When Irishman Kevin McBride stopped Mike Tyson in round six of their June 11, 2005 bout, you might have thought the win would have propelled McBride toward a title shot, or at the least, better opportunities for more meaningful and lucrative fights. But that expected momentum didn't really materialize.
Yes, Tyson by that time wasn't seen as the savage destroyer of brain cells he had been circa the late 80s. But, he was still Iron Mike and a heavy favorite to beat a lumbering journeyman. That "lumbering journeyman," though, elevated himself on that night, with willpower and heart as much as anything. McBride celebrated buoyantly in that DC ring, and in days following, was planning his path out of semi-obscurity. It didn't pan out. It took him almost a full year to get back in the ring, and he met journeyman Byron Polley in that tussle. He fought once in 2006, once in 2007, and lost both outings. Signing with promoter Don King didn't result in a clear path to a pot of gold, or even silver. He left boxing for almost three years, lost a comeback fight and is 2-6 overall since the Tyson conquest. Yes, like many ring stories, you have to search hard for the silver lining to the Kevin McBride story.
NYC film-maker Joshua Weinstein shot a short documentary, called "I Beat Mike Tyson" which manages to convey the emotional complexity of the McBride story. Im the film, silver linings are not seen in abundance.
I asked Weinstein about the film, how and why he picked the project.
"It's a film about a man whose greatest achievements are behind him," he said. "But boxing, the only thing McBride ever learned to do well, is how he defines himself. These polarizing ideas are what the film seeks to explore."
Weinstein, hired by an aspiring film-maker, shot footage of McBride for a month leading up to the Tyson fight, which by the way was the finale of Tyson's career. The proposed film was never made, but McBride stuck in Weinstein's head.
The Boston-based fighter was slated to fight Tomasz Adamek in New Jersey in April 2011, so Weinstein revisited the man and his plight. "Many people wanted me to make the Hollywood version of this story, however I had no interest in this," he said. "What drew me to McBride was the ability to explore how loss effects the psyche and the family around them."
In "I Beat," we see McBride's wife express her dismay that he keeps fighting and the boxer admits that his speaking clarity has declined and makes it hard for his kids to understand him. Yet, he carries on, hopeful that he will land that one punch to re-inflate his dream.
"What interested me about making this film was to examine if one moment really affects your entire life," Weinstein said. "There are so many assumptions about money, fame, and success, but I Beat Mike Tyson shows the reality. Days after that fight McBride told me that he was so drunk that he did not even remember getting on a flight and ending up in Ireland. Fame like this can kill a man. Thankfully seven years later, McBride made it through the grinder in one piece, he has two beautiful children, and a wonderful wife."
See, there's some silver lining present. I was left, though, thinking that even if a guy like McBride can pass the physicals and medicals to secure a fight, a simple comparison test of speaking clarity, from the start of a career to the present, should perhaps disqualify them from getting a license to fight.
Weinstein has put together a short and not overly sweet story which leaves a viewer pondering the subject, McBride, and the existence of the sport. This is recommended viewing.
Here is the film: