TIME celebrities

Mickey Rourke Out-Boxes 29-Year-Old in Return to Ring

Mickey Rourke
US actor Mickey Rourke kisses his glove after beating his opponent Elliot Seymour of the United States, during their professional boxing match at the Luzhniki Stadium, in Moscow on Nov. 28, 2014. Denis Tyrin—AP

The actor says the sport 'sort of saved me from myself'

Actor Mickey Rourke, 62, defeated a 29-year-old opponent in an exhibition boxing match in Moscow Friday.

The Wrestler star hadn’t participated in a boxing match in more than 20 years, the BBC reports, when injuries resulted in corrective surgeries to his face that significantly altered his appearance. While Rourke didn’t explain his decision to return to the ring, he has said that boxing “sort of saved me from myself.”

“I’m very happy to be back to the boxing ring. Thank God for letting me do this,” he said before the fight.

Rourke’s opponent, Elliot Seymour, is a former California Golden Gloves champion.

[BBC]

TIME Boxing

Mike Tyson Says He Was Sexually Abused as a Child

Nevada Boxing Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony
Mike Tyson at the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, Aug. 9, 2014 in Las Vegas. Ethan Miller—Getty Images

Says an older man "bullied me, sexually abused me"

If you heard that Mike Tyson was visiting Opie and Jim Norton, you’d expect some kind of debauched conversation to take place that was suitable only for a satellite radio audience. Instead, Tyson opened up about his past in a candid and heartfelt way, discussing how an incident from his youth may have shaped him as a man going forward, even if he doesn’t exactly know how.

In his interview, seen below, Tyson discussed how he was snatched up at seven years old by an older man who ‘bullied me, sexually abused me and stuff … snatched me off the street. I was a little kid. Never seen him again.’

One of the saddest parts is toward the end where Tyson claims he doesn’t know how the incident even affected or shaped his youth, and that going back down to examine those times can be a hard, lonely process.

Tyson lived in poverty as a child and never reported this incident, preferring instead to live with it on his own. Given the roller coaster ride that has been Mike Tyson since the early 1990s, it seems the effects of his abuse are incalculable. At least now, years and years removed from this harrowing time, the former heavyweight champion can look back with honesty and perhaps begin to understand how this may have shaped him.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Sports

How Muhammad Ali Won the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’

Rumble in the Jungle illustration
An illustration from TIME's Sept. 23, 1974, fight preview Illustration for TIME by Robert Handeville

The historic fight took place 40 years ago, on Oct. 30, 1974

When TIME sent Nairobi Bureau Chief Lee Griggs to Kinshasa in 1974 to preview the Oct. 30 boxing match that became known as “The Rumble in the Jungle,” it seemed clear that the winning money was not on the favorite. The bout between reigning champion George Foreman and Muhammad Ali, who had previously lost the title after refusing to be drafted into the military, came with the biggest purse in sports history. Both boxers were guaranteed at least $5 million but — though boxing fans worldwide, and especially in the country then called Zaire, were rooting hard for Ali — it seemed clear that Foreman would be the one going home with the title. He was younger and strong and on a winning streak. He would back Ali into the ropes, where the older boxer’s footwork would do no good. TIME’s sports editor Philip Taubman predicted that the result would be Foreman in six.

When the fight actually went down — 40 years ago Thursday, after a delay of about a month from its originally planned September date — that did not happen. Though Foreman went after Ali just as predicted, the results were far from what had been expected.

Here’s what did happen, as TIME reported in the Nov. 11, 1974, issue:

Then, in the second round, the bee unexpectedly threw away the tactics of his entire career. Off his toes and seemingly off his rocker, Ali stood along the ropes, exactly where Foreman wants an opponent to be. Indeed, with his customary authority, Foreman started pounding punches against Ali’s midsection. Some of Foreman’s blows glanced off Ali’s arms and gloves, and none hit Ali’s face, but it seemed to be only a matter of time before Ali’s belly would turn to pulp.

