I’ll let you behind the curtain of having the best job in the world. Publishers are awesome, and very generous. So when a book comes along that excites and surprises a publisher, so much so that we only get to look at a quick teaser before release instead of the entire book, we tend to take notice.
Mike Tyson’s autobiography Undisputed Truth is one of those books.
As the sports nerd in the office I came in one day to find a sampler of Undisputed Truth on my desk. I flicked through it and expected a pretty watered down version of events, a fallen star trying to dig himself out of trouble with a ghostwriter and PR manager at hand.
What I got blew my socks off. This is Mike Tyson, leaving his support staff at the door. A naive street kid who had it all and then threw it all away. He lays it all down, every thought, every feeling, every emotion. At 23 he was hailed as possibly the greatest fighter to ever live, married to a movie star, earning millions of dollars for fights that rarely went past the first round. By 24 he was broke, in jail and a worldwide disgrace. He writes of his sentencing that “it took me a long time to realise that that little white woman judge who sent me to prison just might have saved my life.”
It’s difficult to decide whether this is a story of ‘how did it all go wrong’ so much as ‘how did it all go right’, if only in his early days. He was raised as a gang member, a fat kid with a lisp who tried to stay quiet and not get hurt. How did he become a national celebrity, and what happened when he discovered the only thing that knocked him off his perch was himself?
Undisputed Truth isn’t so much a story about Tyson as a story of a world of scatter gun celebrity worship. A study in what happens when the music stops but the camera keeps rolling.
A book like this doesn’t come around very often. Don’t miss out.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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