Film | Sports

May 31, 2009

Tyson Season

Documentary director James Toback tells Gelf that his subject—and friend—isn't the monster he was previously made out to be.

David Downs

Kid Dynamite is blowing up again. The new, widely-lauded documentary Tyson locks viewers across the country into solitary confinement with the heavyweight champ—notorious for his ferocity inside the ring and out. The summer's hottest video games also feature him. And this week, the tragic arc of the fighter's life was only deepened by the accidental death of his four-year-old daughter.

Tyson director, writer, and producer James Toback has been a friend of the fighter since he met him in 1985. As he detailed at April's San Francisco International Film Festival
interview and in a follow-up interview with Gelf Magazine, Toback was
riding high back then, hanging with buddy Warren Beatty, for whom he wrote Bugsy. Toback was also partying with football and film star Jim Brown, whom Toback lived with while writing an Esquire feature on the American icon that later became the book Jim. The Harvard grad has had some hits and misses since then, and is now getting the most positive reviews of his career for an extremely engrossing independent film that turns video game caricature Iron Mike into a three dimensional human being. In the following interview excerpts, Toback talks of the Tyson rape conviction, the head butting of Holyfield, and the acute aversion to humiliation that fueled Tyson's warrior spirit.

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Article by David Downs

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