Tyson has eye on the Hall

MURRAY GREIG -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

In anticipation of Mike Tyson's eligibility for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2010, the reinvention of the former "baddest man on the planet" has begun in earnest.

A preview of sorts was provided last weekend when prolonged standing ovations from critics and audiences alike greeted the premiere of the documentary biopic Tyson at the famed Cannes Film Festival.

According to reports in the French media, following the red-carpet screening Tyson and director James Toback were greeted by a four-minute "outpouring of affection" before they were able to address the throng.

"I've never experienced anything like this in my whole career," Tyson told French reporters.

"It's kind of intimidating. I had no idea this thing was going to ever make it to such a grand scale. I feel totally overwhelmed. I've lived a wild and strange life. I've used drugs and had physical altercations with dangerous people. It's just a miracle I'm here. Jim (Toback), he just elicited all this stuff out of me. I don't know how he did it."

The film, scheduled for worldwide release this fall, intercuts old TV interviews with clips from Tyson's biggest fights in an effort to portray the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history as what Toback calls "a complex, iconic and noble human being."

Told entirely from Tyson's point of view, the filmserves up graphic details alternately described as "shocking" and "moving" by Cannes critics.

As for those who think Tyson should be barred from the IBHOF because of his conviction and incarceration for rape, his numerous drug charges or even the fact he reportedly still owes the U.S. government more than $20 million in back taxes, I can offer only three words: Get over it.

Jake LaMotta, Sonny Liston and Don King are just a few of the previous inductees who have had "issues" with the law. Ditto for Muhammad Ali, whose anti-Vietnam stance was once branded "an evil threat to the American way of life" by a U.S. Congressional Committee.

I've been a voting member for the IBHOF for the past several years, and can truthfully say I'll have no qualms about putting a check mark beside Tyson's name on the ballot.

Whatever he was guilty of outside the ring has no bearing on his legacy as the most feared heavyweight of his generation.

His record between the ropes speaks for itself.

BYRD GROUNDED

Former IBF heavyweight champ Chris Byrd slipped into unconsciousness and had to be hospitalized minutes after his ninth-round KO loss to unheralded light heavyweight Shaun George (16-2-2) on May 16.

Byrd was unresponsive after a combination of valium and morphine was administered in his dressing room to relieve pain from a shoulder dislocation sustained when George dropped him in the opening round.

Gotta figure this is the end of the road for the 37-year-old Byrd, who was making his debut at light-heavy. After winning 41 of 42, he's been KO'd in three of his last four.


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