THE SUGARMAN SAYS
Use what talents you possess, the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best
On this very date, August 23rd 1988 Mike Gerard Tyson broke his hand in a 4a.m street brawl with professional fighter Mitch Green in Harlem, New York City. Some writers have chronicled this event as the beginning of the end for the young heavyweight.
His career quickly hurtled along a reckless path of self destruction. Lawsuits, prescription drug dependency, incarceration, flirtation with cannibalism, rape and bankruptcy followed. Whatever you views on Tyson ‘the man’, many writers use two words to sum up Tyson the
boxer. ’Wasted talent’.
Like so few in sport, and life, Tyson tasted unprecedented highs, he also battled excruciating lows. It got me thinking about ‘talent. Why is it that so many sports stars appear to be synonymous with failure to use their talents to the full?
Tyson, Best, Gascoigne, Kafelnikov, O’ Sullivan, Higgins, Daley, the list goes on and on.
Don’t get me wrong, I guess professional sport would be all the more boring if all footballers were Gary Lineker, and every Snooker player were Steven Hendry, but why is it so obvious in sport? Why do we care so much when we see enigmas throwing their talent away in the world of sport?
When was the last time you looked around your office and thought to yourself ‘you know that John would be the best photocopier ever if he just respected his gift’, or ‘no body can strip down a ford fiesta better than Joe, it’s a shame he doesn’t appreciate just how good he is’. It doesn’t happen. Yet if John or Joe were sports stars we condemn them as ‘wasters’ even if they reached the pinnacle in their field. !
Some thing just doesn’t add up. Maybe it’s jealousy. We watch the Tyson’s and Higgins’ of this world implode, and deep down we see a little bit of something we all aspire to be but know we can never achieve.
We witness them arrive at the top of the mountain, totally disregard the view and we think to ourselves ‘if that was me I’d…… or ‘if I was in his shoes I wouldn’t’…..
Did former undisputed heavy weight champion of the world Mike Tyson waste his talent? Did European cup winner George Best waste his talent? Did two time world snooker champion Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins waste his talent? The answer, sadly, is a resounding yes.
These and many more sports stars, past, present and future will inevitably waste their God given talent, leaving lesser mortals tearing their hair out in frustration.