Tyson teaching lessons on lifeWe can see the movie already.
Sort of "Mighty Ducks" meets "School of Rock."
Mike Tyson is teaching the youth of America. As part of a court-ordered 100-hour community service sentence handed out last month, Tyson is teaching boxing to kids at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn. Can anything good come from this?
Looking into our crystal ball, we've discovered a lesson plan that teaches more than the basics of combination punches to Tyson's charges. With the boxer's own notes and the help of a student we'll call "Danny," we discover a class that is more about life than the sweet science.
Lesson 1: I'll use the opening class to give the students a feel for what I hope to accomplish during my time with them in the gym, citing examples from my own life to show them how I got to where I am today.
Danny's reaction: We were really surprised to see Mr. Tyson instead of our regular teacher. He explained that after talking with a man in a hotel lobby, he decided to take up teaching for 100 hours. Attendance is obviously pretty important to him, because he made a big deal of signing in and calling his supervisor to tell him he was here.
Lesson 2: A frank discussion of Social Darwinism and the Horatio Alger myth. I plan to teach the kids about the importance of toughness as a survival trait and the need to act quickly to capitalize on financial opportunities.
Danny's reaction: We were kind of surprised when Mr. Tyson beat up the weaker kids in class and took their lunch money.
Lesson 3: The importance of nutrition. With the current epidemic of obesity among the children of this country, it's crucial to begin building a basic knowledge of ways to eat in a healthy manner. I'll continue my pattern of individual instruction for selected students.
Danny's reaction: Mr. Tyson told us how eating certain meats is an important part of his boxing regimen. Then he took Billy into the kitchen for a special demonstration. Billy must have gotten sick, because we didn't see him again, but Mr. Tyson came back muttering something about fava beans and a nice chianti.
Lesson 4: The zen of nature. Focusing on the mental aspects of fighting, I will teach the students about communicating with the natural world and finding harmony with all creatures, even in an urban environment.
Danny's reaction: At first, it was kind of neat when Mr. Tyson brought his pigeons into the gym, but he spent the whole class talking to them instead of us. And when they started going to the bathroom all over the floor, Mr. Tyson made us clean it up.
Lesson 5: Continuing the lessons on the importance of incorporating non-physical training into a complete boxing workout, I'll engage the students in a debate about their perceptions of art and show them ways to take their passion to a new level.
Danny's reaction: Class was really cool today, but boy was my mom ticked off when I got home. Mr. Tyson asked me what my favorite picture was, and I told him about the logo for Bad Boy Records. Then Mr. Tyson had his friend come over and paint that logo on my face! It was off the hook!
Lesson 6: Setting goals and self-motivation. I hope to stress to the kids that as in life, the only way to get ahead in boxing is to push yourself by setting goals and finding motivational tools.
Danny's reaction: Mr. Tyson brought in this big life-sized doll of that one guy who is on television all the time -- you know, the one with the big spiky white hair who uses all those weird words. Then he just beat the hell out of it with a baseball bat and told us that thinking about that is the only thing that gets him out of bed some mornings.
Lesson 7: Existential geography. Although it may be over their heads, I will attempt to introduce the students to the notion of quasi-physical locations that exist dependent on variables and stimuli in our own minds. Such out-of-the-box thinking should help them open their minds to new training techniques.
Danny's reaction: I want to move to Bolivion when I grow up.
Lesson 8: Class today will be monitored. Just to be safe, I don't plan to introduce any further new material to the remaining students.
Danny's reaction: Someone must think Mr. Tyson makes a lot of mistakes, because someone from the Department of Corrections sat in on class today. But class ended up being kind of boring. We just learned how to set up the right hook with our jabs.
Lesson 9: Managing money. Some of these kids want to eventually earn a living through the sport, and it's important they have a firm understanding of how to deal with the potential income.
Danny's reaction: Mr. Tyson told us how much trouble he had keeping track of his fortune before learning important secrets like investing in low-risk T-bills, finding optimal interest rates and not paying taxes.
Lesson 10: The dangers of a lascivious lifestyle. In this day and age, young people are constantly bombarded and enticed with images and talk of the forbidden fruits. It's important they learn about the realities of life in the modern sexual world.
Danny's reaction: Mr. Tyson started talking about some guy named Jimmy Swaggart and then asked if any of our sisters were 18. I think he's going off the deep end.
Lesson 11: Field trip. In an effort to show the kids that there is more to life than what goes on inside the ropes, I will take them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By seeing works from some of the great masters, they'll see incontrovertible evidence of what happens when talent mixes with desire.
Danny's reaction: Art museums are boring. They're just a punch of paintings on the wall, and the guards get really mad when you touch them. The only cool part was when Mr. Tyson told us about how this guy named Van Gogh cut off his own ear to show how much he loved something. Mr. Tyson seemed really moved by it.
Lesson 12: Canceled.
Danny's reaction: Our old teacher Mr. Mitchell was back in class today. He said Mr. Tyson had moved on to pursue other opportunities. We worried something might be wrong with him, but it turns out Nevada just agreed to give him a boxing license.
I'll always remember the lessons we learned from Mr. Tyson. Now if we could just find Billy ...
Graham Hays writes "Out of the Box" five days a week in--between moonlighting for Page 2. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.