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Biofile Mike Tyson Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Former World Heavyweight Champion.
DOB: June 30, 1966  In: Brooklyn, NY

First Boxing Memory: “This guy killed my pigeon and it was a wrap. That was the first fight ever in my life, because of a pigeon. This guy stole one of my birds. I ran after him. He ripped the bird’s head off and threw it at me, blood got on me. So I fought him. It wasn’t like I was sensational or anything. I was just flailing away. I hit him more than he hit me I guess. Then I just wanted more and more and more. I wanted to crush the world to my feet…I have a big, deep hole in me. I had to have everything. All of it. When I was a young kid, I was unbalanced. It was always everything or nothing.”

Boxing Inspiration: “My mother (Lorna Mae). The best thing that ever happened to me was when my mother passed away, and forgive me for saying that. It really inspired me to accomplish my goals. I did a lot of what I did in my career for her.”

Favorite Boxer: A lot of people assume that Muhammad Ali was my favorite boxer. But I have to say it was Roberto Duran. I always looked at Ali as being handsome and articulate. And I was short and ugly and I had a speech impediment. When I saw Duran fight, he was just a street guy. He would say stuff to his opponents like. ‘Suck my blank you mother f*****. Next time you’re going to the morgue. Man, this guy is me, I thought. He was not ashamed of being who he was. I related to him as a human being.

Hobbies: “Pigeon racing. Pigeons are the best. Of all the animals I’ve had – lions, tigers – none are even close to the same league as the birds. What I love about birds is what we can’t get from human beings which is loyalty. That’s what the connection is. As long as he’s alive and his heart is pumping, he’ll come back.”
Favorite Movies:  “Rocky series. Raging Bull. The Notebook.”
Favorite Books:  “So many books… Machiavelli. Voltaire. From a classical perspective.”
Pre-Fight Meal: “Steak, some vegetables.”
Favorite Meal:
  “Chicken Tikka Marsala at Tamarind Tribeca. I eat mostly rice and beans or hummus.”
Favorite Breakfast Cereal:  “Capn Crunch.”
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  “Chocolate vanilla cone with sprinkles.”
First Job: “Boxing.”

Art by Bud Boccone.

Greatest Sports Moment: “When I was 16, I went and fought this man in Boston. I was 15, 16, he must’ve been 28. He beat me, but it was really close. I thought I just fought my best fight then. Everybody was giving me a standing ovation. I lied about my age, and everybody, they knew who I was. Some guy knew I lied, they said, ‘You’re 15.’ I was on stage and I was a young guy, I’d just won the junior national championships twice, everybody thought I was a god. I was only 16, 15 years old, and this guy, that was his last fight, he turned professional, but he was just so intelligent fighting. He was smart, I never fought a guy … It was just, I said ‘Wow.’ It was a great fight, everybody was standing ovation, but he won. But I thought I’d won, but I’d just said, ‘Wow’ that was just my greatest performance. I gave it all I had… I cried all the way home, Rhode Island to New York, I cried all the way home.”

Tyson fight poster art by LeRoy Neiman.

Most Painful Moment: “When you make those mistakes and fuck up, you can’t get discouraged. You have to get up again and act like it never happened. It’s all about not giving up. In life, you have to understand, in sports, everyone’s beaten in sports. We’re designed to be beaten in sports. What are we gonna do after that, because that’s a small increment of our life? What are we gonna do after that? Are we gonna give up because we’re gonna believe this is the best moment of our life and we no longer have it because we don’t possess that crown that calls us this champion, a king, or whatever you are? We have to continue to go on improving ourselves as human beings. I really think a champion is defined, not by their wins but by how they recover when they fail.”

Strangest Boxing Memory:  “I had the best three years of my life in prison. I had peace. Money doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have your peace, your stability and your balance. You need your sanity to dictate any part of life… I can’t help someone by giving them money. I can only hurt them by giving them money. If they don’t have aspirations and haven’t been through any adversity, then they’re going to give in when they’re tested. I have to give them competition, whatever it is. They have to have that spirit. That’s what life is about.”
Favorite Sport Outside Boxing:  “Tennis. My daughter (Milan) loves tennis. She’s very serious about it. She plays tournaments. She won her first tournament. Tennis changed my life, it changed our lives. It broadened my horizons and I’m grateful to be involved in meeting everybody I have in the tennis world.”
Favorite Athletes To Watch: “Novak Djokovic is my favorite at the moment. I love Djokovic personally. I really like to watch him. He’s my favorite because of the way he has come back and beaten guys like Nadal and Federer is amazing. He is a true fighter. I’m just a big fan of Federer. Federer is very smooth. He’s almost like Muhammad Ali back in his time, how he moves in the air. He’s so smoooooth. Nadal is a great player but he doesn’t look good playing.”
Funny Boxing Memory:  “When I bought a Ferrari and I didn’t know how to drive a Ferrari. And it was idling and it just went through the window. The glass window, my car went through the window and I had to get arrested because of property damage.”

All-Time Favorite Fight: Duran vs Leonard first fight, June 20, 1980 in Montreal.

Mike Tyson’s best knockouts

Scoop’s latest book “Facing Novak Djokovic” is available at amazon books for $9.99.

My interview with Tyson about his love for tennis

About Mark Malinowski

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