A Day with James Toback
Iron Mike: Toback talks Tyson
The Fabulous Picture Show
The most ferocious boxer to ever step inside the ring, Mike Tyson was at age 20 the youngest heavyweight champion in history. But within a few short years, the baddest man on the planet was himself on the ropes, the victim of his own rage and fear. Told exclusively through the compelling words and commentary of Iron Mike himself, TYSON is a powerfully frank and provocative look at one of the most controversial and misunderstood sports figures of all time.
In his younger days, the former heavyweight champ liked to say, "No one really knows Mike Tyson." Director James Toback, who befriended him while making 1999’s Black and White, allows Tyson to speak for himself as he illustrates his words through archival footage and fight clips, culminating in a subjective portrait that begins in empathy before ending somewhere more enigmatic. Neglected as a child, the Brooklyn-born youth took solace in his pigeons--much like Marlon Brando's boxer in On the Waterfront--before turning to stealing and brawling in his teens until legendary trainer Cus D'Amato spotted his talent and helped him to develop the discipline and self-confidence he lacked. Tyson fought many of his most famous bouts after D'Amatos death, but never quite recovered from the loss. Toback tracks the fighter’s rise in the 1980s, followed by his fall in the '90s and ‘00s: the turbulent marriage to actress Robin Givens, the infamous ear-biting incident, and the notorious rape conviction (about which he maintains his innocence). The filmmaker captures his now-retired subject in a reflective mood, and Tyson comes across as considerably more humble and eloquent than his reputation suggests--he describes boxing impresario Don King as "wretched, reptilian, and slimy" and has a special fondness for the word "skullduggery"--but continues to battle loneliness and feelings of abandonment, even fighting back a few tears at times. Tyson may disappoint those looking for the trash-talking pugilist of old, but Toback proves there's more to Iron Mike than meets the eye. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Stills from Tyson (Click for larger image)
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