Updated: Nov 30, 2022
The call came out of the blue in late 2013. With 16 books already under my belt, I was about to write my craziest yet.
A filmmaker friend of mine was on the line, down in Florida, and wondered if I would like to write a book about Mike Tyson and his old boxing team and manager.
"Are you kidding? I grew up watching Ali, Holmes, and Tyson with my dad. You bet I'm interested."
"Then get down here right away," my friend insisted. "These guys are all about relationship. They won't agree to anything till you meet in person."
I arrived by car in Orlando late that same night, and in the spring of 2014 I holed up for a month in a Boca Raton house with four or five members of Team Tyson.
Oh, the stories these guys could tell!
There was the one about Mike's pet tiger clawing open the roof of his car like a tin can. And the time Naomi Campbell climbed between two hotel balconies in high heels, a hundred feet in the air, in the middle of a lover's feud with Mike. There were stories of true friendship and deep love, and of pain, betrayal, and sexual addiction.
My 17th book, Taming the Beast: the Untold Story of Team Tyson, was R-rated and far grittier than anything I had written before.
It was also beautiful, raw, and redemptive.
It painted a story of friendship, devotion, and courage in the midst of harrowing circumstances. It revealed the hollow rewards of money, sex, excess, and drugs, and pointed to something deeper and longer lasting.
I had a lot to learn from these guys and we had a blast working together. I later visited some of their homes and churches in Queens, Brownsville, and Manhattan. We took a trip together to Catskill, where Mike first got started as a boxer under trainer Cus D'Amato. We laughed, cried, smoked cigars, and drank sake. We even prayed together.
Taming the Beast is a book I'm very proud of, though it's not for the faint of heart. The best part is, I made new friends for life.
Sometimes writing a book isn't just about writing a book. You can't always judge a book by its cover.