To be a champion is one thing. To be an icon is something totally different. Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson just happen to be both.
As it stands, yours truly was never granted the opportunity to see Tyson nor Ali in their primes. The Ali I know is a sharp contrast from the charismatic, loud-mouth heavyweight responsible for a handful of sports most legendary moments in the 20th century. In fact, I’ve never seen Ali talk aside from footage from yesteryear. Tyson’s reign of terror, on the other hand, spanned across the ’80s and by the time the Buster Douglas knockout happened, I had only been four years old for nine days.
Which, in a sense, it made learning about both throughout the years such an amazing journey from the ups, the downs, the battles with the media, the refusals to go to war, the prison stints, Don King and Tupac. Not many athletes can transcend sports to become worldwide global icons, let alone sit in the same room with one another.
P.S. – Does ESPN still do those “Make A Wish” stories? If so, I want to meet these two. We don’t have to go anywhere. I just want to sit in the same room with them and soak up game and life lessons. And yes, I know, Ali wouldn’t be able to offer anything from a vocal standpoint. But it’s freakin’ Muhammad Ali. Just to say I was in the same room with The Greatest Of All Time would be enough for six lifetimes.