Ok, was I really gone? Yes, I was. I was out in television land making a wacky show for MTV that, by the time you’re reading this, you may have already seen. Now that I think of it, maybe this means that you may have bought this magazine due to the fact that you’ve seen me on MTV. Son of a bitch. I need a raise. If I am new to you, here’s what you missed: I’m a bit crazy; I have a red stripe on my head; I have a cult of “Mayhem Monkeys” who are anti-boredom and pro-random; and although I have fought all over the planet, I recently took a sabbatical to climb Mt. Takao, in Japan, and meditate for a long while to center my chi. But now I’m back, baby, and ain’t no mountain gonna to stop me from infl icting some pain on whatever man stands across from me in the ring!
After my oft-called “fake retirement,” I am ready to bash everyone and their brother, and that parking lot attendant who said something snide as I walked by. By the time this magazine comes out, I will have already fought in Hawaii for the spanking brand-new “Kingdom” promotion. They should invent some way for people to read the words I write as soon as I write them, and to comment instantly, and to comment on the comments, and then argue back and forth before they lose interest in my petty grievances and start surfi ng around for porn. I would prefer it be called the “Mayhem.net” in my honor.
What was I talking about before? Oh, yeah. This TV show is bananas. And it was a good reason for me to retire temporarily from fi ghting. Why? Because it has to do with something I truly love—fi ghting—and because I get to do what I do naturally, with little to no effort: be out of my fucking mind.
Now, it is reality TV, and I will let you in on a little secret: Reality TV is fairly to moderately real, but there are certain times when you have to repeat the exact thing that you have just said, this time to a bunch of chubby and/or weird guys with cameras and microphones hustling around you; or you have to restate something and include someone’s name; or you have to scoot over six inches and say everything all over again. Or you have to “turn up the crazy Mayhem.” Or you have to stand in front of everyone while a sweet little lady swipes a paintbrush over the sweat that forms on your upper lip every time you get heated up in the goddamn leather jacket that they stick you in and start yelling while driving the douche-bag hummer that they make you drive, with no air conditioning because they have to check for sound.
Ok, I guess reality TV isn’t real at all. Honestly, I’d rather get punched in the face most days, which brings me back to the subject of retirement. Ask any real fi ghter when he plans to retire, and he can’t give you a legitimate answer. I have the answer, but most fi ghters, with all their bravado, strength, and focus in the arena, can’t really fi gure out or don’t have the balls to say when they will hang up the gloves for good. The high you get from standing out there in front of the crowd, ready to test the art that you’ve spent years and years honing, this craft that very few people can do with true beauty, prepared to put on this display of blood and guts, and to bare your soul in front of everyone, isn’t something you can quite capture with a golf club and a six-pack of Coronas. That’s why most every fi ghter stays on well past his prime. That and tax problems.
I got a forwarded e-mail from the great Joe Rogan (http://joerogan. net) with case studies and new evidence, including charts and graphs, basically saying that getting hit in the head is not good for you. Thank you, Joe. I was unaware of this. I now use slightly more head movement. Yes, getting punched in the head is bad for me, but, like alcohol, unprotected sex, and driving 125 on the 405 freeway, it’s pretty damn fun. Now, if I wasn’t into risky behavior, I would never have signed up to obtain a smashed up nose, puffed out ears, and more surgeries than you can shake a crutch at. I love this job. I get to be magic for one night, and every fi ghter has to feel this same way in one form or another. Plus, getting hit is the original hard drug. I can remember after a particularly hard sparring session with T*U teammates Tiki Ghosn, Rob McCullough, and Rampage Jackson, eating lunch and just guffawing at almost nothing, just cracking up like a bunch of paint sniffers at a Krylon convention. Now that is fun, but what are we giving up really? Same as when you get liquored up hardcore every weekend, the brain starts to deteriorate and eventually we become Freddie Roach, Muhammed Ali, or one of the many men who lived for the glory one too many times. It’s like the unspoken thing in the fi ght biz: We give up our bodies for the enjoyment of the masses.
If you haven’t seen The Wrestler yet, see it. If the damn Academy wasn’t so keen on politics, I think that Mickey Rourke playing a washed up pro wrestler would’ve won over Sean Penn playing a homo-mayor wiener. I won’t ruin the movie for you, but the theme ended up being that the “Wrestler” basically gave up every single aspect of his life for the sake of entertaining the masses. Crazy, right? Well, it happens, and the giant elephant in the room is a shaking and twitching Ali, who used to be the best smack talker and wildest promotion machine to step in front of the camera; who, because he just couldn’t step out of the spotlight, out of the glory, out of the ring, is now reduced to someone that can’t put a few words together. He did this for you. You all wanted to see it, he kept on showing you. Just like my scarred-up face. But don’t cry for me, Argentina. I knew that there was some risk involved, and so did Ali. Combat sports have been around for centuries, as least as far back as the great Roman sculpture The Pugilist at Rest. We knew the consequences. If you’ve never seen the statue, it is quite glorious. It’s an ancient boxer, seated in a bit of a tired, slumped posture, elbows resting on his knees, his hands still wrapped in leather bands, looking up from his heavily scarred brow and caulifl ower ears. We all know the consequences, and yet we still go forward. I’m willing to bet that “The Pugilist” would still do it all again, just as “The Wrestler” did, just as I would, and will continue to do.
“When will you retire, Mayhem?” “When no one wants to see me fi ght anymore.”