MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Mike Tyson is staying in some former University of Memphis quarterback's private home outside of town, but is there any doubt that if Elvis were still alive, 911 Mike would be spending his time at Graceland, shooting out televisions and eating peanut butter and fried banana sandwiches with the King?
If there was ever a marriage of fame and misery, it would have been Elvis and 911 Mike - both larger than life figures (in Elvis' case, larger than two lives) tortured by inner demons. They would have been soulmates, sharing each other's stories of how they were victimized by their fame and how all they wanted was to be left alone. Then they would take Elvis' gun collection, hop into his green Cadillac convertible, and drive around town shooting at reporters and singing, "In the Ghetto."
It would have been like King Kong and Godzilla on a cocaine binge together in Japan.
Elvis had more than a passing interest in boxing. He was on the boxing team at Humes High School, if only for a brief period. Walt Doxey, the school boxing coach, is quoted on one Elvis Web site as saying, "Elvis came out for the boxing team. I put him in the ring against Sambo Barrom and this guy bloodied Elvis' nose pretty good. Then Elvis came to me and said, 'Coach, I hate to tell you this, but I'm quitting the team. I'm a lover, not a fighter.'"
Elvis' boxing gloves are on display at Graceland.
He would later play a fighter in a 1962 film, "Kid Galahad," and was trained for the fight scenes by former welterweight champion Mushy Callahan.
Elvis and Muhammad Ali were friends. He would visit Ali at the fighter's Deer Lake, Pa., training camp. Ali once told a story about how he and Elvis sneaked into a nearby redneck bar, and Elvis ran on the stage to sing a quick verse of "Hound Dog" and then ran out of the bar together. Elvis said, 'Champ, I've never done that before in my life.'"
Another time, when Mike Douglas was visiting Ali at Deer Lake, Elvis had heard Douglas was at Deer Lake, and he called the camp to apologize for shooting out his television set while the Mike Douglas show was on. According to George Dillman, Ali's martial arts teacher who now owns the camp, Elvis wanted to let Douglas know that he wasn't mad at him. He was mad at a guest on the show who had said something about him.
Just another misunderstood act of violence. 911 Mike can relate to that.
They are keeping 911 Mike on a short leash here, fearful that any contact with any human being - or reporter - would result in, of course, a call to 911 and the end of his big showdown with heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis Saturday night at the Pyramid arena. On Sunday, before entering a fitness center for a workout, 911 Mike encountered a group of demonstrators who were shouting "stop homophobia" at him and waving signs.
911 Mike walked over to the demonstrators, and the stage appeared to be set for disaster. But instead 911 Mike hugged one of the demonstrators and said he was not homophobic. And when he left after his workout, 911 Mike rolled down the window of the sports utility vehicle he was riding in and said, "Listen, listen, I'm not homophobic. I told them I'm not homophobic. So if I use a homophobic term I'm not homophobic."
Yesterday, when he arrived at the fitness center, 911 Mike signed some autographs and asked, "Where's my homosexual friends?"
Today, 911 Mike is supposed to have a workout session at a Tunica, Miss., casino that is open to the media. We'll see. This has been an on-again, off-again decision on whether 911 Mike will be allowed to have contact with the outside world.
What promoters should definitely do, though, is schedule a tour of Graceland for 911 Mike. It's quite the spectacle.
In gift shops, you can find Elvis shirts, hats, candles, salt shakers, silverware, music boxes, thimbles, clocks, key chains, ties, plaques and a version of Elvis monopoly, among the many trinkets available. You can even find Elvis himself, in a souvenir wand with the following sales pitch: "Can you find Elvis? He is inside the magic wand."
So that's where he's been hiding.
In a tour of Graceland, you can see the famed "Jungle Room," where Elvis partied like it was 1999 but missed it by 22 years (he died in 1977, and Memphis is honoring the King with a big 25th anniversary show in August). You can see the kitchen, which, according to the automated tape tour guide, "was especially busy." And outside, in the "Meditation Garden," you can see the graves of Elvis Aaron Presley, along with his father, Vernon; mother Gladys; grandmother Minnie Mae, and, which came as a shock to me, the grave of Jessie Garon Presley - Elvis' twin brother who died at childbirth.
Boxing writer Tom Hauser recently wrote on the Web site SecondsOut.com that 911 Mike visited the grave of the old-time great featherweight Abe Attell, who also was believed to be the bag man who delivered mobster Arnold Rothstein's money to the 1919 Chicago White Sox in the Black Sox scandal. 911 Mike reportedly spent six hours talking to the grave.
Elvis is dead, buried and waiting at Graceland to hear from 911 Mike.