Diary Entry Nine: What Did Mike Tyson Say?
OMG! Something happened. Something big…
The day after I last wrote, I spent the day working at a Fans’ Convention at Earl’s Court. (I played the scary clown in Ashes to Ashes). I went along, but I felt a fraud. I was talking to these wonderful Ashes to Ashes fans, and they were saying: “Is he real, the clown?” And I explained: “Well I think he exists in a spiritual realm, like an angel.” And they said: “Have you ever met an angel?” I said: “No.” They said: “Would you like to meet one?” “I wouldn’t mind,” I admitted. But I’d prefer to meet Mike Tyson!”
Tyson was the top act at the fan convention. Somewhere behind a curtain, Iron Mike was charging 75 quid a go, for a signed picture, and people were queuing in their hundreds to see him. I could see why. I couldn’t imagine someone whose physical presence I’d be more curious to see… Aged 20, Tyson tore into Trevor Berbick, the reigning WBC Champion, and he took him out, like a Rottweiler taking our the postman… I just wanted to see the man.
And I went into the VIP bit, and there he was, alone by the yoghurt. There was Tyson, with a white t-shirt and a huge tattoo on his face. I was looking at him, and thinking: OK… so now I’ve seen him.
But then that wasn’t enough.
I felt I should ask him a question. But what? Mike, why did you bite Evander Holyfield’s ear? Were you just hungry? Tyson was turning round. He was walking back to his minders. If I didn’t ask him the question now, I realised, the moment would go. And I didn’t want that to happen. I was obsessed with not letting that happen. As I strode crossed the floor towards him, I felt like a young suitor, about to propose a dance to a very unlikely maiden.
He looked up.
“Mike,” I said. I smiled.
He stuck his hand out. He was utterly cool to meet.
“I’m Andrew,” I said.
“Hey Andrew,” said Mike Tyson.
I realised I should ask him a question. But what? Hey Mike… so what’s it all about? That’s too big, I realised! He’s a boxer. I shouldn’t come at him by the yoghurts, asking for the meaning of life. But the thing is he did seem very wise, and sweet.
“So Mike,” I said, “what’s the key to getting through a day like this?” [Wow! Great question!}
“Well,” said Tyson. “It’s all about God.”
I thought: Wow… God… How do I banter on this one?
I said: “I thought the key was… smile for the picture, but don’t keep em talking too long.”
“No,” said Iron Mike. “It’s all about God.”
I thought: oh no, I thought I’d wrested this away from the God!
“I mean,” said Mike, suddenly – he seemed very sweet and very open – “I don’t know why they want to take my picture, but they do, and I feel profoundly humble, but I don’t know why…”
“I tell you why,” I said, butting in suddenly. “Everyone here is here because they’ve excited peoples’ imagination for a bit, and… man! That spate, when you were 20, and other boxers were coming in with their theme tunes and their dressing gowns, and you just came in in your black shorts, and you just beat the shit out of them! It wasn’t just the skill. It wasn’t just the sheer savagery of it. It was the belief!”
At this, he looked a bit taken aback. He actually looked like he was about to cry. “Thank you Andrew,” said Tyson, and he started to squeeze my right shoulder. He was being affectionate. He was also sizing up what sort of punch, I could throw… Suddenly Mike Tyson was giving me a hug! I couldn’t believe it. I was hugging Mike Tyson, and clapping my hands on those shoulders that had wreaked such havoc. And then I pulled out of the hug. I actually pushed Tyson away, as if it were a little clinch. I thought that was right.
I walked off, glowing with the encounter. I couldn’t believe it. I’d just approached Tyson, and I’d asked him a question. But what had Tyson actually said?
What did Tyson actually say? And what should I have asked him?