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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The rehabilitation of Mike Tyson

It's seems like ancient history now, but once upon a time, before the advent of mixed martial arts, Mike Tyson was regarded as the baddest man on the planet. His knockout power was such that huge black men like Trevor Berbick and Pinklon Thomas cowered in fear when they entered the ring with him. It was said that most of his opponents were already beaten before the fight started.

Tyson's fearsome reputation was exacerbated by his early history of juvenile delinquency and his pronouncements about what he was going to do to his opponents ("drive the bone from his nose up into his brain," "eat his children," etc.). Some of this was done to drum up interest in the fight, but some came from a seemingly inexhaustible supply of rage. At one press conference, a spectator yelled, "Put him in a strait jacket." Here is Tyson's reaction.

(As best I can tell, he wasn't acting.)

As a result of both his boxing prowess and his raw image, Tyson got more publicity than any heavyweight since Muhammad Ali. Much of the press coverage he got was understandably negative, and many took pains to disparage his feral nature. But Tyson, unlike Don King and Robin Givens, never struck me as a sociopath.

Tyson's reign as champ lasted only four years. After his original manager Cus d'Amato died, Tyson hired a couple of childhood friends who knew little about boxing to be his trainers. He got out of shape, started drinking (partly to emulate the old time boxers), and married Robin Givens. None of these things had a positive effect on his boxing, and by 1990 he was a shadow of the boxer he had been in 1986.

But the out of control lifestyle didn't stop. There were the auto accidents, the pet tiger, the nonstop partying, the rape conviction, the ear biting incident, and the preflight scuffle with Lennox Lewis. Then, the inevitable bankruptcy. And then, you didn't hear much about him for a while. 

But all of a sudden, in the past couple years, Tyson has popped back into public view -- as a lovable teddy bear.

There he was in The Hangover, playing himself to comedic effect.

Here he is telling a magazine interviewer that he is now a vegetarian. (Which must mean he's given up eating his opponents' children.)

He showed up at Comedy Central's Charlie Sheen roast, delivering his own speech, then doubling over with laughter as he in turn was savaged by the other comedians. At one point Jeffrey Ross told him, "Mike, when I was listening to you I wanted to chew my own ears off." Tyson laughed as if it was the funniest thing he'd ever heard.

Here's what Amy Schumer had to say to him, as well as his reaction to her insults. (Contrast this reaction to his earlier reaction linked above.)

When Patrice O'Neal got his turn at the podium, he captured the moment perfectly by saying, "You know, I'm not so sure I like the way white people are so....comfortable with Mike Tyson these days."

Then last week there was Tyson at Madison Square Garden, participating in Lin-mania. When interviewer Jill Martin asked him somewhat pointed questions about his biggest regrets, he responded laughingly.

So it's now official: Mike Tyson is a cuddly mascot.

This type of rehabilitation has happened to only one other boxing champ: George Foreman. Foreman was also regarded as a sullen force of nature early in his career, though his main role was to play the heavy to Muhammad Ali in the famous Rumble in the Jungle. Foreman boxed for three more years after that fight, then faded into obscurity for a decade or so, working as a preacher at a rundown church in Texas. Eventually he made a comeback in the late 1980's that culminated in a piece of the heavyweight title. By this point he was the old man in the game, and also had enough nostalgia value so that people rooted for him. He subsequently made a fortune promoting cooking grills thanks to his newly jovial persona.

But other than Foreman, there's no one in recent memory who has undergone the image transformation Tyson has. Certainly not Sonny Liston, the glowering man who was dethroned by the young Cassius Clay. Liston was widely reputed to be mobbed up, and also a heroin user. He died under questionable circumstances in Las Vegas years later, mourned by few. The public has never warmed up to Larry Holmes. During his reign he was said to have suffered by being the successor to Ali, but Holmes would have been considered charisma-free in any era.

Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano were heroes from start to finish; their images never changed.

Muhammad Ali is, of course, an icon. But he always was, so there was no rehab involved there, either. These days Ali gets trotted out on various public occasions, and each time we get to see the long term aftereffects of all those Pyrrhic victories over Frazier, Foreman, Norton, and Shavers.

Iron Mike, despite his moniker, did not have the iron jaw Ali did, and so was knocked out by Buster Douglas and Lennox Lewis rather than having his brains battered for round after round. As a result he is now getting to enjoy his post-boxing incarnation as Cuddly Mike.

