Every morning, the fine folks at Sports Radio Interviews sift through the a.m. drive-time chatter to bring you the best interviews with coaches, players, and personalities across the sports landscape. Today: a characteristically candid Tyson on his low points, and his second and third careers.
Tyson joined 1100 ESPN in Las Vegas to talk about his remarkable life story in and out of the ring - from the darkest moments doing drugs, lying to himself, wasting his career and alienating everybody around him, to his recent journey back to respectability and inner peace. The range of topics discussed is so dizzingly diverse I wouldn't even dare try to summarize. Just take a listen for yourself.
On the under discussed fact that Holyfield was head-butting him when he bit his ear off:
"Yeah but I don't cry over spilled milk. I just wish Holyfield the best. I have great deal of respect and admiration for him. He came up the same way I came up. We didn't have nothing. We want to win. We didn't have nothing at that time. We want to win. Our destiny, our life - like other guys, they box just for sports or to stay out of trouble, and then they have education. But this is my life; this is Holyfield's life. I want to be champ of the world and then everyone will know my name because I never was anyone. "
After a discussion about Holyfield still boxing Tyson was asked if he was keeping off the pounds so he wouldn't be fat and unable to wipe his ass after using the bathroom:
"No, I had to have people do it for me. I was like a sumo wrestler. I had stool girls to do it for me. You know, sumo wrestlers got stool girls. They put them over each cheek and got them to scrape all the stuff off, just scraping around."
On all the projects he's staying busy with, most notably his Animal Planet series:
"What I'm really trying to convey here is gratitude. HBO and Doug Ellln the producer of Entourage, and Spike Lee and John Ridley, theyre going to do the first pilot of the stuff we're doing with the particular character from Newark, Jersey - a troubled kid who becomes a sensational fighter. It deals with the zenith and the of success. There's going to be my stories, there's going to be a whole bunch of fighters' stories in there."
On the premise of his Animal Planet show about racing pigeons:
"Well my show is basically discussing the history of the racing pigeon, and I'm just a neophyte, I'm just a novice in this particular genre of pigeons. I'm more of a fancy bird type. But this is something different. We take them something like 300 miles and we race them with like ten other groups of birds, and we race them and see who comes back first. If you come back first, you win."
On the recent HBO special on him where it was disclosed that he'd been bullied by some of his peers in the pigeon racing world:
"Yeah that's pretty interesting when people say I've been bullied. You know, bullying is a big thing now. But if you've never experienced bullying in the inner city…even in I don't care, the suburbs, even in Jackson Hole, Wyoming by some billionaire cowboy - you're going to experience bullying. I don't care who you are because it's the nature of human beings for the big to pick on the small. Even for tigers and lions - they don't pick on other tigers and lions, they pick on something small that's less threatening. That's smart. In America we say why don't you pick on someone your own size? Why, so he can hurt more when he hits me? No. So it's a part of human nature, who we are. So we've got to prevent bullying."
On the time he recently took out of his schedule to speak to a group of young college students at Mississippi Valley State:
"Hey, it's my pleasure. Listen, I may know a few things about boxing and animals and pigeons, I just…my mother went to an all-black college in Winston-Salem North Carolina, so I don't know, there's just people that love the idea of all black colleges. And I love it too, because I'm a descendant from black college graduates. I'm a descendant. But I don't know. Help me, maybe I don't undertsand. Maybe I need to speak to people who know about this - if we're to move on, why is there a purpose for black colleges if we're going to ever get together and kill racism. We're living in a democracy aren't we? How it can it ever be a democracy if we have black colleges. It really can't be. If this is America where we're all one people, that can never be true. That's just my views, some people think differently. But we can never have true integration if we have the Chinese American front, the Iranian-Jewish church. No, we all have to be one. If we're religious people then we're all that religion. We don't have to say I'm a Russian Jew and you're an Iranian Jew where I let you know where I'm from. No, we're all Jewish, we're all Muslim, we're all Catholic - it shouldn't have to be so separated like that. It always causes dissension. I don't care what it's called. If it was called the white brotherhood school, it would be an outrage. The White College of America! Are you sick man?!? Everybody would want to kill…the white people would want to blow the school up! Man, please. All the liberals here? Get out of here man."
If he's surprised that he decided to get re-married:
"No, check this out man. When my wife married me, I was OD'ing every day. I was a mess. I didn't deserve a prostitute with full-blown AIDS. I could have gotten one, but I didn't deserve her. She was slummin' if she was with me at that stage. We're putting it together We're putting our foundation together one brick at a time, and it seems to be going well. We had to get reacquainted. We're started to get reacquainted now that we're married."
On how rough the neighborhood was that he and Zeb Judah grew up in:
"Well it was like any inner-city neighborhood that society don't care about. Now it's a beautiful neighborhood. They've got security cameras everywhere watching everybody. They've got white women with sassy mouths that now live in our neighborhood. It's an invasion of something! Because white did a u-turn and black, I don't know what black did, but white did a u-turn and black evacuated somewhere. I feel like when I go back to Brownsville, my whole life is a lie because it's not what I said it was to reporters in the '80s . It's not the same place. What happened to the tough guys? What happened to you look out the window and you don't go outside because the guys hanging out on the corner? Those guys don't exist anymore."
If he has any sort of relationship with Don King:
"No, no. I don't have hard feelings towards Don, but he's been real cheap with tickets to the fight lately, he's been a real cheap fuck. The last fight I was at, I think he did it on purpose but he put me and my friends in the back. I didn't do nothing to him; I don't know why he did that to me."
If there was ever a reporter from back in the day that he wanted to whack:
"Well back in the day I wanted to whack everybody. I'm not going to do that now. Shit, you can't get me into an argument now."
If he'll promise to not go on T.V. for a dancing competition wearing tight clothes again in the future:
"No, I can't dance, I agree. But I am taking dancing lessons now and I'm going to Argentina and I'm going to learn how to do the greatest dances of all time and it's called the tango."
If he goes to strip clubs anymore:
"No way, Jose. My wife, before we got married, we used to hang out in strip clubs together. Now she became this married woman with kids, ‘oh my Mike, no, we can' do that! Oh my, you're hanging around those people again.' I don't know what happened to her."
His take on what's going on with Charlie Sheen:
"I don't know what's happening to Charlie. If he's passing the tests everyone's giving him. He is acting a little bit strange, I like to be on the show too, but I believe that's my dark side thing. We're going to get it together Charlie. I don't know where he's at. But this is where I've been, I don't know if he's there - I've been a damn fool, I've been on drugs and embarrassed myself and other people too of course, and I thought I was awesome. That's where I've been, so I don't know. I've been in places where I wish I could move under a rock and not look at myself no more. So I don't know, but Charlie doesn't seem to feel that way yet. Again, I don't know what Charlie's going to do. If he says he passed the tests, I'm great at tricking those tests when I was on drugs. I don't know if Charlie's doing that, but this is something I'm great at - lying to myself. But if he says he's passed the tests then I believe him 100 percent. But then we're dealing with a personality problem. I don't know. I just wish him the best of luck with everything."
On his early-career fight against Trevor Berbick and how he went into it with an STD that wasn't disclosed to anybody:
Of course I had VD. Of course I was embarrassed to tell anybody you know? Well I told my trainer Kevin Rooney, but I didn't understand, I'm just a 20 year old sap. I'm thinking this is postponement because I'm sleeping with some tramp. I've got to tell you a story about that stuff, this is so crazy. So we went to the fight, I won and I was so excited to get out of there because I'm dripping with sweat like a [incomprehensible word due to laughter] in July. So I can't wait to get out of the ring. So that was over. But I had to persevere because this was my life, this championship was what I dreamed of all my life and I wasn't going to be denied."
On if he was scared when he was sent away to prison in Indianapolis:
"To tell you the truth, I was never scared about prison. I was basically born in prison my adolescent and young adult life. I've been in and out of reform schools, so I wasn't worried about getting along with me because the worst thing you've got to do is stab somebody, throw some gasoline on somebody and light ‘em - the scum bag stuff, I was born to do that stuff. I just wanted to get out of there safe so I could go back to the cushy life that I had because I had vengeance on my mind. I've got the Count of Monte Cristo on my mind because while I'm in prison I'm reading the Count of Monte Cristo. So I'm strategizing my revenge, my comeback to the world basically which has really meant nothing really, but in that little controlled environment I thought I was Dante from the Count of Monte Cristo and I was going to accelerate my skills and become better than I was when I came out. And I still was a dope."
On his recent foray into acting:
"What I can tell you about my acting career is I have one. I'm just so happy that somebody gave me a job."
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