Book Review: Mitchell Rose Biography: "Mike Tyson Tried To Kill My Daddy"
By Scoop Malinowski: At first glance, most boxing readers would probably bypass the Mitchell Rose Biography, "Mike Tyson Tried To Kill My Daddy." Rose, a former New York City Golden Gloves finalist and conqueror of Butterbean would be considered a journeyman boxer at best and the reasonable assumption would be, Who cares what Rose has to say?
Article posted on 21.03.2008
But I read the book out of curiosity, partly because all boxing books interest me, Mitch Rose is a friend, and I know him to be a pretty smart and funny guy and respect his achievement of astonishingly knocking out Butterbean against all odds before a packed house at Madison Square Garden in December of 1995 on the under-card of De La Hoya-Leija. Rose's story of that victory is compelling reading, the pre-fight door-knocks from mysterious strangers, the freeze-out he received after - he was shunned of any meaningful fights and also never received the "King of the Four-Rounders" championship belt. To put into perspective the magnitude of the upset, Butterbean earned a reported $75,000 for the fight while the handpicked Rose only pocketed $1,500.
That's Rose's claim to fame in boxing. But the foundation of the book is not just his mediocre boxing career and journey but also the story of growing up and surviving in Brooklyn. I found myself fascinated by Rose's background in the projects and his lifestyle as a trouble-making pickpocket who turned his life around through boxing and some positive experiences at upstate juvenile facilities.
Has a book ever been written by a young black man about his life on the streets? I've never heard of one. And Rose's perspective and story-telling for some reason captivated me. I finished the book in less than a week. Writing about boxing and interviewing boxers since 1992, one of the unexpected things I've learned is that the journeymen boxers who never make it big are sometimes the most revealing characters of all. Very rarely if ever will the media write about or promote guys like Mitchell Rose, Tim Tomashek, Marion Wilson, Pat Lawlor or Ed Guitierrez. But these guys, the Rocky Balboa's who never got their Apollo Creed chance of a lifetime, are all very interesting people and their point of view on the boxing world helps the boxing fan to better appreciate the sport overall.
I'll never forget having breakfast at a diner on the boardwalk in Atlantic City in 2004 and talking with Earl Allen (12-20-2), who was by himself, for an hour the morning of his fight, about his career, his hopes and dreams and that he would hang it all up if he lost again that night. "I get so frustrated when I think about my record," Allen told me at the counter as we ate. "And when I think about when I was a kid and what I wanted. I wanted to be Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson. As you can see, it didn't turn out that way. I feel like I wanted it but...I don't know what happened." Allen took his lumps that night and got stopped by Dennis Sharpe in four rounds. And as he left the ring nobody knew it was the end of the dream for him. He looked so sad and alone as he left the ring I had to run over and give him a hug, not that it meant anything to him. That was the end of boxing for Allen he never fought again and we never spoke again.
So Mitch Rose's story is kind of like what I imagine Earl Allen's story to be, except Rose did manage to hit the big time for a few moments by beating a star like Butterbean in the world's greatest arena. I saw Rose win that night in person and he looked like a worldbeater. You would never know his record was 1-4, he looked like a 20-0 prospect against Butterbean, ripping sharp jabs and and vicious combinations on Butterbean. Maybe Butterbean was that bad. Even HBO commentator George Foreman was quite impressed by Rose's triumph - you'll have to read the book for that anecdote.
There's actually a lot more to this book. Rose had an infamous physical confrontation with Mike Tyson at a Brooklyn nightclub Sugarhill which ended up in a $66,000,000 lawsuit. Rose and Tyson hung out together all night that night and were getting along like brothers. Says Rose of Tyson, "Mike never seemed to look down at people and it seemed like he did not forget where he came from. He tried to say hi to as many people as possible." But the night would take a strange twistt. Tyson and Rose got into a brawl in the wee hours after Rose, apparently a little intoxicated, said to Tyson, "Yo Mike, be careful with those chicken heads." Rose's account of the night is good reading.
Now don't get me wrong, "Mike Tyson Tried To Kill My Daddy" is not a classic worthy of the same shelf as A.J. Leibling, Roger Kahn's 'Jack Dempsey & The Roaring Twenties, A Flame of Pure Fire', or Peter Heller's "Bad Intentions.' And some of Rose's views on racism and social issues are curious. But overall I enjoyed this well-written and highly unique autobiography.
What often gets overlooked is that there's a lot more to boxing than HBO, Don King, glamour, jackpots of money, Roy Jones, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Evander Holyfield, the thrill of victory. Superstardom and success are just one aspect of prizefighting, the focal point. I believe Mitchell Rose has contributed a commendable literary work that sheds light and understanding on the other side of boxing: the frustration and truth of defeat. And most boxing fans will enjoy, for the most part, the point of view and observations Mitchell Rose has decided to share with the boxing community.
"Mike Tyson Tried To Kill My Daddy" by Mitchell Rose can be purchased for $15 by contacting Mitchell Rose at email@example.com by check, money order or credit card. Write to Mitch at
Rose Knockout Products
PO Box 691
Valley Stream, NY 11582
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