Who doesn’t love a good Mike Tyson story?
In “One Punch from the Promised Land,” a book due out Tuesday on the rise of brothers Michael and Leon Spinks, there are plenty.
Sporting News has an exclusive early peek at one of the more Tyson-centric chapters, which details the lead-up to his eventual first-round knockout victory in a heavyweight title match with Michael Spinks.
On the day of the fight alone, authors John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro detail scenes of Tyson sobbing into the shirt of a Newark Star-Ledger reporter, then hours later punching through sheetrock in his dressing room.
We’ve pulled out a couple of the more interesting sections below. The first features boxing promoter Rock Newman explaining the unorthodox antagonism used on Tyson in the lead-up to a deal. The second walks through the minutes before the bell, when Spinks was too scared to even leave his dressing room.
Excerpt 1: ‘You’re acting like a b—-‘
“(Spinks’ manager/promoter) Butch (Lewis) called us together and said, ‘We gotta go guerilla,’” recalls Newman. “Going guerilla involved paying somebody in the Tyson camp to give us Tyson’s schedule—whether he was going to a basketball game, whether he was going to a bordello. Wherever [Tyson] was, we always knew. He couldn’t step out of a car, he couldn’t turn around, he couldn’t go to a game, he couldn’t go to a club, he couldn’t go to a party where we didn’t have somebody saying, ‘You know, you a b—-, man, you scared of Michael Spinks.’ [Sometimes] we would send females. More than once Tyson was at a club and a female would ease up to him and say, ‘You’re acting like a b—- not fighting Michael.’ He was like, ‘No, you the b—-.’ It was down and dirty, man. I’d be getting calls [from the mole] at two, three o’clock in the morning. I’m telling you, it was clandestine s—. [We paid that guy] somewhere around $75,000.”
Excerpt 2: ‘I never saw a fighter … that looked as scared as Michael Spinks’
Emanuel Steward had flown to Atlantic City to see the fight and went to check on Michael (Spinks). “I went into his dressing room; they couldn’t even get him to come out, he was so scared. He was a nervous wreck, really freaking out. Leon wouldn’t have given a damn. Leon was a free spirit. [Michael] didn’t have the personality to come out.”
Not until 11:20 did Michael finally make his way to the ring, snaking through a celebrity-studded audience that included Nor- man Mailer, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Sean Penn, Madonna, and, of course, Donald Trump. The fighter gave a hesitant wave to the crowd, acknowledging his family and friends. He entered the ring in a gleaming white robe as Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald sang “This Is It” through the PA speakers. Sweat glistened on his cheeks and forehead. He had the look of a rabbit that had just spotted a hunter’s rifle.
Boxing writer Royce Feour says, “I never saw a fighter entering the ring, and standing in the ring, that looked as scared as Michael Spinks. Never. And I’ve covered fights since 1965. Never. [Michael] was petrified.”
The full text of the excerpt is available below. For more background or to order the book, head over here.