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Friday, 31 May, 2002, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Tyson's turbulent times
Mike Tyson
Tyson before becoming world champion in 1986

In 20 years time, when a review is written of Mike Tyson's career, it is certain that whoever types it will wonder what could have been.

The writer will try to emphasise that when he was in his prime, Tyson was an untouchable fighting machine, comparable to any of the great fighters in any era.

That despite his defeats to Evander Holyfield and James 'Buster' Douglas, this was a man who, at his best, was superior to all the heavyweights of his era and revolutionised boxing in the 1980s.

It will also be that writer's unfortunate duty to report how Tyson could never adjust his personality to the demands of being one of the world's most famous sportsmen.

Mike Tyson
Winning the title from Trevor Berbick
And also how his frequent battles with the law took away his best years in the ring and tarnished the image of a sport which has never had much in common with Mary Poppins.

That biography is still a dream - Mike Tyson will be 36 this year and no one, perhaps even him, knows what lies ahead in his bizarre, captivating life.

The Tyson story is a frequently recited one, but the bare bones are as follows.

A juvenile delinquent, he was befriended by trainer/manager Cus D'Amato, who moulded a freakishly sized 12-year-old into a heavyweight contender.

A heavyweight champion by the age of 20, Tyson's fatherlike figure D'Amato had already passed away.

By the time he was 22, Tyson's other longtime associates had either died or been jettisoned as Don King invaded the champion's life.

But, without trainer Kevin Rooney - he was sacked - in his corner, who knew the D'Amato formula so well, Tyson began to struggle, culminating in his 1990 loss to Douglas in Tokyo.

Mike Tyson and Mike Spinks
Knocking out Michael Spinks in quick time
King realised that Tyson needed to get active again, so he could find his form and stay out of trouble.

But Tyson no longer resembled the fighting machine of the late 80s and constant allegations of sexual misconduct did little for his mental state.

When Desiree Washington accused the now former champion of rape in 1991, the threat was not taken that seriously, based on Tyson's continuing relationship with trouble.

But by February 1992, Tyson was in court and listening to a guilty verdict that ended phase one of his boxing career.

Released in 1995, having served three years of a 10-year sentence, the former champion returned to the ring for a tune-up with clubfighter Peter McNeeley - Tyson needed less than a round to win his first fight in four years.

Inevitably, it seemed, he won a share of a world title with a crushing rematch win over Frank Bruno, but another man from the past was ready to put a stop to the Tyson machine.

Evander Holyfield, who signed to fight Tyson twice, beat his American rival in 1996 and 1997, initially stripping the New Yorker of his aura of invincibility and then exposing the monster that had always lurked inside.

Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno
Battling British challenger Frank Bruno
Tyson had emerged with some dignity after losing to Holyfield the first time, admitting he had been beaten by the better man.

But the "bite", as it became known, brought widespread condemnation, from those within boxing and the general public.

In the five years that have since passed, Tyson has done little to suggest that he has learnt from his transgressions.

In the pre-fight build up to the Lewis contest, he bit his opponent once more - this time the thigh.

But to Tyson's credit, after his defeat to Lewis he saluted the Briton and showed that behind the rough visage, there is a hint of humility.

The contest itself revealed that Tyson was a shadow of his former self, but the American still had enough stamina to take a number of heavy blows.

And it is that reslience and the exciting punching power of old that Tyson is likely to be remembered by.

A look at the Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson fight

Lewis stuns Tyson

Our man in Memphis

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