When you think of eccentric professional athletes, who comes to mind? Maybe Dennis Rodman, Draymond Green, or even Terrell Owens. Still, if you combined all of them together, they would be a far cry from Iron Mike Tyson. The former champion has led a crazy life filled with impeccable highs and tragic lows. Without giving away some of the insane stories you’re about to dive into, let’s just say you better get some popcorn ready. Who else do you know that’s bold enough to own three Bengal tigers and walk them around on a leash?
Eye Of The Tiger
Have you ever heard of a car salesman who was capable of obtaining white Bengal tigers? We haven’t either, but when Mike Tyson was in jail (more on that later), he called his car dealer up and asked for some tigers. Tyson had a desire to own supercars and large cats.
This car man secured three white Bengal tigers that cost $70,000 and another $4,000 a month to maintain. Thanks to going bankrupt, the championship boxer had to relinquish the felines in 2003. It’s still a mystery where they are now.
Tyson’s Love For Pigeons
A Chinese Proverb says, “A beautiful bird is the only kind we cage.” “I have loved pigeons since I was nine…I was fat and ugly. Kids teased me all the time,” Tyson revealed to the Daily Record. “The only joy I had was pigeons.”
Here, we see him holding one of his precious pet pigeons. He thinks the birds are beautiful creatures that should only be nurtured and nourished. We’ll learn more about that later.
Catching Brad Pitt Red-Handed
One thing most people would never do is creep around with a woman who is in an on-again-off-again relationship with a heavyweight boxing champion. Robin Givens and Tyson had a messy public divorce, but that didn’t keep them apart completely.
Tyson would show up to her home occasionally, and that’s when he caught actor Brad Pitt in the same bed with Givens. Tyson could have knocked his lights out but decided not to. In his memoir, Tyson wrote that Pitt pleaded, “Dude, don’t strike me, don’t strike me. We were just going over some lines. She was talking about you the whole time.”
A Bird Created Iron Mike Tyson
Tyson’s passion for birds is even more profound than you can imagine. Not only did they bring him joy, but it was a pigeon that sparked the fighter’s desire to fight! After a bully killed one of his birds, his future was laid out before him.
Tyson told the New York Times: “when a bully that was antagonizing me killed one of my birds in front of me, I snapped and began fighting him. If it weren’t for this guy hurting my beloved animal, I may not have ever had the desire to fight.”
His ‘Simpsons’ Name Is Drederick Tatum
The Simpsons have a reputation for pushing the envelope comedically. Only a few of their stunts compare Tyson to Drederick Tatum, the fictional character based on you know who. He had the lisp, exotic animals, high-pitched voice and the same haircut that Mike Tyson had.
At first, Tyson didn’t know about this replica, but he didn’t seem to mind after finding out. “I’m used to people making cartoon characters of me, so I’ve never seen it as offensive. I’m not some superhero, I’m just an entertainer,” Tyson said.
The Buster Douglas Debacle
Whenever athletes mourn the death of someone close to them, you can expect them to perform at astronomical levels — or the exact opposite. When Buster Douglas stepped into the ring on February 11, 1990, as a 42/1 underdog mourning the loss of his mother, nobody predicted what happened next.
At the time Tyson was undefeated and had never got knocked to the canvas. After withstanding a wild fury from Tyson, Douglas shocked the world in the tenth round by knocking him down. When asked how he did it, Douglas said, “Because of my mother… God bless her heart.”
He Almost Challenged A… Gorilla?
There’s probably nothing Mike Tyson wouldn’t have done in his prime. In the ’80s, when he was still with Robin Givens, he took her to the New York Zoo and the night transformed when they made it to the gorilla habitat. Tyson isn’t a fan of bullying, so when he saw one of the gorillas picking on the others, he found an employee.
“They were so powerful, but their eyes were like an innocent infant. I offered the attendant $10,000 to open the cage and let [me] smash that ‘silverback’s snotbox!” He declined.
Shady Don King
There’s no love lost between Mike Tyson and Don King, the man who embezzled around $50 million of Tyson’s hard-earned money. Since King was the promoter, he took the cash upfront and would make up bogus claims while making Tyson wait for his cut.
Tyson says he was a “wretched, slimy, reptilian mother [expletive]… he’s just a bad man, a real bad man.” The boxer has gotten violent with the promoter in the past saying he had to “kick him in his [expletive] head.”
Mike And Tupac
Mike Tyson and hip-hop legend Tupac were good friends. On the night that Tyson knocked out Bruce Selon in the first-found for the WBA Heavyweight title, tragedy struck. After the fight, Tyson went home to rest while Tupac went out for a night on the town.
Around 11:15 PM in Las Vegas, a drive-by shooting happened, and Tupac was in the crosshairs. They rushed him to the hospital with life-threatening wounds. He would die six days later, and that would also be the last time Tyson won a championship.