Astonishingly, Ali seemed hardly concerned. As the fiercest puncher since Sonny Liston whaled away, Ali shouted taunts at Foreman. “You can’t hurt me!” Ali yelled. “You punch like a sissy.” Soon it became clear that Ali had constructed a trap. All summer and fall he had been developing granite abdominal muscles with a grueling regimen of calisthenics, spending an hour every morning hardening his gut by doing sit-ups with his legs held up at a 45 degree angle or while his limbs were pumping back and forth in a bicycle-pedaling motion. Now he was simply letting Foreman punch himself out against that iron flesh. “I wanted to make him shoot his best shots,” said Ali later.

That is precisely what Foreman did. In the sultry tropical night (the temperature was 86° and the humidity about 90%), Foreman’s punches soon lost power. Arm weary, he began to swing wildly, frequently missing entirely, spinning around on his own momentum like a worn-out drunk. Ali took advantage of Foreman’s slack defense by springing off the ropes time after time to jolt the bone-tired champ with lightning combinations to the head.

By giving up on the “floating like a butterfly” that had made his career, Muhammad Ali won the match in the eighth round.

Read TIME’s run-up to the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ here, in the archives: Violent Coronation in Kinshasa

TIME celebrities

Justin Bieber Gets Boxing Lessons from Floyd Mayweather

Mayweather wrote on Twitter that he had a "good time"

Justin Bieber is getting boxing tips from world champion fighter Floyd Mayweather.

The 20-year-old singer posted a shirtless video to his Instagram account, in which he tosses practice punches in Mayweather’s direction and ducks the boxer’s slow returns.

No word on why Bieber is training to fight or why a world champion boxer would give lessons to a pop star, but given the celebrities’ numerous posts to social media, they both seemed to enjoy it. Mayweather wrote on Twitter that he had a “good time.”

TIME

Ali, Frazier and the ‘Fight of the Century': A Photographer Remembers

After refusing to register for the draft in 1967 — at the very height of his career — 25-year-old Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight championship title and endured a forced layoff from the ring for three years. In 1971, after winning the appeal of his conviction and five-year prison sentence before the U.S. Supreme Court, the former champ returned to boxing, fighting a few bouts against lesser (albeit ranked) rivals before facing the title-holder, Philadelphia’s “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier.

Long before the first bell of their March 1971 fight sounded, the contest was billed as “The Fight of the Century” and, amazingly, it lived up to the hype. That night, a star-studded crowd watched two of the greatest fighters who ever lived battle for supremacy in the world’s premier sports arena.

John Shearer—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
John Shearer—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Frazier had earned the heavyweight belt a year earlier. “I often felt bad for Joe,” photographer John Shearer told LIFE.com, recalling the weeks and months he spent with both fighters before the bout at New York’s Madison Square Garden. “He was completely miscast as the bad guy in the fight. In so many of the pictures I made of him that winter, when he’s with friends and relaxed, there’s something genuinely charming there — but something in his face suggests that if you scratched the surface, you’d find a world of other feelings.”

“The pictures I made of Ali training in Chris Dundee’s Miami Beach gym, meanwhile, are incredibly revealing in another way,” Shearer said, “not least because you can see that Ali had a belly. And this is not all that long before the fight. He just wasn’t in the kind of shape he needed to be in to battle a warrior like Joe Frazier.”

Many of Shearer’s photos of Frazier — including several in this gallery — make the clear case that Frazier simply wanted the title more than Ali. He was fighting, scratching and clawing for it long before the two men stepped into the ring.

“When I see the pictures I made of Joe running by himself, for example,” Shearer says, “the one thing that strikes me, maybe even more now than when I was making the photos, is his discipline. He was training, training, training. He was driven. And in many ways, he was a man alone.”

“That fight was the last time Ali took Joe for granted,” Shearer says. “I wonder if, deep down, he hit a point in Miami where he looked for that fire, that drive, and it just wasn’t there. You know — you want to fight, you want to hold that title belt again, but you can’t make yourself run those extra few miles at five in the morning, or spar for twenty more minutes every single day.”

Another aspect of Frazier that Shearer captured before the title belt was his creative self. Frazier was a singer and a performer, with his own band — and with his own backup singers, the Knockouts — and the truth is, he wasn’t bad.

“The two places Frazier communicates best,” wrote LIFE’s Thomas Thompson in a March 1971 cover story for the magazine, “are in the ring, when a cloak of menace and fury drops over him, and on a nightclub stage, where he sings with strength and sincerity.”

“The image of Frazier remained, unfairly and for the longest time, that he was just another fighter,” says Shearer. “That he was just another guy with his nose pushed off to the side of his face. But he felt, strongly, that he was every bit as articulate as Ali and, as importantly, perhaps, that he was every bit the showman that Ali was.”

As for the bout itself, one of the key factors that ratcheted up the rhetoric was the record purse offered both fighters. As LIFE observed in its March 5, 1971 issue: “[Ali] and Frazier are both going to get $2.5 million the morning after the fight whether anybody comes or not. A flat $2.5 million. Guaranteed. The most money ever paid to any man for a maximum 45 minutes’ work.”

“It was electric in the Garden the night of the fight,” Shearer remembers. “It was the night of the great showdown between the era’s two gladiators, and there was a sense that the unprecedented hype for the fight might actually fall short of the reality. And, remember, without a doubt it was a very, very pro-Ali crowd. They all came to see him win, to see him destroy Joe Frazier.”

That’s not the way it worked out, though. The relentless, punishing Frazier stalked and pummeled Ali all night, and in the 15th and final round floored him, for only the third time in Ali’s career, with an absolutely titanic left hook. Ali got back on his feet quickly, but the damage, literally and figuratively, had been done. Frazier won by unanimous decision, and held on to the crown until losing it in spectacular fashion to George Foreman two years later, in 1973.

“Frazier didn’t fight by going for the head, the way a lot of other boxers did against Ali,” Shearer remembers. “He went after Ali’s body the whole fight, pounding away, taking terrible blows to the head himself. You know, you keep whacking at the base of the tree, and the tree is going to come down. And that’s what happened. That’s really the story of that first, unforgettable fight between those two great champions.”

— Ben Cosgrove is the Editor of LIFE.com

TIME Boxing

Don’t Forget, You Can Also Boycott Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather Jr. Media Workout
Floyd Mayweather Jr. arrives for a workout at the Mayweather Boxing Club on September 2, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mayweather Jr. will defend his WBC/WBA welterweight titles against Marcos Maidana on September 13 in Las Vegas. Eric Jamison—Getty Images

Convicted abuser set to make over $30 million from boxing match this weekend says NFL got it wrong on Ray Rice

Sadly, it took the Ray Rice video to expose another very troubling sports character to a larger audience. Over the years you might not have given much thought to Floyd Mayweather Jr., often called the “best-pound-for-pound fighter on the planet,” given that boxing is largely irrelevant.

A quick primer: He’s never lost a fight. He’s very rich. He has twice pleaded guilty to attacking women, and spent two months in jail for domestic battery in 2012. He’s been accused of battering women several other times. His ex-fiancee filed a civil suit against him last week, in which she accuses him of assaulting her.

Now Mayweather is defending the NFL’s original two-game suspension of Rice, who attacked fiancee Janay Palmer—now his wife—in February and was dropped by the Baltimore Ravens this week after video of the assault was made public. “I think there’s a lot worse things that go on in other people’s households, also,” Mayweather told a group of reporters Thursday. “It’s just not caught on video, if that’s safe to say.”

He also said he’s been falsely accused of domestic attacks.”Like I’ve said in the past, no bumps, no bruises, no nothing,” Mayweather said. “With O.J. and Nicole, you seen pictures. With Chris Brown and Rihanna, you seen pictures… You guys have yet to see any pictures of a battered woman, a woman who says she was kicked and beaten [by Mayweather]. So I just live my life and try to stay positive, and try to become a better person each and every day.”

In advance of Mayweather’s next fight, this Saturday, the Washington Post‘s Rick Maese penned an illuminating profile of the champion fighter. In discussing his criminal past, Mayweather actually mentions two civil rights icons:

“Malcolm X been to jail; Martin Luther King been to jail. The list goes on and on. You live and you learn. But I think the main thing, I think people should just learn from the mistakes that are made. And I’m not saying that when I went to jail it was a mistake. But things happen and you live and you learn.”

