‘Slum­dog’ vis­its Mum­bai slum

Tyson – who grew up in Brook­lyn slum him­self – meets ex­cited kids of Dhar­avi

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - SP RT - Taus Rizvi

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

—HEMANT PADALKAR/DNA

Boxing leg­end Mike Tyson is greeted by chil­dren on his visit to BMC school in Dhar­avi slums in Mum­bai on Satur­day

—HEMANT PADALKAR/DNA

Tyson waves to his fans in Dhar­avi; (be­low) Amer­i­can boxer signs a cheque as kids look on

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