I logged onto my BT homepage this morning and was greeted by a particularly fetching photo of the ‘baddest man on the planet’. What shocked me at first is how with age Mike’s face is starting to resemble a picture of a slimmer and slightly lighter version of the late Michael Clarke Duncan with some bad graffiti sprayed on the top right corner. The real surprise however came in the form of the tagline which proudly read ‘Tyson forced to deny sex change claims’, am I joking? I wish I was.
The tagline concerns a man who once bit a human beings ear off, told a sports reporter that his ‘style is impetuous’ and his ‘defence is impregnable’, didn’t bat an eyelid when his wife who was apparently four months pregnant hadn’t put on a pound and told reporters after winning a fight against fringe contender Clifford Etienne that his back was broken. Despite these insane accolades among others the headline was surprising and I simply had to investigate. Has the world gone mad? No, but it seems like a portion of the African media has.
The concept of a Mike Tyson sex change was originally put forward as a spoof in November on NewsBiscuit.com. Clearly the Zimbabwe Standard didn’t feel like they had much to report on at the time as instead of taking it as the joke it was clearly intended to be they published the story as fact on 9th December 2012. The madness continues as not only did the story receive wide spread distribution through the publication it was also picked up and spread by website Zambia Watchdog and by 11th December had been published on SpyGhana’s official website as well. As of right now there is likely a portion of the Zimbabwean, Zambian and Ghanaian population who are expecting a cross between Big Momma, Clarke Duncan and Godzilla to step off the plane the next time Iron Mike comes to town. How disappointed they will be.
The story is of course false. Tyson was seen on TV as a spectator at the Pacquiao-Marquez fight last Saturday and if he has in fact had the treatment the Zimbabwe Standard claims then he’d be best advised to up his dosages or seek a refund. Tyson himself had this to say on the whole fiasco “I am still a man and I have always been fully in touch with my masculinity and have no intention of becoming a woman. The claims are not only untrue but unbelievably stupid. I was at the Pacquiao-Marquez fight on Saturday and any reasonable person could tell I was looking like a man.” Well put Mr Tyson.
I find this whole story to be absurd, not just for the ridiculousness of the story but for how it managed to get published in the first place. During my three years as a Media Studies and Communications student we had facts about Media Law and all the dos and don’ts of the print industry thrown at us like stale confetti on an almost daily basis. Granted I slept through a number of these classes as at the time I lived the kind of life that would have had Russell Brand telling me to “maybe take a day off”. However I have to assume that somewhere at one of these publications a figure of authority must have felt the need to step in. The claims of a sex change are completely baseless and getting them from an internet spoof is about as credible as simply dreaming them up in your own mind.
As a 22 year old with two minimum wage jobs, barely enough disposable income to scratch my backside with and more ‘we regrettably inform you’ emails from companies offering work based on my degree than Paul Mason has had hot dinners I find the whole thing rather insane. I can’t get work but rest assured I wouldn’t send a story like that to my editor, or is that perhaps where me and so many others are going wrong?..
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section and many thanks for reading.