Interview: Mike Tyson Talks MMA vs. Boxing, His Broadway Show, and His Dating Tips

Interview: Mike Tyson Talks MMA vs. Boxing, His Broadway Show, and His Dating Tips

The most interesting man in the world? FOH, if you thought of the Dos Equis character, fam. If anyone’s deserving of such a title it’s Mike Tyson. His journey from the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history to the pop culture icon that he is today is one like no other. Jail stints, roles in blockbuster movies, dirty prostitutes, his own video game, battling and overcoming drug addictionIron Mike has lived the life of 20 badass motherfuckers 10 men.

Tyson’s latest ventures include his Broadway show, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth debuting later this month and his apparel line with Roots of Fight. We spoke with the champ about his transformation from the Baddest Man on the Planet to the family man that he is today, boxing vs. MMA, and his dating tips.

Also, be sure to check out a video clip of Iron Mike talking about the importance confidence for the Roots of Fight documentary at the end of the interview.

Interview by Ralph Warner (@SoloWarnerBro)

How did the idea for your apparel line with Roots of Fight come about?

We wanted to do some kind of university style and varsity style of outfits. Basically something to represent the year [1988] I unified the titles. It’s a real cool company and when they presented the idea I just thought it was awesome.

They did shirts for [Muhammad] Ali, Bruce Lee and a number of other fighters. There’s just a conglomerate of connections that they’ve been associated with. I’m just proud to be involved with him.

What are your thoughts on the state of boxing today?

Well, I think the collective state of boxing is pretty whacked-out right now, but it always comes back. They never had competition before like MMA. There are certain individual fighters who are awesome, like Chad Dawson and Andre Ward, fighting [one another] which is just remarkable. The fact that those guys in this day and age would take the risk to fight each other like this—this is just awesome.

Did you watch the Pacquiao-Bradley fight?

Yeah, I was there. I thought [Manny] Pacquiao won the fight, but I thought Timothy Bradley fought tremendously. 

 

Hey, listen man, a threat to boxing? It’s already defeated boxing. It’s all about MMA right now.

 

So, you were surprised by the decision just like everyone else?

Oh, I didn’t see the decision because I left after the last round. I already knew Pacquiao got the decision.

Well then, somebody called me. A friend of mine called me and was cursing and screaming and said, "What kind of fight you got me watching? What kind of bull?’"—and this and that. I say "Hey, relax. What happened? Why you talking like that?" He said, "Bradley won." I said "What?!" I couldn’t believe it.

What do you think the sport needs to do to improve the judging and make sure that things like that don’t happen?

I think they should show the scores after the round. They should do that so the fans can give their opinion through what they saw on the score.

Speaking of decisions and refereeing in the sport, were there any instances in your career where you thought that you were robbed? A lot of people say Buster Douglas got a slow count when you knocked him down in the 8th round.

Hey, listen, I don’t cry over spilled milk. That was so long ago. Those things don’t upset me. I don’t even remember. Everything happens for a reason, you know? I don’t question what happened in life no more. I’m just very grateful to be talking on the phone to you and to have my wife sitting next to me with my kids and having a relationship with my kids. I’m just really simple these days.

Do you ever think that we’ll see the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight?

It could still happen. It’ll still be a great fight. But if it doesn’t, one fight doesn’t spoil the whole show and every other fight.

What are your thoughts on MMA?

MMA is awesome. We need to make those guys multi-millionaires now.

Do you see that sport as a threat to boxing? Or do you think they could coexist?

Hey, listen man, a threat to boxing? It’s already defeated boxing. It’s all about MMA right now. These guys need to make money and be millionaires. These guys need to be having their own businesses then they can franchise and become entrepreneurs. I don’t know—there should be more MMA. MMA should be more of a brighter star. Not from just some fighter perspective, but of an entrepreneur perspective, too. The fighters should go and branch out into other fields and be financial juggernauts in our society and not just a performer.

Moving back to your life outside of the ring, you have your upcoming show on Broadway, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth. How did that come about?

We were in Las Vegas and my wife saw a billboard for A Bronx Tale showing at the Venetian and that's her favorite movie. We went to see the show and it was just a beautiful show, a great performance. I was explaining to my wife "Baby, I can do that stuff. I could be on stage and stuff, you know? I’ve been doing it all my life." We arranged it and it happened and thank God it was successful. Now we’re on Broadway.

 

I had a four-year-old daughter that passed away and when that occurred I wanted to make another change in my life. I wanted to stop all the bullshit.

 

Are you nervous about your Broadway debut?

Of course I’m nervous that’s because I’m not on stage yet. But once I’m on stage, I’m going to be at home.

What are some of the things that fans can expect?

They can expect anything and everything. I’m an open book.

You went from kind of “The Baddest Man on the Planet” to being in trouble with the law and battling drug addiction after retirement. You’ve had a rebirth over these past couple of years though. What led to that transformation?

When my daughter died. I had a four-year-old daughter that passed away and when that occurred I wanted to make another change in my life. I wanted to stop all the bullshit. I didn’t need to get high when I didn’t want to get high. I just have more control over my life and make conscious, responsible decisions.

And I have become courageous enough to make that choice even though I had some past discrepancies. And I’m saying regardless of those [discrepancies] I can be courageous enough to make that stand and I’m going to be a responsible father. I’m going to be a committed father, a committed husband and I’m not going to make a fool out of my wife and my family like I did in my last marriages and stuff. I’m going to just be a stand-up, straight-laced citizen of my society and be accounted for.

Back in your prime, you had a reputation for dealing with women poorly and it seems you've done a 180 now that you’re a family man. What are some of your tips for picking up women?

It’s a tricky situation. I think I just lucked out, but I kissed a lot of toads, you know what I mean? To get my princess. I don’t know. It’s all chemistry, criteria, timing, there’s a lot of exponents involved. It’s so simple to get involved but so complicated to get control of it. Maybe that’s what it’s about: the lack of control. Having no control. Just letting it happen.

Since your role in The Hangover, you've become more associated with comedy than anything else. Are you ever fearful that people don't take you seriously enough nowadays?

They have no choice but to take me seriously because my actions speak for itself. They see that I want to live a human life, a very respectable life and I don’t want to humiliate my family like I used to do. It’s not from a financial perspective, just from a human perspective I want to improve myself as a person. I don’t want to hustle people for money and try to trick them into coming to my show. I want them to come to my show because it’s a real show. It’s the stories about me, who I am and why I was crazy. I don't fear anything now in life because I never thought that I could ever come back from that point in my life.

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

Tags: mike-tyson, interview, mike-tyson-undisputed, roots-of-fight
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