Sunday, May 8, 2016

TBG Book Review: Facing Tyson: 15 Fighters 15 Stories

The Boxing Glove Sunday Night Book Review 

By Peter Silkov 

"Facing Tyson: 15 Fighters 15 Stories" Written by Ted Kluck

Once upon a time, not so long ago, (though it may seem like a lifetime ago for some people), ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson was universally accepted as ‘The Baddest Man’ on the planet.  For a relatively short time in the mid to late 1980s, Mike Tyson was the Heavyweight champion of the world, and seemed to be invincible.  His aura of indestructibility, and destruction instilled a fear into many of his opponents not seen since the days of Foreman, Liston, and Louis.  Many of Tyson’s opponents during his peak years were beaten before they entered the ring. Nothing puts fear into a fighter such as knowing that your opponent can separate you from your senses with one punch.  Even after Tyson was sensationally beaten by Buster Douglas and lost his world title, his aura of violent menace lingered.  Right up to the end of his career, when he was fighting from memory. and going through the motions in an effort to recoup some of his squandered fortune. Tyson’s punching power still demanded some respect from everyone who entered the ring against him.

What must it have been like to enter the ring against Mike Tyson? This is the question that Ted A. Kluck asks in "Facing Tyson."  He has tracked down 15 of Tyson former opponents, from various points of his career, and asked them to tell their stories. The result is a fascinating kaleidoscope of characters, who in some aspects could not be more different from each other, yet in other ways, share some common bonds that go way beyond the fact that they all, at one time, had Mike Tyson facing them in the opposite corner.

The stories we hear are much more than simple recollections of each man’s experience at the fists of the ‘Iron’ one.  We get to look into these men’s psyches and find out what it is that drove many of them into a boxing ring in the first place. In some of their stories, their encounter with Tyson proves to be almost incidental, and the least interesting part of their life story.  For others fighters in this book though, their meeting with Tyson has proved to be not just the pinnacle of their boxing career, but the defining moment of their life.

Quite often we find that the greatest struggles for the boxers interviewed in "Facing Tyson" have come outside of the ring, and many times with themselves and their own demons.  Boxing is shown to be a bittersweet element in many of these fighters’ lives. On one hand, it has saved them from self-destruction on the streets, and a life of drugs and crime,  yet it has often inflicted a price of its own, in damage both physical and psychological.

The men included here vary, from the fringe contenders, whom Tyson fought at the beginning of his career, such as, Sam Scaff, Mitch ‘Blood’ Green, Marvis Frazier, and Jose Ribalta, to some of the men he faced during his world title reigns, including, Tyrell Biggs, James ‘Bone Crusher’ Smith, Evander Holyfield, and Pinklon Thomas.  The book ends with the tales of a number of the men who faced Tyson in his declining years, including Lou Savarese, Lennox Lewis, and Kevin McBride.
Perhaps the one glaring omission from this book, is the lack of an interview with Buster Douglas, the first man to really burst Mike Tyson’s iron bubble.  Although this admission is apparent, the author has put together a fascinating, and fast-moving glimpse into a part of boxing history.  It is very thought provoking to read about how these very different men dealt with not only their respective fights with Tyson, but their individual boxing careers as a whole, and also their lives after boxing. Perhaps Kluck’s greatest achievement in these pages is his ability to coax so much more out of each fighter, far beyond their facing Mike Tyson.

While Tyson is not interviewed himself in ’Facing Tyson’ he is of course a constant presence within its pages.  He emerges once more as an enigma, not just to those he has fought but perhaps most poignantly, to himself as well. The book was originally published in 2006 and the copy I have, is the 2009 edition. There are no photographs in the book.

*The book does not contain photographs, the photos on this page are not from the book. 

*Book available at Abe Books and Amazon:

Copyright © 2016 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to

1 comment:

  1. OT: It might be his last fight as Manny Pacquiao was quoted as retiring after his fight with Tim Bradley. Right now he is training for the fight. Want to watch awesome training videos by Manny Pacquiao? Watch the Peoples Champ Manny Pacquiao speed shadowboxing all day on the official MP Youtube Channel now!