I'm glad he's enjoying the last laugh over Robin Givens and Don King.


Steven said...

I'm glad you said that Tyson wasn't a sociopath because I've always felt that he was someone who could have stayed on the straight and narrow if he'd got the right love and support, like maybe if Cus D'amato hadn't died. I think he had that spark of goodness in him. He had a difficult upbringing, got betrayed and used a lot after Cus died and was jacked with testosterone. He was also quite a sensitive person. He certainly had the capacity to feel fear if that is counter to sociopathy.

I believe George Foreman was one of the greatest heavyweight champions and remains somewhat underappreciated. Ali had very close fights with Fraser and Norton while Foreman destroyed them both, blew them away. Ali just out hussled him.

Steven said...

"I'll eat your arsehole alive you bitch".

wow trash talk fail. That was embarrassing. He rescued it towards the end though.

Steven said...

I think he's just got out of jail in this video and it looks like he picked up some unfortunate prison threats.

John Craig said...

Steven --
"I'll fuck you till you love me, white boy" is another of my son's favorite Tyson quotes. He says it laughingly from time to time.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Sounds to me as if he somehow to the quote you cited mangled up. (It doesn't make sense.)

John Craig said...

Steven --
Yes, Tyson for ll his fearsome reputation and image, was far too honest to be a sociopath. At one point in hi slide he was out of control, and as you say, he was a natural testosterone monster, but he never pretended to be something he wasn't, which is the essence of sociopathy.

Foreman was at his prime a force of nature, but his problem was that he relied on his power and never really learned to be a polished boxer. Tyson, despite his image, in fact had a full repertoire of weapons, and was incredibly good defensively too, at least at his 1986 prime. He had a pulverizing left hook as well as a crushing straight right, and had incredibly powerful uppercuts with both hands. He had good footwork and his peek-a-boo defense was remarkably effective. Foreman didn't even punch straight, he just sort of clubbed widely at people, and he didn't have a good defense (other than the proverbial good offense). This is why he got beaten by Ali in '74. Had the Tyson of '86 taken on Ali at HIS prime, say, the Ali of '66, I think Tyson would have knocked him out. Ali's greatest advantage back then was his speed, but Tyson was just about as fast, and much more powerful.

Steven said...

I completely agree with your analysis of Tyson's strengths as a boxer and Foreman's weaknesses. An excellent appraisal.

The classic Ali vs Tyson question. One of the main things I think Tyson has in his favour is that he threw the kind of punches that Ali was vulnerable to. When Ali was knocked down, it was by left hooks (see Henry Cooper and Ali-Fraser 1). Fraser had a great left hook but Tyson could probably throw them even better and harder than Fraser and basically specialized in those type of short hooks. Ali was more adept at dodging straight punches or wild swinging ones, a la Foreman.

I would say that Ali was a little faster than Tyson in hand speed, reflexes and movement. Also consider that far inferior boxers to Ali went 12 rounds with Tyson, close to or at Tyson's prime. If James Smith and Tony Tucker can both go 12 rounds with Tyson in 87 then I think Ali could avoid those hooks and survive a fight with him.

But unlike those, Ali would be doing far more effective offensive work, hitting him with stinging punches all the way through (just like against Liston). Tyson never had particularly good stamina- he never got stronger as the fight went on like Joe Fraser.

You can say Tyson's prime was 86 but who did he fight? Nobody even close to a great and he won the title off Trevor Berbick, probably one of the worst heavyweight champions ever.

My verdict: either Tyson gets Ali with a left hook or Ali gets a knockout from rounds 7-12. If I had to bet all my money on it, I'd probably back Ali but I'd be nervous watching. If they had 5 fights, I'd back Ali to win a majority because he was too clever to make the same mistake 3 times.

Gotta love a good hypothetical boxing debate.

John Craig said...

Steven --
At least I know that with you, unlike with most people my age I've had this debate with, you're not taking Ali's side because he's your sentimental favorite and represents civil rights etc.

A couple of points. one of Ali's best defenses was to just lean back when someone threw a punch; that worked with slower boxers, I don't think it would have worked with Tyson. Plus it worked better with boxers who weren't as aggressive, and Tyson would have been able to rush him more effectively.

