Luis Suarez, meet Mike Tyson.
The retired 50-6 boxer commented Tuesday on the Uruguayan striker suspended from the World Cup, and all soccer-related activity for the next four months, for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in front of an audience of millions. An online interrogator asked what drives athletes to attempt to eat their opponents.
“I think it is just the heat of the moment, really hot blooded and really competitive,” the former heavyweight champion said in a Q&A session on Reddit. “The heat of the moment takes over us, we are really competitive and lose [judgment] in our thinking. Sometimes you can just become highly frustrated.”
Like Suarez, Tyson’s teeth have tasted humans on multiple occasions. In addition to biting both of Evander Holyfield’s ears in their rematch, Iron Mike took a chunk out of Lennox Lewis’s leg in a press-conference melee. Far from the heat of competition inspiring such base acts, as Tyson suggested in the online discussion, the Cus D’Amato product’s embrace of rule breaking almost exclusively followed his competitiveness cooling down. Once Tyson couldn’t quite bite down on that mouthpiece coming off the canvas against Buster Douglas, biting opponents (Holyfield, Lewis), attempting to break one’s arms (Frans Botha), and promising to make one his “girlfriend” (Razor Ruddock) came as predictably as the first-round knockouts had come before it.
Yet, Tyson, like Suarez, can do no wrong among his hardcore supporters. Hundreds of the Uruguayan’s fans greeted him enthusiastically upon his arrival at Montevideo airport late last month, with many in the crowd decrying the perceived unfairness of his suspension. Similarly, Kid Dynamite aficionados–days after their hero’s 48th birthday–still rationalize his rebellions against the Marquess of Queensberry.
“Holyfield was one of the great dirty fighters with that sly head butting,” one Reddit poster maintained. Another, pointing to the “head butting,” divulged: “I would have bit him too.”