While Rice may never play in the NFL again, and fans are boycotting merchandise with his name on it, Mayweather isn’t doing too badly for himself. For Saturday’s fight, the boxer will likely net $30 million no matter what. Ticket sales, and pay-per-view purchases of $65 to $75, will bring him millions more.

“Whether you pay to see me win or pay to see me lose, I’m the smart one at the end of the day,” Mayweather told Maese, “because you pay me.”

Perhaps that’s a payment worth skipping.

TIME Basketball

Manny Pacquiao Has Been Drafted by the Basketball Squad He Coaches

BASKET-BOX-PHI-PACQUIAO
Manny Pacquiao dribbles during a practice session with the Kia Motors team in Manila on August 15, 2014. Jay Directo — AFP/Getty Images

And you thought he was just a boxing legend, politician, actor and singer

Manny Pacquiao has many titles — boxing legend, third-term Congressman, movie star, pop singer and professional basketball coach.

Wait, make that basketball player-coach.

Pacman, as he’s dubbed, was picked up as a player by the Philippine Basketball Association’s Kia Motors team in the first round of Sunday’s draft, according to Sports Illustrated. There are no firm reports on how much sway Pacquiao actually has over the team’s selections, but he has been Kia’s coach since June, according to Bleacher Report.

The Internet responded to the news in jocular fashion.

The 35-year-old icon might have seen his stint as a player coming, however. One Philippine news source claimed earlier this week that the boxer-Congressman had literally dreamed about dominating the basketball court and dunking over his rivals three years ago.

Considering the welterweight is only 5 ft. 6 in. tall, the dunking part is likely to remain a dream.

TIME Boxing

Boxing Promoter Frank Maloney Reveals Gender Change

"Living with the burden any longer would have killed me."

Frank Maloney, the boxing promoter who guided Lennox Lewis to a world heavyweight title, has revealed he now lives as a woman named Kellie and is undergoing gender reassignment surgery.

“I was born in the wrong body and I have always known I was a woman,” Kellie said in an interview with British newspaper The Sunday Mirror. “What was wrong at birth is now being medically corrected. I have a female brain. I knew I was different from the minute I could compare myself to other children.”

Maloney, 61, retired from involvement in boxing last October and led several fighters to titles, including Lennox Lewis.

Maloney ran for mayor of London as a candidate for the rightwing UK Independence Party in 2004, and was condemned for making homophobic remarks during his campaign. He refused to campaign in the borough of Camden, saying there were “too many gays” there.

“I don’t think they [gay people] do a lot for society. I don’t have a problem with gays, what I have a problem with is them openly flaunting their sexuality,” Maloney said at the time. “I’m more for traditional family values and family life.” He lost his bid for mayor, capturing less than 3% of the vote.

In her interview with the Mirror, Maloney said, “I can’t keep living in the shadows, that is why I am doing what I am today. Living with the burden any longer would have killed me.”

[The Sunday Mirror]

 

TIME Thailand

Thailand’s Prisoners Fight Foreigners in Attempt to Win Freedom

A competition called "Prison Fight" backed by Thailand's Department of Corrections allows inmates to fight foreign opponents in organized matches. Victory brings them money, glory and, perhaps, a chance at freedom — though fighting skills are taken into account, so are factors like good behavior and time served

TIME cities

Madonna Donates to Detroit After ‘Inspiring’ Visit

Madonna to return to film directing
Yui Mok—AP

The pop icon is giving money to a boxing gym and a charter school in her troubled hometown

Madonna is donating money to support youth in her hometown of Detroit after being “inspired by the progress she’s witnessed thus far after a recent visit,” the pop star announced in a press release Tuesday.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee will donate funding toward a new facility for Detroit’s Downtown Boxing Gym—where the kids, she says, have a 100% high school graduation rate—and the Detroit Achievement Academy charter school, which she’ll buy “new equipment, art and music supplies including speakers, iPods, iPads and Smart Boards for each classroom.”

Racked by years of decay and a faltering economy, Detroit is currently undergoing the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Madonna called this “the first phase of a long-term commitment” to invest in the Motor City.

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