WASHINGTON -- Mike Tyson's career ended abruptly Saturday night after the sixth round against Ireland 's Kevin McBride. Three men - Black, Asian, and Hispanic - approached him and whispered something in his swollen ear as he sat on the floor. Tyson stayed seated for a few moments, then hesitatingly rose and walked to his corner, nevermore to return.
Looking more like an aging man than the champion who once terrorized the heavyweight division, Tyson complained about being betrayed, threatened, and harassed by everybody, from the print media to communist governments to NAACP to Chinese taxidermists.
In many ways, Tyson's boxing career has been over since the night in Tokyo when he was approached by Chinese government representatives who expressly forbade him to expose their leader's face to other people's punches.
It happened soon after Tyson had Mao Tse Dung's face tattooed on his shoulder. Four masked men with guns and accents mysteriously appeared in his locked hotel suite. The heavyweight champion was ordered to let them examine his shoulder, after which he was given a brochure explaining how properly to maintain and groom a Mao Tse Dung's tattoo, what soap to use, and what side to sleep on. Most of the brochure was unreadable due to bad translation - just like any other user manual that comes with products purchased at a 99c store. As a consolation, Tyson was informed that his stuffed body would look nice in the Beijing museum of Mao Tse Dung 's images gathered from around the world. This might happen sooner than he thought, Tyson was told, if he disobeyed their orders.
People from NAACP also approached him with a similar request. Tyson was told that if he would continue to get Arthur Ashe tattoo punched he would be disavowed and taken off all calendars and Black History Month newsreels, replaced by President Bush's judicial nominee Marcia Cooke.
Some shady characters representing various Central American guerilla groups have also occasionally harassed Tyson with regards to his Che Guevara tattoo, threatening him with machetes or bribing him with bootleg Cuban tobacco products. Those he easily beat off, but such encounters did not boost the champion's morale.
McBride finishes the job others started.
If that were no enough, the children of Alberto Korda, the late Cuban photographer who took the picture of Che Guevara that became an icon of progressive students worldwide, sued Tyson for stiffing them on a license fee to put Che's face on his stomach. They demanded $50,000 in compensation, which is how much the photographer had won previously, in an out-of-court settlement with companies that had used Che's image in an ad for Smirnoff vodka.
And then came the day when "the baddest man on the planet" could take it no more.
"I can't do this no more," Tyson said. "I'm not going to embarrass the sport anymore. I can't live looking over my shoulder and seeing Asian-looking taxidermists in every corner. Or some crazy Cubans with lawyers and machetes. I don't want to be replaced with Marcia Cooke on TV. I'm afraid of dark alleys. I'm afraid I'll wind up in some communist museum in China. I don't think I have the stomach for this anymore. I feel like Rip Van Winkle right now."
It is rumored that a Tyson-looking punching bags are already for sale in some sporting stores in South Florida, where local residents of Cuban origin enjoy punching the hell out of him, especially the stomach part featuring the life-sized portrait of Ernesto Che Guevara, who was known to take a personal interest in the interrogation, torture, and execution of political prisoners in Cuba.
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