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Vennskapet mellom Tupac og Mike Tyson

I dag kl. 1215 blir det bokkafé om 2Pac og hiphopforfatterskapet mitt på Blindern. Her er en aldri så liten bonus: Mitt intervju med filmskaper Reggie Rock Bythewood om dokumentarfilmen One Night in Vegas – som handler om Tupac Shakurs siste timer i Las Vegas og vennskapet med bokseren Mike Tyson.

ØH: How did Tupac Shakur and Mike Tyson become friends, and what do you think they saw in each other?

RRB: Mike and Pac met at a night club in Hollywood, California called, The Palladium. This is when ‘Pac was an up and coming artist. Mike heard security tell Tupac he couldn’t get in because he was not dressed appropriately. So Mike walked over asked security to cut the kid some slack. Then as the security guys relented to Mike’s wishes, Pac turned to several of his friends and waved them in as well.

Eventually, Tupac made his way to the stage, grabbed the microphone and started rocking the place. Mike had never seen someone so fearless before. This fearlessness is one of the things they had in common. As they became friends, Mike became a sort of big brother to Tupac.

ØH: Why did Tyson use 2Pac’s music when he entered the ring?

RRB: Joe Louis was great friends with Frank Sinatra. Muhammad Ali once clowned around in the ring with the Beatles. However, Tyson was a different kind of champion. In many ways, he was the embodiment of hip-hop.

Pac’s music pumped up Mike and hip-hop spoke to Mike in a real way. I think Tupac’s music spoke to Mike in a real way.

Before the Seldon fight, Mike kept calling Tupac to ask when the song was going to be done. As it turns out, the last recording session of Tupac’s life was the session he did for «Let’s Get Ready To Rumble»,  the song Mike used to enter the ring to for the Tyson-Seldon fight. Neither Tupac or Mike had any idea that would be the last time Tupac was in a recording studio.

ØH: After the match between Tyson and Bruce Seldon in Las Vegas, Suge Knight and 2Pac wanted to congratulate Tyson, but left because Tyson was taking too long. Do you know what delayed Tyson, and if he ever thought about what could have been different if 2Pac waited?

RRB: The way Mike recalls it, before Tupac came to Vegas, Mike asked Tupac if he was sure he wanted to come. Mike told him there was going to be a big crowd and it was going to be crazy. Tupac told Mike he was going to come to Vegas and represent. In the documentary, Mike says he hugged Suge and Pac after the fight. They congratulated him then he agreed to meet up with them at club 662.

ØH: What kind of fame had these two celebrities at the time of the match? 2Pac had just done the song «2 of Americaz Most Wanted» with rapper Snoop Dogg, but the song could just as well have been about himself and Tyson?

RRB: As Michael Eric Dyson says in the documentary, «Mike Tyson was like Tupac in boxer shorts and Tupac was like Mike Tyson with a microphone». Mickey Rourke was friends with Tupac and Tyson. He says in the documentary, «both men worked hard to get where they got. It was not just handed to them».

There is no doubt that Mike Tyson was the biggest name in boxing the night of the Tyson-Seldon fight. Tupac was clearly one of the biggest names in hip- hop. On September 7, 1996, Tupac planned to celebrate his friend’s victory. However, there was more bloodshed outside of the ring than inside of the ring.

ØH: Author Michael Eric Dyson writes that Mike Tyson was «the king of troubled black youth» before 2Pac ascended to this throne. Do you agree?

RRB: Mike Tyson represented that hard core, dangerous black youth that even much of Black America did not want to associate with. However, that sense of danger Mike personified in the ring is what attracted all of us to him. White or black, we all watched Tyson. Even people who didn’t like him could not take their eyes off of him. He was a rock star in the ring. Better yet, he was a hip-hop star.

ØH: In his book Hip Hop America, Nelson George write about Mike Tyson, especially about the opposition he met from people who saw him as a mirror image of the nation’s worst nightmare (Bigger Thomas and Willie Horton), because Tyson didn’t have Ray Leonard’s charisma or Evander Holyfield’s piety. Why do you think that both Tyson and 2Pac met so much resistance at the height of their careers?

RRB: Tyson was highly intelligent. In the documentary, poet and author Dr. Maya Angelou discusses her visit to Tyson when he was incarcerated in Indiana. She was blown away by his intellect as they discussed James Baldwin and Tolstoy. Tyson did not have the charm of Ray Leonard but make no mistake about it, he had charisma. His glare was charismatic. His seemingly controlled anger was charismatic. What America feared about Tyson is also what they loved.

Tupac made music that made grown men cry. He made music that told women to keep their heads up. He also made music that provoked anger. Mike Tyson not only carved out a name for himself, he carved out his own identity. At age twenty, he was the undisputed Heavy Weight Champion of the World.

On September 7th, 1996, they were human beings with flaws and weaknesses, yet Mike Tyson and Tupac Shakur were on top of the world. Then it all ended. Days later, Tupac was dead. And months later, Tyson was no longer the champ.

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