By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
When Mike Tyson announced last week that he was willing to part with the unabridged, uncensored story of his life for, say, three or four million bucks, you can bet the Pulitzer Prize committee and the people who hand out the Nobels sat up and took notice. Listen. Solzhenitsyn may be able to go the distance wordwise, but his left hook is a little weak. Don DeLillo turns a pretty nice phrase, but he's not worth a damn when it comes to wife-beating. David Halberstam has a hefty new tome out about the origins of the civil-rights movement, but if you're looking for a guy to bite the fat off a full-bodied paragraph, Dave's probably not your man.
As soon as Mike can find a publisher for his eagerly anticipated autobiography, the literary world had better look out. If, for instance, the man at the New York Times Book Review has the gall to point out a dangling participle or two in Tyson's work, he just might find himself digging sentence fragments out of his brain stem. If Oprah Winfrey doesn't recommend Mike's opus on her talk show, the big guy might drag her up to his hotel room and bop her with the TV set.
Not since Ernest Hemingway turned literary muscle-flexing into a high art has a writer struck such awe into the arts establishment. The way we hear it, Tyson secrets himself away nine hours a day in a dim library carrel, where he rereads Plutarch's Lives, Boswell and the memoirs of Winston Churchill. The rest of the time, insiders say, he punches away at a typewriter, fists bared. Think the Buster Douglas fight was a life trial? Just try duking it out with a pageful of angry prepositions.
Is the ex-heavyweight title-holder looking for a book title? How about A Nineties Guy's Guide to Love and Marriage?
Of course, it would help if the budding author could find a publishing house interested in his work. "People hate him," one New York editor said last week. "You're not going to convince anyone to spend $27 for his book."
Hey, Mein Kampf sold a few copies, didn't it?
Meanwhile, as he waits for July in the hope that his boxing license will be reinstated, Tyson has been otherwise expanding his career opportunities. On Sunday night he made his debut, in Boston, with the World Wrestling Federation. He was billed as "special enforcer," and unless we miss our guess, this is the kind of work Iron Mike could grow fond of--if he has a strong stomach. After all, for all but ten minutes of the three-hour "Wrestlemania XIV" program, for which pay-per-view subscribers in almost three countries paid $34.95 apiece, the former heavyweight champion remained backstage (studying adverbs in his dressing room, probably) while his new friends in the pro-wrestling game practiced their art.
In the first of eight "killer matches," the Battle Royale, fifteen tag teams--thirty men--crowded into the ring and fiercely patted each other on the shoulders for six or seven minutes. A team called "The Legion of Doom" was then declared the winner, probably because it had the coolest costumes--spiked plastic armor in a nice shade of mauve. A little later, a substantially constructed blonde woman named Luna, who wore gold tights and a chrome bolt through her tongue, joined battle with a slimmer blonde called Sable, who was clearly the people's choice. If we can believe Sable, she came close to committing murder in there.
In the "Intercontinental Championship" match, a fellow named The Rock crowned another fellow named Shamrock several times with a folding chair, which so infuriated Shamrock that he allegedly broke his opponent's right leg, necessitating the injured gladiator's removal to the nether regions of the Fleet Center on a steel gurney. Still angry, Shamrock then ceremoniously smashed all three referees to the canvas. Alas, he was disqualified. This prompted him to attack The Rock once more, slinging the poor guy off the gurney and into the drum set of a nearby bandstand.
Life in the WWF proved no easier for the New Age Outlaws. After being partially disabled by a pair of vicious "Russian leg sweeps" and banged on the noggin with baking pans, the Outlaws were sent to final doom when their opponents, Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack, scooped them up with a forklift, tossed them into a red garbage dumpster and slammed the lid shut. Not since the Jets upset Baltimore (or the last WWF extravanganza) have you seen anything quite so dramatic.
And make no mistake. The World Wrestling Federation is nothing if not a magnet for top-of-the-line celebrities. Tyson, who has been squeezing by of late on the $130 million he was paid for his last six fights and trying to extract himself from the talons of Don King, earned an undisclosed sum for his brief appearance Sunday night. Originally he was signed for a reported $4 million to wrestle the main event against one "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, aka "the Texas Rattlesnake," a blue-collar hero who prides himself on his ditch-digging skills and invariably asks his legions of fans: "Anybody here gotta cold beer for Steve Austin?"