tyson hits Mzansi

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

The moment that everybody had been waiting for has arrived - Mike Tyson is in the country.

The 41-year-old former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world landed at the OR Tambo International Airport at about 5pm yesterday, and rushed to Emperors Palace where a throng of journalists were waiting for him.

Weeks had turned into days, which became hours and then seconds since Rodney Berman announced that "Iron Mike" would grace these shores.

When the moment finally arrived, it was cheers to the man who made headlines during his heydays by becoming the first black boxer to ever win the world heavyweight title at 21.

Clad in a grey suit, a blue shirt, a silver grey tie and black shoes, Tyson walked slowly towards the podium where he was to address the crowd.

He was sandwiched by Damon Bingham, who accompanied Laila Ali last year, and Darryl Francis. Tyson showed another picture of himself that has never been portrayed by the global media to the general public - different to the twee of labelling of him as the baddest man who ever lived on this planet.

Sharp and humorous, Tyson turned on the charm. He had everybody in stitches. Responding to a question as to how he would like to be remembered, he said: "I am just happy to be remembered."

Tyson, who is travelling throughout the world doing exhibition bouts, dismissed hopes of doing the same in South Africa.

"I no longer love it anymore, I also don't watch boxing no more except for small fights," he said, adding that he would not train fighters because the job needs great responsibilities.

"I am not ready for that, I want to dedicate my time to my kids. I am also busy with my documentary and my book."

When asked if he had a message to give to youngsters regarding the time when he was 18 years old, Tyson said: "I don't have no message. I was perfect back then."

Tyson, who was rumoured to have been swindled of millions of dollars while he was still a fighter, said he doesn't keep grudges.

"I have a relationship with everyone. You won't have happiness if you keep grudges."

Tyson is in the country to assist Golden Gloves and Emperors Palace in raising funds for charity. That will happen tonight at a gala dinner where signed boxing memorabilia will be auctioned and the proceeds donated to Sithabile Home Care Centre.

He will be at the ringside at Emperors Palace during a boxing tournament on Saturday night.