Contend Earnestly: Facing Tyson

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Facing Tyson

I have to be honest, I picked up this book for one reason: Ted Kluck told me to. Okay, well that was the start, then I learned of the 5 books that Kluck has written that this was his favorite and I, like every other kid in the 80s, loved to watch the craziness that was named Mike Tyson. I was pretty interested in reading this book as it was a book about an icon of my growing up and it was done by a Christian author. And when I say Christian author, I mean an actual Christian, not one looking for a niche market.

Mike Tyson, for me growing up, was this almost unreal demi god, like a Zeus or something, because I was a poor white kid in Oklahoma. Putting it simple, I was a poor PK and we could barely afford bread, much less $50 for pay per view. So, I would try and tag along anytime I could to watch the craziness of Tyson and the thirty or so seconds that he boxed before he nearly killed the poor schmuck that was in the ring with him.

I am honestly not a huge boxing fan, but was a huge Tyson fan. Well, as huge as I could be without taking my eyes off of the Boz and the Sooners. Needless to say, I was really excited to read about these opponents of Tyson and the stories they would tell about the man that beat their face in.

The book is old school. Ted Kluck does something that is just not seen these days. He flew and drove around the nation to try, as much as possible, to meet these boxers where they currently live and work. He really tried to get into their lives as they are now lived. So much so, that at times Kluck's wife and kid came along for the ride.

But, the best story by far is when he was riding with a crazy Pinklon Thomas. Thomas' wife was in the front seat and Kluck and Pinklon's daughters in the back seat. There is an hilarious exchange as Kluck spouts off some hip hop lyrics, as the radio is blaring, while arguments are exchanged with Thomas and his daughters all while Thomas speeds through traffic and yelling at other drivers. Whatever Kluck could do for an interview, I guess. Because of this, it was hilarious and made the book a whole lot better because of his hands on approach to interviewing these boxers.

The book is set up with 15 interviews of boxers that faced Tyson. The interviews were for the purpose of seeing what these guys were up to now and then any information that they would like to share about Tyson and their fight. It didn't seem like Kluck had anything in particular he wanted from the fighter about Tyson, just any information that they would like to share. I am guessing that this loose approach (which wasn't bad) was partly because it was hard getting retired boxers to give out their stories about Tyson for free. Most still looking to make cash, not off of their skills, but through the man that gave them their name...Tyson. I can't imagine the frustration that Kluck ran against. He does share some of it in his book with no-shows, runarounds and just plain craziness from some of these boxers. This book will seriously make you laugh out loud with what these boxers do. aka Mitch "the blood" Green

Overall, the interviews were very well done and very real. Kluck truly let these guys just talk about what they wanted to. I truly liked the fact that if the guys wanted to talk about Christ, he let them. Marvis Frazier was one of these guys. He continued to go on and on about his relationship with Christ and the cause of the gospel. Most authors would have left this part out of the book, but Kluck allowed Frazier to speak, as he did with the rest of his interviewees.

I think that Kluck hits the heart of what he was trying to find with this book: Stories from those who fought Tyson and what they thought of the man and the boxer. Some still talked smack, but most were honest about Tyson's skills and, believe it or not, the goodness and thoughtfulness of Tyson. Overall, if you are a fan of Tyson, or boxing in general, pick up the book. I think you will enjoy the realness of the sport behind the cameras, plus you can laugh as you picture Kluck flying around the nation hoping to catch up to guys who wouldn't be on time to their own mom's funeral. Highly Recommended.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for reviewing my first and favorite book...appreciate the kind words man. And glad to see it's resulted in an avalanche of comments for you:) If there's one thing reformed people love more than debating theological minutia, it's pro boxing!

ps - I love The Boz too...if you want to read a so-bad-it's-good sports the book he co-wrote with Rick Reilly.

Seth McBee said...

that's actually how most book review posts go...hardly any comments.

The other problem with actually reading your book, that I was a little nervous about was, "What if this book sucks?"

Because I would have had to tell you the truth. Always hard when reading a book from someone you "know".

So, after the first 50 pages, I already knew that I was going to enjoy the book.

Thanks for the recommendation on the Boz...not sure if I want my hero to be brought even further down from his perch. I already have to defend him enuogh. :)

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