One Holy Bite
One of the most shocking moments from Mike Tyson’s career happened during a fight with Evander Holyfield. In 1996, the two squared off and Holyfield stunned the world by winning the WBA title. A year later, they faced off again in a highly anticipated rematch.
Holyfield looked to be too much for Tyson again early on. When the third round came around, Tyson grappled his opponent and bit on his ear! He took off a one-inch piece of cartilage and spit it out.
One Holy Bite, Part Two
After Tyson bit Holyfield, the officials had to halt the fight so they could tend to the injured boxer. They didn’t call it and let them resume. Moments after the bout started again, Tyson took another bite!
This time, they called the fight at once, and Holyfield became the champ again. Tyson got fined $3 million and received an 18-month ban. Upon returning to the ring, nothing was the same. He was no longer the ruthless boxer he once was.
In Love With Tyson
If we had permission to dive into the details revolving Mike Tyson’s wild love life, you’d think you were on an adult website. Tyson’s romantic involvements range from primitive to straight absurd. After two messy divorces, the former champ settled with Lakisha “Kiki” Spicer in 2009.
Tyson once said he had no concept of love, but grew “tired of being alone and tired of not having that intimacy.” Even now with the situation he’s in he says he doesn’t “like being loved. I don’t feel like being loved. I have too much love to give and none to accept.”
The Kid From Brooklyn And His Tragic Upbringing
If a publisher wanted to, they could sell millions of copies of a book just about Mike Tyson’s childhood. It’s filled with heartbreak and tragedy. Those experiences are what helped shape the Tyson we know today. When he was two, his dad abandoned the family. It only worsened each year.
He grew up in Brooklyn’s ghetto in the housing projects and had to let the streets raise him. At 16, his mentally and physically abusive mother passed away. In Tyson’s autobiography, he wrote that he was “eleven or twelve and was fighting guys in their thirties…I got beat up a lot.”
The Tough Upbringing Didn’t Ease Up
Tyson’s childhood was hardly normal. Outside of spending a great deal of time fighting, he was also involved in burglary, petty theft, and drug use. For anyone else, that could have very well led to self-destruction.
At 11, he tried drugs for the first time, and by 13, he was arrested a total of 38 times. He was borderline a psychopath (depending entirely on who you ask), and he considered the Bridges Juvenile Center his second home.
Where’s The Brotherly Love?
This is common for many relatives, but Mike Tyson and his older brother hardly keep in touch. Rodney Tyson works as a physician’s assistant in California. They hardly ever speak, but when they do, the conversations are short.
In an interview, when asked if he sees his brother Rodney responded, “Not much. It’s the really sad part about my family. We don’t have a close connection. Too many demons, too much pain.”
No Mother In Sight
While she may have passed away when Tyson was 16, she wasn’t very motherly at all before that. Tyson’s mom was addicted to drugs and used them on her son to put him to sleep. Poverty took over the home, and violence became an everyday thing for the family.
“My mother never believed in me,” Tyson told The Guardian. “Even when I started doing well in boxing and people were writing about me, she thought I was insane.”
Tyson The Trouble Man
The Bridges Juvenile Center proved no match for the untamable and violent Tyson. He would get shipped to The Tryon School for Boys, a detention center in upstate New York. Upon arrival, the fighter immediately started lashing out.
Tyson said, “I began to get a rep. Mike Tyson – the psycho crazy guy, the sick [expletive] who would walk up and punch you in the face or throw hot water on you.” Tyson couldn’t fit in anywhere he went…
Tyson Switches Lanes
After a tremendous boxing career that ended in flames, it was a smart idea for Tyson to switch gears. In 2012, the haymaker machine added a new position to his resume: actor. He partnered with all-time director Spike Lee to release Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth, which was a Broadway show.
The show received praise and backlash for being boundary-pushing and corny, respectively. The MGM Grand promised the spectacle would thrill “audiences with tales of victory, tragedy, and redemption.”
Mike Tyson Mysteries
Not only has the former champ done Broadway, but he’s also the star of an Adult Swim TV show titled Mike Tyson Mysteries. The show first aired October 27, 2014, and still comes out with new episodes as of 2019.
The premise of the series is very similar to Scooby-Doo! and Jonny Quest, with Tyson and his crew out to solve mysteries. Tyson admitted he was a “little apprehensive because the pay wasn’t much, and the concept was really odd.” The formula seems to work, though.
Locked Up, But Not Defeated
In 1992, Tyson was convicted of sexually assaulting Miss Black America pageant contestant Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. The judge gave him a ten-year sentence, but he got out after only three years.
The whole ordeal should have been a massive blow to his career, but it didn’t turn out that way. While in prison, Tyson received special privileges other inmates could only dream of. Other prisoners would be doing pushups, and Tyson would be getting it on with one of his guards. Wow.