For some, June 27 is simply another day on the calendar, seven days away from the next recognized holiday and the next holiday off from work. For sports fans, especially ones who are familiar with boxing, June 27 is a memorable day. For hip-hop fans, especially ones from the state of Texas, it has memorable meaning as well.
In regards to the former, 25 years ago today, 21-year-old Mike Tyson, with his 34-0 record with 30 wins by knockout, made his way down the aisle of the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City to take on reigning undefeated world champion, Michael “The Jinx” Spinks, for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. One of the first things that comes to mind about that particular night was the look on Michael Spinks’ face as he made that long walk to the ring. He gave off a sense of bravado that an undefeated champion possesses, and it’s hard to blame him.
He came in with a 31-0 record, a gold medal from the 1976 Olympics and a championship belt around his waist. Plus, he was getting $13 million that night. No reason to trip, right? Walking into an arena with people shouting your name can make anyone stick his chest out and think he has a shot, as Spinks did on his way to the ring. However, looking back at it as an adult, it was easy to tell that Michael Spinks knew he was toast well before he got to the ring.
As for Mike Tyson, well, the music, or the sound, he came out to was just … eerie. The sound which accompanied his entrance can’t be adequately described. On top of that, watching Tyson come to the ring, with people all around him, with the walk being so long, hell, I was scared for Spinks and I wasn’t even the one fighting. By the time Tyson got into the ring, he knew it was over, and even though this particular interview is not in relation to this fight, it might as well be.
Another thing about this night: The star power was unreal. Jack Nicholson, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan all in attendance to watch this thing (go to the 6:25 portion of this clip until the 6:54 portion). Arguably the biggest celebrity sports fan of all time in Jack? Arguably the king of the NBA, and fresh off a repeat in the NBA Finals in Magic? On top of that, the future royalty of the NBA in Jordan? Are you kidding me? June 27 had all the makings of one of the greatest and most memorable nights in the history of sports. Hell, even if the fight turned out to be a dud (which, to me, it wasn’t), the star power alone would make it worth talking about 25 years later.
Some people think a 91-second fight is a waste of everyone’s time, but they miss the larger point. The fight was so swift, so vicious, so thunderous and so explosive that people still reference it like it happened yesterday. There’s no point in breaking it down. It would actually take more time to write a recap than it would to just watch the video above in its entirety. It was that quick, yet that breathtaking.
As for the other reason June 27 is appreciated, it’s simple: “June 27″ is arguably one of the greatest hip-hop songs in the history of Texas rap, but the thing is this — it’s not merely a song, it’s a freestyle, and not only is it a freestyle, the damn thing is 35 minutes long! The first time I heard this joint, I was at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, a small blip in the country and a place where it seems like folks from Dallas who were my age and folks from Houston who were my age were thrown together in a small town to go to school, get an education and find a way to co-exist.
One of the ways we co-existed was through listening to screw tapes all damn day, and this song here helped bring all of us together. As a Dallas resident who has basically been reared to hate all things Houston, this is the one thing I pay homage to on a regular basis. It can be in the middle of a workday or on a four-hour road trip. The backdrop can be in the midst of a workout in the gym at 6 in the morning or sitting around the house just relaxing. This freestyle is so versatile that it can be listened to anytime and you’re still bound to be live, or as my brethren say “crunk,” or as my students like to say, “turnt up.”
June 27 brought two performances from two specters of entertainment that are regularly intertwined: music and sports. The link between the two is something that Ed has explored in the past, and June 27 serves as another example of how the two, regardless of how they’re linked, forge a union that has the ability to withstand the test of time.