Also, Ali carrying his arms low worked against slower boxers, but again, I don't think it would have worked against Tyson as well.

Yes, Ali probably had better hand speed, but not by much: Tyson's was often overlooked, simply because everyone always focused on his power.

I think in the early days Tyson's stamina was good; it just went downhill rapidly after d'Amato died because he had no one he respected pushing him in training anymore. Plus his wild lifestyle took its toll fairly rapidly. No boxer really gets "stronger" in the later rounds, they just appear stronger because their opponents appear weaker.

You say Tyson never fought anybody great, but everybody he fought looked worse by virtue of having fought him; in a way, he sucked up all the oxygen in the boxing arena. James "Quick" Tillis had a piece of the crown at one point and a pretty good reputation until he fought Tyson. Likewise, Trevor Berbick was a respected champion till he got knocked out by Tyson. And Pinklon Thomas had big reputation until Tyson rendered him senseless. tyrell Biggs and Marvis Frazier were regarded as up and comers till they fought Tyson. Tyson beat an admittedly way past his prime Larry Holmes, who i think was way underrated, at least at his prime. And he pulverized Michael Spinks, who was a respected champion, if admittedly a blown up lift heavyweight. None of these guys were eve the same again after they fought Tyson. Yes, "Bonecrusher" Smith lasted for 12 rounds, but he was a big, strong, incredibly durable guy. And Tony Tucker just played extreme defense for 12 rounds, never tried to really be in the fight, just ran away the whole time.

Anyway, it's certainly not impossible to imagine Ali playing defense and dancing away from Tyson for 12 rounds; but I would still pick Tyson.

You certainly know your old time boxing for a 29-year-old.

Steven said...

I'm 30 now. My birthday was a few week ago.

I read a couple of Ali biographies and watched documentaries and old footage of Ali when I was 15/16. Ali was a bit of a hero of mine then. I also got a 16th birthday card from Jake LaMotta because my dad wrote him a letter.

Tyson did fight some good opposition, the best around at the time, including Olympic gold medalist and hall of famer Michael Spinks and others. I just didn't think 86 was a particularly distinguished year in terms of opposition. I think he fought better opposition in 87 and 88 but that's not particularly germane. Unfortunately for him, he didn't get to fight his own rival all time great in his prime, and he was certainly an all time great himself.

I think you might be underestimating Ali a bit.

For one thing, his low hands and reflexes worked against everybody, even fast opponents. Up until the late 70's when he was a shadow of his former self, there was nobody who he couldn't beat- he beat everybody, even the ones that had beaten him. And he only got beaten in the 70's when he didn't have his legs. Henry Cooper did come very close in the sixties to getting a flash knockout but Ali also thoroughly outboxed him over both fights.

His freakish reflexes combined with his foot speed in the sixties made him incredibly hard to hit. He didn't just lean back but also to the side (or duck forward) and moving all at the same time, plus he'd pick people off very effectively while fighting defensively and he was very good at tying them up and holding too.

Look at the first Sonny Liston fight. Sonny Liston was actually fairly fast and he had really long arms but Liston could hardly lay a glove on Ali. Although I accept he had an easier style for Ali.

You can see the total focus in that fight. Ali always turned up for the big fights. He'd have been 100% ready and 100% in the zone against Tyson.

I personally wouldn't be surprised if he could evade and avoid knockout by Tyson. I can't seriously tell myself that Ali would be unable to do what other inferior boxers did and avoid Tyson's big punches.

Ali was incredibly durable and had a great chin too so even if he got caught once, it wouldn't necessarily be game over right there.

Tyson was very fast but Ali was unbelievably fast. I think the difference may be a little bigger than you think.

I can definitely see Tyson catching him but I lean towards Ali in the late rounds. If Tyson did catch him and win, I think Ali would win the rematch.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Ali wasn't great; obviously, he was one of the best heavyweights of all time. I just think peoples' impression of him, especially back in the 60's, got conflated with his boxing ability and people remember him as greater than he was.

Yes, he had an incredible chin (for which he paid the price later on, with his parkinson's Syndrome and his slurred speech). And his reflexes were amazing. And if you measure greatness by longevity, Ali wins over Tyson, who went downhill much more quickly. But i was making a point in time to point in time comparison.

