The first time I met Mike Tyson was outside the VIP lounge at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, in the fall of 1988.
I was traveling with Canadian heavyweight contender Ken Lakusta and as we waited for a connecting flight, Iron Mike emerged from a media maelstrom on the adjoining concourse and made a beeline for the nearest security exit.
But when he saw Lakusta, a one-time sparring partner, the self-declared 'Baddest Man on the Planet' did an abrupt about-face and rushed over to greet us with bear hugs, like we were long lost relatives.
"You believe this?" he lisped in that high-pitched Brooklyn twang, gesturing at the horde of reporters.
"It's the same thing everywhere I go. They're gonna drive me crazy!"
Fast forward two years. Tyson, now a force of nature the likes of which boxing hadn't witnessed since Sonny Liston's reign of terror, was in Edmonton, Canada, training for a title defense against Razor Ruddock.
A palatial private estate had been rented for the champ and his entourage, and on the night they took possession I was invited to go along for the ride.
Having conducted a lengthy interview with Tyson in the limo, I assumed our time together was over. He'd been alternately surly and surprisingly candid during our 40-minute chat, but when we arrived at the estate he graciously asked if I'd like to watch some fight films with his crew.
A big box of VHS cassettes materialized, and for the next couple of hours, as grainy images of Liston, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Jack Dempsey danced across the screen, the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history held court, expertly analyzing and critiquing what we were watching.
Shortly after the last video ended, Tyson the erudite analyst was replaced by his more familiar - and menacing - thug persona when an offhand comment from one of his cronies triggered a tangent about "media parasites". It was my cue to make a judicious exit.
In retrospect, that night was a mini foreshadowing of Tyson's 30-year odyssey from shy fistic prodigy to Public Enemy No 1, global pop culture icon, Broadway headliner and B movie actor.