We traveled far into the deepest recesses of Gujarat; far from Ahmedabad, the mega-city that it was. Our journey took us to places where blacks (African Americans) had never been – at least not physically. They were represented in some manner, through the television and radio - even the internet had not yet made it here yet. Exactly which African Americans made it out there (i.e., were known to the locals) was the subject of the next story. Interestingly, my presence resulted in a bizarre chain of events as we evidently had someone running between the villages announcing that … "Mike Tyson" is coming.
In the first village, I was asked if I was Mike Tyson (the boxer once known for knocking everyone out in 5 seconds but later known for biting a piece of Evander Hollyfield’s ear). I said no. My name is Chris.
In the second village, it was assumed that I was Mike Tyson and I was asked how my fighting career was going. I said that I did not fight and repeated my name. They did not buy it. They just thought I was trying to be low key.
By the sixth village, I gave up the Chris business and played along and, asked to do something, I threw a jab and everyone smiled, cheering “Iron Mike, Iron Mike, Iron Mike.” I wondered how they knew the phrase. You are never quite sure what gets where or how. Regardless, the crowd was happy; the former world champion had visited their village.
At the tenth village, someone asked me if I would stop a local bully. It was said that he looked like me. I was a little scared and even a little tempted but I did not pursue the matter. Although everyone around me seemed 4 foot 3, you never know what the Indian Iron Mike would look like or what he would do when challenged.
At the thirteenth village, it was said that I bit the ears of my opponents when I fought. I denied it and said that when I fight, I fight clean. These were just rumors from those that feared me.
At the sixteenth village, it was thought that I just bit off people’s ears when I wanted to – in and out of the ring. The children would not greet me and the older folks kept to themselves.
Upon our arrival in the seventeenth village, we found that it was completely empty. Having heard that Mike Tyson, the man-eater, was coming the villagers had vacated. Realizing where this was going and that it could only get worse, we headed back to Ahmedabad.
Note: I admit that the last village was not completely empty and that it was due to my presence. There had been some local incident and people had moved to do something.