Mike Tyson

David Bruce dave_bruce at SPAMryelands.co.uk
Mon Jan 31 10:23:17 MST 2000

At 30/01/00, Jim Monaghan wrote:

>Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist. In Britain a debate rages on his
>admission to fight in a boxing match. On one side are those such as Darcus
>Howe and Living Marxism who regard the Feminist  and others outrage as
>basically racist and in Howe’s case regards Tyson as a fit hero for Black

As so often, there is more on the ground than appears on the map in this case.

1.      British immigration law is clear. Non-British nationals ('aliens'
in the repulsive jargon of the people that police these things) are not
allowed into Britain if they have a criminal record although the Home
Secretary can over-rule this in 'exceptional' circumstances.

Tyson was booked to fight an unknown sacrificial no-hoper in a warm-up for
the real money-maker, a possible match with the now undisputed World H/W
Champion, British-born Lennox Lewis. The event was promoted by the dubious
Frank Warren and sponsored by Murdoch's Sky Television. Tyson's immigration
formalities were not started until the pre-fight publicity machine was up
and running, a move seen as an attempt by Warren to coerce the Home Secretary.

Predictably, Straw needed little coercion and allowed Tyson in without a
murmur. Various rape-victim support groups challenged this in the courts,
asking, not unreasonably in my view, what kind of message his decision gave
out. The judge dismissed their action as 'impractical' due to the large
sums of money at stake.

This happened in the same week as Straw decided to send Pinochet home .
(The issue here is not whether you, as Marxists, support the Pinochet
extradition but of how Straw enforces 'law and order' for the ordinary
citizen but rewrites it when it suits him.)

BTW, one of the doctors who examined Pinochet is now reported as saying
that the medical panel did *not* decide that Pinochet was unfit to be tried
- they reported that they could not take a decision. It seems that Straw
has lied and this is presumably why he will not release their report.

There is also Straw's continued campaign for the Asylum Bill, possibly the
most reactionary and racist piece of immigration legislation yet proposed
in Britain. Amongst other measures, the measure will publicly mark
applicants granted temporary political asylum as second-class by denying
them money, issuing them instead with food vouchers. The rest will simply
be excluded.

In summary, the far-right law-and-order freak Straw is driven not by the
colour of Tyson's skin but by that of Murdoch's money and the fact that his
press, in general, supports the Blair government. Any view of Straw's
action as non- or anti-racist is off the wall.

2.      Once in the UK, Tyson's entourage went on a publicity binge, with
the fighter praising the warmth and generosity of the British people and
announcing his intention of living here, etc etc. He even tried to visit
Brixton Prison to establish 'street cred'. Brixton, a famous multi-ethnic
but largely Afro-Carribean neighbourhood in south London, has had a number
of distinguished visitors in recent years, including Nelson Mandela and
Mohammed Ali.

Tyson was jumping on a bandwagon. There was also a well publicised trip to
a Bond Street jewellers where he spent £500,000 (US$800k) on a diamond
bracelet. Every public appearance he made - and for an athlete in intensive
training, he seemed to make several - was accompanied by a group of teen
and pre-teen girls sporting banners in the manner of the entourage for a
pop 'boy band'. Brit teeny-boppers are not usually regarded as fight fans.

Here, in my opinion, there was an undoubted racist element - the 'frisson'
of the sexually-dangerous and ominously powerful black man, the oldest and
sickest stereotype of them all. The cover-story in the British
fight-magazine 'Boxing Monthly' was 'Lock up your Daughters'. The blame,
surely, lies not with the very young women involved but with the publicity
machine that engineered this crap and with the press that made it work.

3.      The publicity parade was greeted not only by women's groups but by
both ordinary and prominent Afro-Carribeans as offensive, many arguing,
again quite reasonably in my view, that they have better role models in
their own families.

The irony is that Tyson's possible future opponent, Lennox Lewis, *is* an
unusual figure in the corrupt world of pro boxing. Apart from his athletic
skills and his dignified conduct, especially after his defeat by Evander
Hollyfield (the circumstances of the controversial decision were, and AFAIK
still are, being investigated by the NY State police), he has quietly spent
much of his considerable fortune in establishing the Lennox Lewis College
in east London. To quote a recent press release,

"Lennox Lewis College offers a unique service for young people aged 14 to
20 who are disaffected by mainstream education and who either already are
or are prone to be caught up in the criminal justice system.

"Until now, the College has relied heavily on the personal contributions of
boxer Lennox Lewis and his manager Panos Eliades. The new business plan
will be developed for the college by business organisation Business Links
(London City Partners). Its aim is to reduce the college’s dependency on
these substantial private contributions, which both Mr Lewis and Eliades
stated last year that they are unable to continue indefinitely."

It doesn't, of course, make Lewis a socialist - but it does make him a
marked contrast to Mike Tyson - and an even more marked contrast to the
unscrupulous businessmen who are happy both to exploit Tyson for
considerable profit, in spite of his all-too-apparent emotional
difficulties, and to trample over the law and the anxieties of ordinary
people on the way.

Of course, a level-headed, serious and philanthropically-minded world-class
athlete with a good eye for business does not fit the stereotype that the
press and the pro-sports establishment needs to keep their circus on the road.

In a word, Jim, I agree with you,



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