You mention that Tyson fought an inferior grade of opponent. I don't think that's true. Henry Cooper, whom you mention, was a 195 pound white guy who, as you say, almost knocked him out. Frazier's fighting weight was 199. George Chuvalo and Joe Bugner and Oscar Bonavena were slow moving white guys. When Ali, admittedly past his prime by the 70's, fought a better grade of opponent then, he didn't look as good. Frazier knocked him down in '71, Norton really beat him (according to most ringside observers) in '76, and Foreman lost to him in '74 because he fought a stupid fight and had no endurance. Even Leon Spinks, who weighed something like 202, beat Ali. OK, by '78, Ali was a shell, so maybe we shouldn't count that last fight, and we won't count the Berbick or Holmes fights either. But the guys Tyson fought ere mostly bigger and stronger physically, and trained smarter, than Ali's opponents.

Anyway….Ali vs. Tyson does seem to be the most common boxing argument. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree here.

Steven said...

He fought some big black guys in the sixties too: Cleveland Williams (6 ft 3), Ernie Terrell (6 ft 8), Zora Foley (6ft 1). And he looked at his absolute best in those last three fights.

Ali was noticeably past his 70's best in '75 and he was shot after the rumble in the jungle, so I don't think the Norton fight in 76 should count against him much. It was a close fight in any case.

Tyson's opponents were taller and heavier on average but I think Ali was still better than them all. (It seems like the average heavyweight has been getting bigger in every decade).

If Ali was young in the 80's, he'd have probably lifted weights. He wasn't a small heavyweight himself at 6ft 3.

Even while I argue in favour of Ali against Tyson, I can see the other side of the argument. I can imagine Tyson getting to him, for sure. That's entirely plausible.

I just lean slightly to Ali. Its all about whether Ali could avoid the knockout hook...if he can (and I'm saying he can), I think he outboxes Tyson.

Like you said, agree to disagree.

Steven said...

Last thing, Tyson's style was tailor made to give Ali trouble. He had the exact style that could be a problem for Ali.

Steven said...

I have to say something on the race issue though. You mentioned that Ali fought white boxers.

Where are the black boxers that can beat the Klitschkos? Even Vitali was clearly getting the better of the fight with Lewis (who admittedly took the fight late) when he unfortunately got a cut that stopped the fight. About 8 or 9 of the top ten heavyweights are white, eastern Europeans. This happened since the end of communism and they would have been top ten fighters in the 70's and 80's too if they had the chance.

(I personally believe that eastern European men are a little tougher and stronger on average than western Europeans. I think its probably because of colder winters- extra selection for strength and toughness. Peasant life was very tough in Russia.)

I think the major west African black advantage is in sprinting...which is why they dominate sprinting events and running sports. I don't think they have the same advantage in upper body strength. Look at weightlifting and strength events...lots of whites winning, lots of eastern Europeans. I think there may even be a correlation between reflex and IQ, although the two best reflex boxers I can think of are black. I don't think they have such a big advantage in boxing as they do in running. They may have some.

John Craig said...

Steven --
In order: Yes, Ali fought some big guys, and Cleveland Williams was probably the best of thee three you mention. But before his fight with Ali he had been shot, and his weight had gone down to 160 pounds, and then he came back from that to fight Ali. He was obviously full sized again when he fought Ali, but I don't think he was the same fighter he had been. As I recall Terrell couldn't move all that well, and Zora Folley was a guy Ali liked and sort of carried for a few rounds, if memory serves.

OK, agreed about post-'74 Ali. I actually watched Ali work out once in person, in '78, before the first Spinks fight, and he was pathetic. The entire time he was showing off to the crowd by grabbing his sparring partner around the neck and pulling him in close, then putting his other arm behind his own back, an deleting his spring partner pummel his midsection while he mugged to the crowd as if to say, see, this doesn't even hurt. But he wasn't doing any of the things that might have won him a fight. Not dancing, not throwing punches, not doing anything.

The three white guys I mentioned, bonavena, Chuvalo, and Bugner, were all slow and ponderous. All three were tough guys, and big and strong, and could take a good punch. But none seemed particularly athletic, and none even punched all that hard.

