Boxing fans know Mike Tyson as a ferocious fighter, who once bit Evander Holyfield’s ear off during a fight. A string of criminal convictions helped shape the persona of a hard man with little respect for others.
That image has softened somewhat in recent years as he has turned his hand to acting, starring in box office comedy series The Hangover as well as hitting the spoken word circuit.
Lately, Tyson has worked on opening up and showing his softer side in his latest book ‘Iron Ambition’ a memoir of his time with mentor and trainer Cus D’Amato.
D’Amato made his name as Floyd Patterson’s manager and discovered Tyson at the age of 13 while he was still in a juvenile correction facility. Tyson recounts how D’Amato became a father figure in his life, taking him into his own home and preparing him to become the world champion from a very young age.
The book plays as a nice blend between biography and memoir, flitting between Tyson’s personal experiences growing up with D’Amato and his life philosophies and research into the trainer’s battles with the International Boxing Club of New York (IBC) and the mafia.
The narrative avoids becoming a hagiography, with Tyson willingly pointing out many of D’Amato’s failings, including being in a constant state of paranoia. He does his best to try and balance those traits against the backdrop of his battle against the boxing heavyweights, in a time when the sport was at its most corrupt.
Tyson’s love for his mentor is obvious throughout this homage and you can feel his pain and regret that D’Amato died one year before Tyson became the youngest world heavyweight titleholder in history.
Mike Tyson, with Larry Sloman
RRP $32.99 – Buy on Booktopia for $25.50