Put him up there with Ali; Tyson deserves that position. Just as Ali embodied the turmoil and upheaval of his generation, so, too, Tyson embodies the excess and self-absorption of his.
And as with Ali, if you came of age along with Tyson, he will always be the greatest.
Somebody should write a book some day about heavyweight champs and the societies in which they lived. The ones who we remember are the ones who connect with the social mores of their time. Tyson did that as well as anyone ever has.
Jack Dempsey probably wasn’t as great as his reputation makes him out to be. He didn’t fight often, going three years between his last successful title defense and his loss in the famous “long count” bout to Gene Tunney. But he personified the Roaring Twenties, a dashing a charismatic figure who made people believe that when they saw him, they saw the best there ever was.
Rocky Marciano was the perfect champion for the 50s, when a middle America made up of large numbers of the sons of immigrants, related to his work ethic and his own ethnic connections to the Old World.
That world ended during the second half of the Sixties, when the baby boomers challenged everything about their parents’ world. Who better to connect with them than the brash and iconoclastic Ali, who rejected his birth name of Cassius Clay and his religion to become a Muslim, who refused to be drafted, who lived large and celebrated his individuality?
Tyson won the title 20 years ago. At the time, he was the misguided waif from the tough streets of Bed-Stuy who was taken in and nurtured by the crusty old Cus D’Amato, feel-good story with thunder in his fists, an awesome force of nature who rolled over everything in his path.
The waif didn’t last long. D’Amato turned out to be as permissive and as forgiving as other parents, and the kid ran wild. He drank and chased women — sometimes violently. He tore up towns. And he hammered people senseless. At the height of his powers, when he beat Michael Spinks in Atlantic City, he carried into a ring with him a presence that was wet-your-pants frightening.
Rafa Nadal made short work of his great rival Roger Federer to win the Italian Open, while Serena Williams took down Victoria Azarenka in the women's final.
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
No longer ‘Iron Mike’
Click to see pictures from Mike Tyson’s heavyweight career.
The Week in Sports Pictures
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
When athletes and celebs get together
A look at the many links between sports and Hollywood stars.