Sports and cinema go a long way. A lot of the films that are made for celluloid have proven to be very successful ventures and have seen some big names featuring as top of the line sportspersons – fictional or real. 2013 Hollywood film Grudge Match that features greats like Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro is a film about two old warhorses taking each other on, in the ring for one last time. Stallone is best remembered for his role as Rocky Balboa, a boxer par excellence, similarly De Niro played an ace pugilist in Raging Bull.
A Peter Segal directorial, it revolves around Pittsburgh boxers Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) and their edge of the cliff rivalry with each beating the other once. At their prime, they decide to break the tie by fighting in the ring because a rematch could never happen since Razor announced his retirement without explanation, infuriating Kid.
The setting in real life is different. The rivals are different but the grudge remains. As boxer Mike Tyson announces that he is keen to hit the ring, there has been strong buzz around him taking on arch rival Evander Holyfield. Announcing his return earlier the heavyweight had announced that he is training as he eyes a return to the boxing ring with impressive physique and scary speed on social media. The speculations around the Grudge Match of sorts picked steam when old rival Holyfield, whose ear Tyson bit of too announced a comeback revealing he was in talks with Iron Mike’s camp about a potential fight. Winning both his bouts against Tyson in the 1990s there rivalry has been stuff of boxing legend. Tyson meanwhile has distanced himself from taking on Holyfield saying that he has bigger names that he has plans to take on. He spoke of this first while speaking to Lil Wayne on the rapper’s Young Money Radio show.
The other name doing the rounds is former heavyweight champ Shannon Briggs who has plans to fight with Tyson at the Statue of Liberty on Independence Day.
The most painful and gory scene of Tyson biting both of Holyfield’s ears remain etched in the memory of those who have followed international boxing. Things turned rather tense and Tyson then also got spat on. In hospital it was discovered that a chunk around half-an-inch wide was missing from his left ear. A slightly over a year, boxing authorities in Nevada gave a vote in favour to reinstate Tyson’s license. By early 1999 he was back in the ring winning against Frans Botha. The next five fights got him three victories. The unstoppable Tyson saw a halt only in 2002 when got stiff competition from Lennox Lewis, the last undisputed heavyweight champion.
Holyfield, meanwhile lost his title in a unification clash. He won and lost the WBA version in his three fights with John Ruiz. He also made three unsuccessful world title bids before retiring after his win over Brian Nielsen in 2011. Going on record, Tyson apologised to Holyfield on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009, an apology which was accepted.
The two also appeared in a Foot Locker advert in 2013 when Tyson knocks on Holyfield’s door with the missing ‘ear’ part where they embrace. As the rivals once again grab headlines, it remains to be seen if the two throw punches at each other again. For the lay observer, little had anyone known that one day they would be talking about meeting in the ring again.