‘Slumdog’ visits Mumbai slum
Tyson – who grew up in Brooklyn slum himself – meets excited kids of Dharavi
Mumbai: Thirteen-year-old Dharavi resident Humera Sheikh had never heard of boxing legend Mike Tyson before his entry in Mumbai on his first ever visit to India.
It was only a day before on Friday that she had seen images of Iron Mike, as Tyson is fondly called, on news channels while arriving in the city to inaugurate a mixed martial art tourney — Kumite 1 League.
On Saturday afternoon, Humera was informed by her teachers that Tyson would be visiting her school, the Kala Killa Marathi School in Dharavi.
She may not have been his fan or seen Tyson’s famous fights including the controversial ear-biting bout against Evander Holyfield, but Humera was still excited to catch a glimpse of the superstar from the US, someone her teachers had been talking about for the entire day.
And boy didn’t Tyson live up to that hype.
With a convoy of three to four SUVs, 20-30 bodyguards and police personnel around him, Tyson entered Dharavi in his inimitable style, leaving the waiting students floored.
Ever since Tyson landed in Mumbai, his wish was to pay a visit to the slums of the city, having grown up in the slums of Brooklyn, New York, himself.
On Saturday, Tyson – who labelled himself a ‘slumdog’ a day before – made a point to drop by Dharavi, one of the biggest slums of Asia.
The American met the Mumbai Municipal Corporation school kids on a sultry afternoon and inspired them with his mere 10-minute presence, though he could not get to speak to the kids due to the chaos.
Having made it to the top of the boxing world despite a troubled chilhood spent in the Brooklyn slums, Tyson’s tale is of inspiration and defying odds. In Mumbai, he voiced his love for people who lived in the ghettos and how they can go on to conquer the boxing world. “I think the poorer you are the better boxer you are. The most successful fighters have come from slums. All the fighters who come from the slums are successful. All the current top fighters are from the slums,” Tyson said on Friday.
Meena Nalavade, the headmistress of the school, couldn’t hide her joy of witnessing her hero Tyson.
“Of course, I have seen his fights,” she said. “I really liked him. He was very down to earth. Unfortunately he could not get to speak, but the kids really enjoyed his presence. We had told them about who Tyson was after we came to know about his arrival in the morning,” she added.
Humera, too, was excited about the fact that she got an opportunity to meet Tyson, something she be boasting to her friends and family about. “I am really happy to see him,” she said.
It didn’t matter that a few kids didn’t know who Tyson was at all, but each one of them was happy at seeing a sporting legend in their slums.
“Pata nahi kaun hai, par bahut achcha laga dekh ke unko (Didn’t know who is was but it was a nice to see him),” said Mahesh Palkar.
While Tyson’s wish of visiting Dharavi might have come true, was he satisfied with his 10-minute visit? “He is very happy,” said Mohammed Ali Budhwani, the promoter of Kumite 1 League and the person who managed to bring ‘The Baddest Man on The Planet’ to India.
I really liked him. He was very down to earth. Unfortunately he could not get to speak, but the kids really enjoyed his presence. Meena Nalavade, Headmistress of school
Boxing legend Mike Tyson is greeted by children on his visit to BMC school in Dharavi slums in Mumbai on Saturday
Tyson waves to his fans in Dharavi; (below) American boxer signs a cheque as kids look on