You reached your prime over a quarter-century ago, how does it feel to be still one of the most recognized people in boxing and sports in general? Especially by a generation of people who weren’t even born yet when you became the youngest heavyweight champion.
I don’t even look at it from that perspective. I’m just grateful to have an opportunity to make money for my parents, my family, and my children. I'm happy that I can be who I want to be and I don’t have to do things that I don’t want to do.
We’re not sure if you’re aware, but your “I’m the best ever” post-bout speech is featured on Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers 2 mixtape. Why do you think you’ve always appealed to the hip-hop community?
Because that’s who we are. Hip-hop is a lifestyle. Whether it’s African-American, Latino or whatever this is how they live. Lower-class people this is how they live their life. They dress that way. Hip-hop is a dress, it’s a style, it’s a character. It’s changed over the years, but, you know, there’s always been a tribal thing. Everybody has their own style with rapping and music from different boroughs they might do it differently. You can hear a person rap and tell what borough he’s from or what part of a borough he’s from. So it’s just those little things that make hip-hop what it is.
What would you say is the worst beating you’ve ever given someone and the worst beating you ever received? Inside or outside the ring.
I don’t know. I didn’t give many beatings, I usually just knocked them out. The worst beating I received? Probably [Evander] Holyfield, who else? And Buster and Lennox [Lewis], I used to get clocked a lot.
Muhammad Ali’s trainer Angelo Dundee passed away earlier this year. You also had a Hall of Fame trainer in Cus D’Amato. A lot of people point to his death as a turning point in your career. Would you say that’s true?
Absolutely. He had a big influence on me at that stage of my life. Honestly, he was an incredible influence. I always said that we were going to be the champions together. He was always on my back, always on me, riding me. I loved it. He would say, "Now Mike, you have to do this! Concentrate.” I’d love to hear him talk to me like that.
I didn’t give many beatings, I usually just knocked them out.
Speaking of people from your past, when’s the last time that you ran into Don King?
I think I saw him in Atlantic City at a boxing convention.
You had some pretty choice words for him in the Tyson documentary back in 2009. Do you still hold some of the same thoughts about him today?
Hey, listen. I don’t hold grudges, I don’t cry over spilled milk. I’m just about living a peaceful, existent life with my wife and my family. I have to release the past.
When you were on ESPN’s PTI the other day you gave a crazy story about Robin Givens and Brad Pitt. Are there any other crazy stories from the ‘80s that you’d like to share?
Oh man, a lot of good stuff, man. That was the tip of the iceberg. I was just getting people warmed up. I might not even tell that story. There’s some awesome stuff.
Could you give us one particular story like that?
No way, I gave you Brad. You’ve got to come watch.
But that was for PTI. How about one for us?
Come check it out. You’ve got to pay for the good stuff. [Laughs.]
*Roots of Fight presents Mike Tyson on: Confidence