from the ear of Van Gogh (the painter, not the group), there has been no other as famous as that of Evander Holyfield. This Tuesday marks the 25th anniversary of the iconic fight in which Mike Tyson he bit off a piece of cartilage.
“I was furious, I was an undisciplined soldier and I lost my composure. And I bit his ear,” the author of the morsel explained about that episode in his stark biography, ‘The Whole Truth’. Troubled neighbourhood, unknown father, alcoholic mother, dropped out of school to start committing crimes… His life seemed to be one of those condemned to the ghetto sinkhole until, at the age of 13, he was sent to a reform school as a thief where a former professional boxer saw his potential right away and led him to meet Cus d’Amato. “This is the world heavyweight champion,” were his first words after seeing the one who would be his trainer, his mentor, the father he never had.
A prediction that was fulfilled making him the youngest heavyweight champion and the most charismatic boxer since the retirement of Muhammad Ali. Evander Holyfield, despite not having that aura, he had also forged a solid professional career. After passing through the light heavyweight and cruiserweight categories, he made the jump to heavyweight with the aim of dethroning Tyson.
Both knew each other as far back as 1984 in the US qualifiers for the Los Angeles-84 Games. It did not turn out as either of them expected, because Mike did not qualify for the Olympics and Evander had to settle for bronze in light heavyweight after losing in the semifinals against New Zealander Kevin Barry.
After following their careers sideways, Holyfield and Tyson first agreed to meet face-to-face in a ring in 1990 in a title match but, against all odds, Mike fell against Buster Douglas. Once Evander took the belt, the long-awaited duel was to arrive at the end of 1991, but was postponed again, after Tyson was arrested for rape. In 1996, a year after they were released from jail, they finally crossed fists in Las Vegas. The referee declared Holyfield the winner after stopping the fight in the eleventh round, and Evander agreed to a rematch the following year. Neither he nor anyone else could imagine what would happen on June 28, 1997.
“It was the drugs, I thought I was God”
It barely lasted three rounds. He was fed up with the headbutts that his rival gave him when they hooked up, ‘Iron Mike’ decided to bite him viciously until he ripped out the inner cartilage. “It was the drugs. I was just thinking about the drugs. I thought I was God, I felt like God, but what’s done is done. I wasn’t thinking about boxing when I bit him. I didn’t care about boxing. It’s wrong what I did Very bad. I went crazy & rdquor ;, he explained in an interview in ‘The Guardian’.
Over time the literal and metaphorical wounds have healed. In 2014 they even made an ad joking about it and Tyson has marketed the ‘Tyson Bites‘, cannabis gummies in the shape of a bitten ear. In fact, in recent years Tyson has created a lucrative cannabis business. After being one of the reasons that led to his ruin (in 2003 he declared bankruptcy after winning 300 million dollars) drugs have now become the source of his new fortune. According to himself, Tyson Holistic (dedicated to the marijuana business) earns a million dollars a month. Last month he was the big star of the Hippie Hill festival, where he smoked with 65,000 marijuana fans.
Fight with a youtuber or on a plane
But he is reluctant to stop appearing on boxing posters. A year and a half ago, at 54 and 15 after his retirement, he returned to boxing in a worthy fight against Roy Jones Jr.. He had wanted his return to be against Holyfield, to remember that iconic fight, but Evander declined and preferred to face each other last September, at the age of 58, instead of Victor Belfortwhich knocked him down in the first round.
‘Iron Mike’, who will turn 56 this Thursday, could return to the ring this year to face Jake Paul, a 25-year-old YouTuber. “What Jake does for boxing is sensational, he has 70 million followers, there are world champions who don’t have as many people following them,” Tyson said on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’
In recent years Mike has exploited his facet of ‘showman’, both on television and in the movies, from the famous cameo in ‘The Hangover’ to ‘Undisputed truth’, the film adaptation and monologue format that he made of his autobiography .
In recent times, the internet has been filled with memes with their lapidary phrases, such as “everyone has a plan until the first hell drops” or “social networks made you feel too comfortable disrespecting people and without receiving punches in the face for it.” A theory that he put into practice last month on a plane with a passenger who did not stop bothering him while another recorded it.