And on this side of town, shaped by a lifetime of hard lessons, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.
The youngest boxer to ever wear the heavyweight crown has arrived in northwest Manteca with a heavyweight message.
Make positive choices.
Surround yourself with people who make good decisions.
And be true to yourself.
“Iron Mike” will sit down with a select group of students today in the library at East Union High School, continuing his tour of Central Valley boxing gyms, stages and schools.
The speaking engagement will begin around 1:30 p.m. Tyson is expected to discuss the importance of decision making at a young age and the long-term effects those decisions can have, said East Union principal Raul Mora.
“It’s about making good choices, and we’re hoping he shares with us the experiences of surrounding yourself with good people,” Mora added. “It’s about being real with who you are and not following the stereotypes about what’s ‘manly.’ ”
Students invited to attend today’s presentation were selected by staff members at various school sites around the Manteca Unified School District.
The intimate setting and finite number of guests should allow for an open dialogue with the boxer-turned-entertainer.
“These are kids with an appreciation and awareness for his life lessons,” Mora said. “Kids that haven’t made the best decisions, but see the potential. There might be some athletes in there, too.”
Mora said the students that were invited had to get a parent or guardian’s consent because of the material Tyson might cover in his presentation.
Tyson rose to fame as the youngest boxer to unify all three heavyweight belts at the age of 20, establishing himself as one of the most explosive fighters to ever step between those ropes.
He won his first 19 professional bouts by knockout.
Outside of the ring, though, Tyson wasn’t as invincible. In 1992, he was convicted of rape and served three years in prison. Tyson also filed bankruptcy in 2003, despite making more than $300 million in a career that spanned three decades.
“When you’re dealing with someone somewhat controversial, you want to make sure to handle it the right way,” Mora said.
Tyson, who has rebuilt his image and empire through various movie appearances and his stage show, reached out to MUSD and Stockton Unified School District officials about engaging the youth while on tour with his one-man show, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth.”
The show played Thursday night at Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton.
Mora said Tyson won’t be paid for appearance on Friday. “He’s doing this out of the goodness of his heart,” Mora said. “He’s trying to give back a little. I think it is part of his healing process.”