True, white guys seem to dominate the heavyweight division these days, which came as a surprise to me when it first started happening. But since you mention the Klitschko's I do have to bring up steroids. Vitali tested positive early in his career 9while still an amateur), and even though he never tested positive again, I have to assume that he was using PED's of some sort but just didn't get caught later on. And if he was, chances are his brother was too. I don't know about the rest of the division. Valuev certainly looked clean to me, he moved well for an acromegalic guy but I think you have to say he was okay but not great. (I happen to be a huge fan of Valuev the person, but that's beside the point.) This is not to say that the blacks who've fought in the past two decades have been clean; Holyfield was obviously dirty, and I'm sure others were as well. But I think Tyson was clean; he had an incredibly thick, well muscled build from the time he was 13, and never put on a suspicious amount of muscle at a late age. In any case, my point is that I suspect he fought a number of fighters who were juicing, whereas Ali didn't have to. (Steroids weren't in widespread use back in the 60's.)

I wouldn't be surprised if you're right about Eastern Europeans vs. Western Europeans, although Germans tend to be quite big and strong too. And the Dutch are often large and strong as well.

Agreed that West Africans have more of an advantage in sprinting than they have in boxing, but I do think they still have an advantage in boxing. Longer reach (for their height), faster reflexes, and slightly more muscular. Plus they seem to be less concussable (smaller brains, thicker skulls). I suspect the resin that you see fewer top black heavyweights these days is that the best black athletes in this country tend to gravitate towards football and basketball. You see tons of black guys in the NFL and NBA who are between 6'3" and 6'7" who weight between 220 and 280 pounds who would obviously have made great heavyweight boxers, but who opted for the bigger money in this sports. (Very few boxers get to NBA-level pay.) Back in the 60's, the dichotomy between boing pay and pro football or basketball pay wasn't quite as great.

Steven said...

A few points and comments:

My dad also saw Ali in a training session, for either the Holmes or Berbick fight. He snuck behind the scenes afterwards and got into a room where he was alone with Ali. Ali shook his finger disapprovingly then offered my dad his hand to shake.

If the Klitschkos used steds in in the early part of their careers, would it still affect their performance? Can you gain muscle mass through steroid use and keep it after you stop using?

Sure, there are British and Irish guys who are big and strong too. I just think that Polish guys look stronger and tougher on average. Incidentally, one of our best boxers, known for being incredibly tough and durable, is Carl Froch...his father was Polish. His defining trait is strength, all types of strength.

Eastern Europeans seem to excell at weight lifting and strength events too. I once looked at the US weight lifting team and Olympic champions and as far as I could tell, black people weren't over-represented at all. I might be wrong about that.

Black people are less cutable but I'm not sure if they are less concussable...I'd have to see stats on it. Its not obvious to me from watching boxing. I see white guys beating black guys often and vice versa.

Why do you think they have better reflexes? If there is a positive correlation between IQ and reflexes, that would imply the opposite.

Saying all that, I agree black fighters have some advantage. They are surely overrepresented in the top ranks considering they are only 12% of the US population and less in Europe....and the training and organisation is probably quite poor in Africa. Also, they are definitely overrepresented amongst the very best ever- the Sugar Rays, Henry Armstrong, Ali, arguably Mayweather etc etc.

On the other hand, a lot of the best ever boxers came from poverty and boxing as their way out; blacks had more poverty and more of a dire situation than whites to come from. Even so, I'd still give blacks an advantage.

Steven said...

For reference, here you can see the top tens in every division with pictures.

Steven said...

by the way, Deontay Wilder looks a pretty hot prospect. He's the big black hope and the American hope.

Steven said...

He is also a perfect example to back up your argument. He was trying to play basketball until he had a daughter born with spina bifida, then had to make money. He took up boxing and has taken the boxing world by storm.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Ali was playful and charming, no doubt.

It's my impression that if you take steroids and then go off them, after a few years you'll still have more muscle mass than if you'd never taken them. But that's just my impression I have no numbers to back that up.

No, black people generally don't dominate lifting the way they do other sports. I think that's partly because they just don't go into it for whatever reason, but also because what is a physical advantage in other sports -- longer limb length -- is a disadvantage in lifting. Look at the lighter divisions and you'll see a lot of guys who look almost like dwarves. Shorter arms and legs make it easier to lift weights.

I don't have any stats to back up my claim that blacks are less concussable, but I was a big boxing fan for a long time, in the 70's and 80's, and that was my overwhelming impression. Ali was the ultimate example of a black who didn't concuss easily (and he paid the price later on).

