Tyson ( 2009 IMDB ) is a documentary about the boxer Mike Tyson and directed by James Toback. Most of the film is an interview with Tyson. Tyson comes across as a surprisingly interesting figure who came from very harsh circumstances and rose to great heights but then through crime and drugs failed to maintain his position and really failed to live up to his potential.

Tyson the boxer was a phenomenon, certainly one of the greatest fighters of all time. He combined the huge hitting power of a heavyweight with the speed of a much lighter boxer. The documentary shows some of his fights as he was rising and when he was at the height of his powers, his speed and power looks to be something out of a computer game or a film and looks super human. And this is against some of the toughest fighters in the world. Tyson was fairly small for a heavyweight and had considerably less reach than many of his opponents.

Tyson’s life story is interesting. In his childhood his probable father walked out, he was subject to rampant violence and gun threats and wound up in crime himself, he went to detention and then discovered boxing which transformed him and gave him the discipline to use his prodigious gifts. His trainer was Cus D’Amato who would be a father figure to Tyson. D’Amato died in 1985, early on into Tyson’s career.

Tyson rose to become the undisputed world champion, but in the late 1980s he would get married and divorced and as he says he began to consume drugs and become very promiscuous. The money that Tyson was earning attracted sharks like Don King. He went on to lose the World Championship and then his life went off the rails. He was convicted of rape. He spent 3 years in jail until 1995. The rape is discussed, Tyson maintains his innocence and believes he was set up.

When he returned to fighting in 1995 he would go on to earn a considerable amount of money, but he had slipped. He fought Evander Holyfield in 1996 and lost which was big surprise. Tyson accused Hollyfield of head butting him to gain an advantage. The two had a rematch in which Tyson bit Hollyfield’s ear twice. Tyson was then disqualified.

Tyson continued to fight, but was in decline. He retired in 2005. He quit in the seventh round against a journeyman fighter. The doco has a really honest interview that Tyson gave at the time.

The documentary is interesting but ultimately doesn’t really grab the viewer. It’s similar to the documentary on Maradona . Both films are worth watching if you have some interest in the subjects but are not particularly good. Tyson is no When We Were Kings which is gripping even for those with no interest in sport.



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