Millennials will tell you that the Haunting of Hill House is horrifying or the darkness that consumes your thoughts on a long walk home alone is terrifying, to that individual it may be so, but just for a moment close your eyes and imagine the sheer bone-chilling proposition of standing in a boxing ring surrounded by people baying for blood whilst a prime Mike Tyson made his entrance with the look of pure devastation firmly in his plans for you, I’m guessing its one of the worst nightmares you could possibly have.
You can forget the exorcist, forget Micheal Myers in his hockey mask, in those dominant days Mike Tyson was a fighter that you couldn’t escape from whereas unlike the Hollywood blockbuster of the time which always had its hero overcoming adversity, in this one, the villain virtually won every time.
In the 80’s the ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ demanded the attention of the boxing world, his name whispered in hushed tones for good reason, when this man stepped through the ropes it became a victory to even make it through some rounds even more still if managing to make it to the final bell, an achievement not witnessed much.
Tyson had a lot of pent up aggression from a bullied youth, starting out with a quiet persona as a child was taken over by an alter-ego when he reached his man years as a rage burned so bright that it became an inferno both inside and outside a boxing ring.
Outside influences were his eventual downfall but Inside a boxing ring, Cus D’Amato had taken the personality of Victor Frankenstein in creating a monster. To this day Tyson is still considered one of the most intimidating fighters in history, touching on the aspect of the reasoning behind this, he said:
“Most guys were just pretty much intimidated. They lost the fight before they even got hit. I knew the art of skullduggery. I knew how to beat these guys psychologically before I even got in the ring with them.
I walk around the ring, but I never take my eyes off my opponent. I keep my eyes on him, even if he’s ready and pumped and he can’t wait to get his hands on me as well. I keep my eyes on him. I keep my eyes on him. I keep my eyes on him.
Then once I see a chink in his armour. BOOM!
And one of his eyes may move and then I know I have him. Then when he comes to the centre of the ring, he still looks at me with his piercing look as if he’s not afraid.
But he already made that mistake when he looked down for that one-tenth of a second. I knew I had him. He’ll fight hard for the first two or three rounds but I know I really broke his spirit.”
This sums Tyson up perfectly, he wasn’t content on breaking your body, he wanted to also break your spirit.
One word to describe the Panamanian was ‘Crazy’ a look into his dark sinister eyes would find a man hell-bent on causing as much bodily harm as humanly possible within the confines of a boxing ring.
Illegally or legally, It didn’t matter to Duran if it meant the opponent would endure punishment he was all in as Ken Buchanan can attest to when a low blow left the Scot writhing in agony before he was rushed to the hospital to have surgery on his testicles.
Duran straight up loved to fight whether it was for millions in front of thousands of fight fans or on a local corner he was at home whenever he fought, knowing that this is what he excelled at.
A Young Mike Tyson saw similarities in himself with Duran. “When I saw Duran fight, he was just a street guy. He’d say stuff to his opponents like, “Suck my f***ing d**k, you motherf***er. Next time you’re going to the f***ing morgue.”
“After he beat Sugar Ray Leonard in that first fight, he went over to where Wilfred Benitez was sitting and he said, “F**k you. You don’t have the heart or the balls to fight me.”
“Man, this guy is me, I thought. That was what I wanted to do. He was not ashamed of being who he was. I related to him as a human being. As my career progressed and people started praising me for being a savage, I knew that being called an animal was the highest praise I could receive from someone.”
You see his beaming smile on the boxes of his latest Grill giving the impression of a nice god fearing man which of course he is today but when listing fighters that were feared, a 1970’s George Foreman instantly springs to mind.
His early years brought with it trouble which the quiet Foreman would usually end arguments with a swing of his stump like hands, growing up in Marshall, Texas he often would be the youth less heard but the one all feared.
This was a trend which continued, finding boxing whilst serving in the Job Corp, George already held enough power to sink a battleship but his skills needed to be nurtured which they were to the extent that he won a Gold at the 1968 Olympics.
The great Archie Moore was employed as his trainer who told him to never take his eyes of his opponent and to constantly talk to his opposition in an effort to break whatever will they had left.
In a dictionary under the word Intimidation, Foreman’s name should be listed and possibly underlined, his stare alone would break the strongest of mental fortitude with the realisation that you would be stepping into the ring with one of the biggest punchers in the history of the sport.
It was rumoured that Mike Tyson turned down the chance to face Foreman in the 80’s, which tells a story in itself on why George is listed by myself here.
Sonny Liston was the 24th child out of 25 from his fathers two marriages, having to grow up with constant beatings from his father, he worked the fields from the age of eight and joined a gang a few years afterwards.
It was at this time that Liston started to make a name for himself with the Police who nicknamed him ‘the yellow shirt bandit’ Liston was in an out of prison for most of his adult life involved in armed robberies, assault and basically anything that would make money.
it was in Prison that he found a way in which he could beat people up legally, turning his heavyset physique to boxing, a career which would take him to the top of the world.
You would be forgiven into thinking that was where the story ends but Liston who was managed by the mob continued his unsavoury job as an intimidator for his employers, which in turn meant more than a few runnings with the law.
in his prime he was as bad a man as you are likely to see, his stare was emotionless, his intentions were always bad and his actions were always brutal.
Lastly what list of the most intimidating would be complete without the name of Carlos Monzon?
“I always loved Carlos Monzón. He was a tough guy, for real, a guy from the streets, He didn’t talk much. He didn’t need to. The ring belonged to him.” was the words uttered from Mike Tyson when asked about Monzon, which tells a story because when Mike said you were tough there was no second guessing involved.
Before the love affair with Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, Argentinians affection was aimed solely at its greatest boxer of all time in Carlos Monzon, He lost only three times in one hundred contests, going unbeaten in his last 81 fights before he retired, leaving a legacy that most consider one of the best in the Middleweight divisions history.
Inside the ring, he was an incredible force of nature but outside the ring, he was a bad individual whose turbulent upbringing would follow him throughout his career, frequently he would occupy news sections for his punch up’s with reporters or his abusive behaviour towards the women in his life which were sent on numerous hospital visits.
Monzon started hitting big time news with his introduction into Movies, hand in hand came the beautiful women of which there were many but also would lend its hand to his eventual downfall.
It was on Valentine’s day of 1988, with his then-wife Alicia Muniz the pair were involved in an altercation of deadly consequences, it was reported by Forensic evidence that Monzon strangled his wife before throwing her off the second-floor balcony. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the murder.
In 1995 Monzon was given day leave from prison but whilst returning to prison on the evening of January 8th Monzon lost control of his vehicle and died in the crash.
You could say it was Karma.
These are the ones that you would have been scared of, not the make-believe characters of Freddy Kruger or Michael Myers, here the real-life villains thrive in the arena of boxing, a sport which allows them to act out their brutality without any repercussions for their actions.
The things that go bump in the night aren’t necessarily the ones seen in your local cinema, they are the ones that for decades have haunted their division of choice, providing proof time after time that they are the ones that should make you stutter and shake.
Hope you all have a Happy Halloween from us all at TopClassBoxing.