013 Weibo interview, it proves both insightful and confusing at times and it's definitely worth a read.

So enjoy as everyone’s least-favorite retired boxer, Mike Tyson, shares some wisdom (or lack thereof).  

When Mike Tyson joined Weibo last month, he started with a simple question: “Who is the best fighter in China?” Netizens pointed to the chengguan, China's notorious ‘urban management’ officials. Tyson, Weibo users said, should put the chengguan in their place; others joked he wouldn’t have a hope.

Tyson shot back, in a now-infamous deleted post, by asking, “Who is Chengguan? A tough man? I’ve never heard it.”

Whether or not he was the one writing the post, Tyson certainly seemed to know about the story when asked about it at a recent promotional appearance in Beijing. But to the dismay of his many fans here, he’s not up to the chengguan challenge.

“I don’t box anyone no more,” he replied, adding ominously, “But I can kill anyone.”

The man he’s been closest to killing, though, is himself. Tyson spent years indulging, then battling, drink and drugs. But he says that life is now in the past: one month ago, in fact. That’s how long he’s been sober —and counting.

In 1988, Tyson earned an inflation-adjusted USD3.36 million for every minute he fought in the ring. These days, though, he lives hand to mouth.

The press event organized in Beijing this September had him hawking a cold and flu prevention supplement called Quike.

But his lifetime supply of pills will sadly go to waste: somewhat undermining the brand, Tyson proudly proclaims that he has never caught a cold.

In the midst of selling a product he will never use, in a country he has visited twice before, the boxer offered to extend this one-off promotion. “You need to give me a commercial deal,” he joked to someone offstage. “I will help America get well Quike.”

Yet not even he held much interest in what he was there to advertise. “What’s the name again?” he asked his handlers. It was typically bizarre – in the way that everything tends to be with Tyson these days – but he holds attention through a combination of enthusiasm, energy and the sense that anything could happen next.

Tyson may have turned 47 this year, but in some ways he still acts like an overgrown kid. He joked on stage with his co-host (whom he named the “Chinese Mario Lopez”), pranced about with a couple of scantily-clad aerobic instructors, and offered semi-serious thoughts on audience members as they attempted to hit a punching bag as many times as possible in 10 seconds.

A woman whose rapid touches barely made the bag move had Tyson laughing about the counter system that scored her as the winner. “It must be broken,” he said. “No way she got 52.”

But he is capable of surprising without being sensational, talking at length about why he enjoys racing pigeons – “It’s just something I’ve always been into” – and health issues. His older sister Denise died of a heart attack at aged 24, and Tyson blames obesity – she reportedly weighed as much as 400 pounds.

He doesn’t want his own children to call him “a big, fat pig,” he says. It’s a typically tragicomic Tyson moment, dealing with his sister’s death through black humor.

Despite being clearly frustrated with the constant translating between Chinese and English, Tyson spoke excitedly about wanting to visit other parts of China. His interest seemed genuine, if somewhat misguided at times.

“In the desert, there are giant Caucasians. They don’t know where they came from,” he claims, in a (presumed) reference to the myth about the lost Roman legion in Gansu. “They’re around 9 or 10 feet tall. Are you aware of that?”

When it comes to Chinese boxing, though, his knowledge is less impressive. He had heard of Zou Shiming, the two-time Olympic champion who recently turned pro, but hadn’t seen any of his fights.

Tyson’s life has always been car-crash TV. Now Being: Mike Tyson, a six-part series on his life, will make that a literal truth when it airs this fall. In the show, he jokes with old foe Evander Holyfield – nothing sums up Tyson’s contradictions better than the fact that the man whose ear he bit off in their infamous 1997 bout is now a close friend.

In a video before he walked on stage, Tyson said there were times he felt more comfortable in a street fight than in the ring. You get the feeling that the continued battle against his inner demons will always be something of a brawl, one that, as ever, the world will be watching, whether on TV – or Weibo.

// This article first appeared in the October 2013 edition of That's Beijing. For more Throwback Thursdays click here. 

more news

Throwback Thursday: The myth of Luo Meizhen

For this week's Throwback Thursday we are turning the clock back to July 2013. The following article, written by Ned Kelly, examines claims that Luo Meizhen of Bama County, Guangxi Province, is the oldest person to have ever lived (as far as anyone knows anyway).

Throwback Thursday: Turtle Power

This week we turn back time, to February 2014, to discover the power of foresight locked within a turtle's shell. The following article, titled Turtle Power, was written by Lena Gidwani and originally published as part of a cover story on fortune-telling traditions in the Middle Kingdom.

The Life of Lao She, the First People's Writer

All about the 20th century Chinese author's serious satire.

Throwback Thursday: A Fond Farewell

Written by Christian Edwards, this article served as his final farewell to Guangzhou before moving away.

This Day in History: The Marco Polo Bridge Incident

On July 7, 1937, the cataclysmic event that led to the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

PHOTOS: Take a Look at the Real Santa's Workshop

How your Christmas decorations are made.

Useful Mandarin Phrases: Thanksgiving

A list of essential Thanksgiving phrases to help you through the classic American holiday!

This Day in History: China Star Li Ning Shines at 1984 Olympics

Defying a Soviet Union-led boycott, Li Ning earns the nickname Prince of Gymnasts.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at ThatsGuangzhou for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Guangzhou With

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's !

Visit the archives