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Jay Rankin

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Fight Night
by Jay Rankin   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, February 15, 2010
Posted: Monday, February 15, 2010

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A Mike Tyson fight was a night that would test all the training, all the patience and skill of a doorman. It was like getting on a roller-coaster; once the ride begins there's no turning back. All one can do is ride it out.

As the doorman at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, keeping track of all the conventions and events was important not just for giving tourists general information but to seriously prepare for what was coming next, and there was always something coming next.

Las Vegas was built for change. If the National Finals Rodeo was coming, the city would prepare for that kind of crowd. Restaurants and buffets would serve ribs and beans. Country acts would be booked in the showrooms and lounges. Destinations for merchandise; parties, and nightclubs would all offer the cowboy and cowgirl anything their hearts desired. Then, within days an entirely different convention or event would begin which would create a whole new transformation. Even a huge showroom like MGM's Grand Garden Arena could be a dirt filled calf roping and Brahma bull riding arena one week, and within a day or two be transformed into The Ice Capades or a concert hall, even a boxing ring. It was amazing but hey, this is what Las Vegas does, and it does it very well. But as an employee, it was insane. For me, it was like a swirl of different colors, and I had to adapt to each one.

Of all the conventions, of all the concerts or holidays, nothing came close to a Mike Tyson boxing event. For myself, preparing for a major fight night, meant lots of food and rest a couple days before. But a Mike Tyson fight was a night that would test all the training, all the patience and skill of a doorman. It was like getting on a roller-coaster; once the ride begins there's no turning back. All one can do is ride it out.

On those fight nights, all that Las Vegas offered was sold out. There were no rooms left vacant, no un-booked restaurants, not one nightclub that would let you in.

It wasn't the amount of people who came into town to see the Tyson fight that was a concern; it was those who came into town for the event. It was always a cross-cultural mass of people; Beverly Hills mixed with gang-bangers, mixed with the usual hard partying fight crowd. It was a melting pot of people from all over the country. These crowds were sometimes explosive, unpredictable, and always had lots of money to throw around. Throw into the mix alcohol and drugs, and it was a major challenge. It was a time for the city to go into survival mode for 24 hours. I worked five Mike Tyson fights and it was always a matter of trying to keep everything in control. For hotel employees, we worked our asses off. We had to be flexible, not confront, and give people the best service we could.

As a doorman, the chaos of a fight night was like a double edged sword. The city streets were always gridlocked with cars, nothing moved. The cabs and limousines could only trickle in and no one could get transportation without me. The demand for transportation became huge with so little supply. Taxi lines of hundreds of people would stretch over 200 yards while still other groups would gather at the front of the line where I stood, waving hundred-dollar bills in my face.

The noise was deafening with all the yelling, the air barely breathable with all the cab fumes and cigar smoke. The money being thrown at me so fast and furious, that I couldn't remember who handed it to me. Men threatened, women offered themselves to me for the chance that I would get them transportation.

And when it was over my voice would be gone. It would take days for my body to recover. Initially nights like these scared me but in time, I became addicted to the energy of one hundred thousand people, the unbelievable amounts of money being thrown around, and even the power of the position.

Web Site: Under the Neon Sky: A Las Vegas Doorman's Story

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