Wednesday, December 18, 2013

the last book I ever read (Mike Tyson's Undisputed Truth, excerpt three)

from Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson with Larry Sloman:

In May and June of 1981, I went after my first championship—the Junior Olympics. I probably had about ten fights at that point. First you had to win your local tourney, then your region, and they you competed in Colorado for the national title.

I won all my regionals, so Teddy and I flew to Colorado and Cus took a train because he had a fear of flying. When I entered the dressing room, I remembered how all my heroes had behaved. The other kids would come up to me and put out their hand to shake, and I would just sneer and turn my back on them. I was playing a role. Someone would be talking and I’d just stare at him. Cus was all about manipulating your opponent by causing chaos and confusion, but staying cool under it all. I caused such chaos that a few of the other fighters took one look at me and lost their bouts so they wouldn’t have to fight me later on. I won all of my fights by knockouts in the first round. I won the gold by knocking out Joe Cortez in eight seconds, a record that I believe stands to this day. I was on my way.

I became a local hero after I won that gold medal. Cus loved the attention I was getting. He loved the spotlights. But I kept thinking how crazy all this was. I was barely fifteen years old and half of my friends back in Brownsville were dead, gone, wiped out. I didn’t have many friends in Catskill. I wasn’t interested in school. Cus and I had already established what we wanted to accomplish, so school seemed to be a distraction from that goal. I didn’t care about what they were teaching me, but I did have an urge to learn. So Cus would encourage me and I read some of the books from his library. I read books by Oscar Wilde, Charles Darwin, Machiavelli, Tolstoy, Dumas, and Adam Smith. I read a book about Alexander the Great. I loved history. By reading history, I learned about human nature. I learned the hearts of men.

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