It's the same with speed -- I have no stats, but that was my overwhelming impression. Every now and then you'd ee a guy like Sugar Ray Leonard with his blinding hand and foot speed, or Tommy Hearns with his hand speed, and they always seemed to be black.

Thanks fro that list. Interesting. Yes, Deontay Wilder looks like quite a prospect. He's actually a good example of one black advantage I'd mentioned, reach: his height is 6' 7" (79") and his wingspan is 84". Usually for white guys those measurements are closer to equal. I was very impressed by Deontay's power and speed, though less so with his form: he throws wide looping rights that I would think a quick boxer would find easier to avoid, though in that highlight reel very few boxers seemed able to avoid it.

Steven said...

I thought the same thing about Wilder. Awesome power and good accuracy but a slightly clumsy technique. He did take it up late.

Steroids in their early career or not, the Klitschkos have brilliant records. Vitali is 45 (41)-2 and the 2 were both stoppages due to injury or cut, not real losses. He was getting the better of his exchanges with Lewis before it was stopped- white men cut easier probably.

He was never Ko'd like Wlad. Wlad's record is 62-3, unbeaten for ten years, even though the heavyweight division is shit and he's fighting a lot of bums. Its still impressive though.

I think they'd have held their own in any era and been a lot better than any of the white heavyweights of Ali's era.

I can relate to what you said about speed but not KOs or wins/losses. Blacks and whites seem pretty even to me these days in boxing. I see a lot white boys beating blacks boys.

If there are testosterone differences, purely for that reasons you would expect black guys to be more muscular and strong on average. You do observe the muscle thing in ordinary young guys I think.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Agreed about the Klitschko's. I don't follow boxing closely anymore, but their records speak of themselves. I could see Vitali beating Ali. He's much more "scientific" than the boxers were back in the 60's, and Ali could have had trouble with a tall, strong guy with good technique.

I think the differences in athletic ability are much more clearly seen in this country, where (a) there are a lot more blacks, and (b) the most talented athletes go into (American) football and basketball. The NFL is 60% black, and the NBA is 80% black. And the differences may be even more clear in track, where blacks hold every single running WR now, from 100 meters up to the marathon. The last white WR-holder was a Brit, Seb Coe. And the black dominance in some events is ridiculous. There hasn't been a single white finalist at the Olympics in the men's 100 meter dash since 1980, the year of the Western boycott.

Steven said...

The difference in sprinting and running generally is huge and surely even for the diehard environmental/nurture folks it must be hard to believe its not genetic.

I think something like 70 men have run 100m in under 10 seconds and 67 or 68 have been black of west African descent. If you look up the figures, its something like that.

I think that translates to a big advantage in American football, then possibly factor in bone density and body mass.

Even in premier league soccer, there are a lot of black players, though a lot of them are Africans so the talent pool is bigger than the UK black population. The best player of our time is white though- Lionel Messi. And white men are still doing very well in the sport.

In conclusion to our discussion, lets hear from Tyson.

Not that it gets us any closer o knowing. I wonder how Tyson would have reacted to Ali's constant taunts before the fight. I wonder if he'd have been intimidated or psyched out by him. Tyson was intimidate-able I think.

Steven said...

Lemaitre had a good chance of making the final in 2012 but thought he had a better chance of a medal in the 200. Run close to his pb and he could have got a medal.

John Craig said...

Steven --
I think Tyson was just being gracious there. You have to remember, given his long and colorful and rebellious history, Ali is almost a religious figure to American blacks. I think if they'd come along in the same era, Tyson wouldn't have ben intimidated by him. Ali's legend has grown over time, to the point where he's not just a boxer anymore. (Actually, he was more than just a boxer back then, too, now that I think of it. To the counterculture movement, and especially to blacks, he was a god.)

Your figures on the 100 meter dash sound right.

John Craig said...

Steven --
One thing I'll say for Lemaitre, he's clean, it's obvious when you look at his body. A lot of the guys who made the final were juiced.

Steven said...

I meant to convey that Lemaitre never entered the 100m in 2012 (or pulled out early). If he'd entered, he would have had a good chance of reaching the final but very little chance of a medal.

I think I fully understand your point of view on Ali now.

John Craig said...

Steven --
You did convey it, and I was actually aware of it anyway (I follow track fairly closely).