Region: It’s Las Vegas to East Anglia for Iron Mike Tyson
12:20 13 October 2012
(C) James Bass 2012
Two decades ago he was topping the bill at a packed Hilton hotel in Las Vegas.
However, last night – quite surreally – Mike Tyson was the star turn at Gorleston’s Ocean Room more usually known for its Friday Boogie Nights.
Despite the fact his legendary fight nights were in the last millennium, he still proved a big enough draw to pack the seafront venue with fans happy to pay between £100 and £200 for a ticket – not to see him fight but to hear him talk.
The audience was perhaps inevitably dominated by thickset men with cropped hair and there were very few women there for the three-course dinner and entertainment, which included a question-and-answer session with the retired heavyweight champion.
Lowestoft’s Olympic medallist Anthony Ogogo, Norwich’s former world boxing champion Jon Thaxton and ex-Canaries footballer Darren Huckerby were among a select group of local sports stars invited.
There were excited cries of “Mike” as he walked in, surrounded by members of Team Tyson, and went over to a cordoned-off area to be photographed with his fans who were patiently queuing around the edge of the room.
Gorleston was one of the final dates in an 11-event British tour organised to promote his new biography, Mike Tyson, written by Reg Gutteridge.
While the days of him earning $30m for a fight have long since gone, it was abundantly clear that Team Tyson is still a successful money-making enterprise.
Promoter Spencer Brown was expecting a scrum of fans eager to snap up signed memorabilia, with photographs of Tyson’s distinctively tattooed face going for £55 and signed belts predicted to sell for up to £5,000.
Heartened by the success of the Tyson visit, coming hot on the heels of an appearance by fellow boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, he predicted an exciting new chapter for the Ocean Room, whose main claim to fame up to now has been a concert by Blur in their early days. He said: “We are bringing Nigel Benn here next month and we are planning to bring retired Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran over in the future.”