Outside the Ring: Mike Tyson

By Jill Diamond on March 3, 2015
Outside the Ring: Mike Tyson
We all change, grow up, and hopefully evolve. Most of us do this outside the spotlight.

“Because of the sport I was able to make the impossible tangible. This sport helped me dream bigger than anything I could have dreamed of without it…”

Sports and Philanthropy: A series of articles dedicated to those who’ve given their all and still give more. Each article will feature a different community champion; no belts, no medals, no ratings… just good people passing it on.

Who is this Mike Tyson and why is he the subject of a column on sports and philanthropy? The answers Mike gave me this time are very different than the ones he offered several years ago when I first met him. We all change, grow up, and hopefully evolve. Most of us do this outside the spotlight. And few have the courage to display their lives, warts and all, for others to chew on and criticize. The Mike Tyson I now know is a sweet sometimes shy man capable of extreme bravado and unexpected articulation. His brashness replaced by confidence. His desperation dissolved by the validation of those he cares about. One cannot help but wonder if this transformation would’ve been possible without the love and guidance of his wife, Kiki. A wise woman, fiercely protective and capable; a woman who’s faced her own tribulations and learned how important it is to draw a tight circle around family and friends. But why philanthropy? The Mike Tyson I know has given back, not just to the popularity of the sport, but to many individuals, privately and publicly. And in truth, as one of the world’s most interesting men, who could resist writing about him? I applaud this Mike Tyson, and I respect his incredible reinvention, and the wife who inspired the possibilities.

Who are your heroes? 

I don’t have a specific person that I would call my hero. That is a lot of weight to put on a person. There are many people throughout history that I greatly admire and respect but I think our society uses the term hero too loosely. Heroic acts are more common, like our troops that risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for our soldiers.

Who disappointed you? 

Nobody disappointed me. I realize we are all flawed in some way or another. I’m not here to live my life with regrets of who disappointed me. If anything I have disappointed myself at times but I don’t regret any of my life experiences. They have made me into the man I am now.

What accomplishment(s) are you proudest of?

Raising my children and being involved in their lives. I’m proud that my oldest children have all turned out to be good people even though I can’t take full credit for this since during my earlier years I wasn’t a very present father. Despite this, they turned out great and I am proud of them. I am proud to be a part of my younger children’s daily lives and helping groom them into strong individuals. It’s remarkable witnessing their little minds grow. Truly grateful for this time.

You have started a Foundation. Would you tell us about it? 

It’s called Mike Tyson Cares Foundation it was established to help give children a fighting chance at a better life. It has been retroactive for some time now but I plan to re-establish it very soon.

You’ve gone from boxing’s bad boy to an acknowledged performer and promoter. What inspired you?

I have always been an actor and wanted to act. Boxing was a form of acting for me with my grand theatrics in and out of the ring. But after retiring I was really inspired to go after this dream and I love every minute of performing.

If you could do it again, what would you change?

Nothing. Every experience has molded me for this part of my life.

If you could change anything about the sport, what would you change?

It would be arrogant for me to want to change anything—especially when the sport has given so much to me. Because of the sport I was able to make the impossible tangible. This sport helped me dream bigger than anything I could have dreamed of without it.

What does family mean to you?

Everything now. Ten years ago my answer would have been different. I am truly grateful for what I have now and now I will never take it for granted again.

How do your children respond to your celebrity and press?

All of my kids are well-grounded and aren’t too overzealous about my celebrity. They are like, “it’s just dad.” But some of their friends make a big deal out of it and I know it must be challenging to be the child of a celebrity. You have to be extra sharp and a good judge of intentions early on.

How do you deal with criticism? Praise?

Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. I have too much to lose in this life to get caught up with either. Because both are ego-generated, and when you lead with the ego nothing good is going to come out of it.

What’s important to you?


What are your goals?

I want to continue working on my business endeavors and continue expanding my acting career along with producing movies. I love the entertainment industry. That is what I am passionate about these days.

A fighter you admire?

Roberto Duran. I identified with him as a young boxer. I thought he was just exciting to watch.  Ali of course because he’s Ali. He was Cus’ favorite fighter. In Cus’ eyes no one could ever beat him.

A fight you’d like to see?

I think we all want to see the upcoming Mayweather vs Pacquiao.

Everyone wants a piece. How do you know a true friend from a fan?

A friend is only a friend if he is put in a position to show he is a friend. I don’t know really who my friends are until life challenges occur and they are revealed. At this stage in my life I have a lot of acquaintances but very few friends. As you grow your friendships change. Some strengthen and some you outgrow. Fans are awesome though; I am deeply appreciative and grateful for the love.

Which of your fights posed the most challenge?

The ones in my later years when I stopped loving the fight.  When it became a job that is when it was the most challenging.

What advice would you offer young “Tysons”?

Don’t try to be me… This isn’t a game for the weak minded. The biggest enemy you will have to defeat isn’t your opponent but your own mind playing tricks on you.

You wish that…?

I’m not much for wishing. I’ve lived one hell of a life. I’ll save the wishing for those with much left to accomplish.

What do you think people say when you leave the room?

I don’t care. Never have, never will.

How would you like to be remembered?

I only care to be remembered as a good man in the eyes of my wife and kids.

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Outside the Ring: Luke Downdey
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Outside the Ring: Chicago Youth Boxing Club
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Outside the Ring: Mike Tyson

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 02:50pm, 03/05/2015

    In fact I’d rather watch Bronco Billy knocking him the fuk out than Floyd/Manny on May 2….but then that’s just me.

  2. Buster 01:54pm, 03/05/2015

    I have no interest in listening to or reading about anything to do with Mike Tyson. Enough already. Interesting? Please! Why are we still wasting time writing about this jackass.

  3. Kid Blast 08:02pm, 03/04/2015

    Mike’s major issue is that he never worked on his legs. Like Shavers, he was built like a truck from the waist up, but those legs deserted him at times. He should have done far more road work. And far more gym work down below.

  4. Eric 07:04am, 03/04/2015

    Irish…I noticed the neck also. What the hell happened to that 19” neck of Tyson? Haven’t seen Evander recently but he had a massive neck back in the day too. Guess Mike doesn’t do any neck exercises now, seeing as how he doesn’t have to worry about huge guys trying to knock his block off. He might have stopped taking his “vitamins.”

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 04:36am, 03/04/2015

    Nice article Jill, but here’s what I’m thinking….Danny Williams and Kevin McBride stopped him (yes, these fights count) and in the present day Bronco Billy Wright would knock him spark out….especially with that pencil neck that he’s sporting in the photo above.

  6. Kid Blast 09:28am, 03/03/2015

    Thanks Jill. Enjoyed this very much

  7. peter 08:46am, 03/03/2015

    Tyson, skillfully and politically, dodged most of those questions—like they were punches in the ring. That’s ok. I’ll answer one of those dodged questions: “Who disappointed you?” Tyson, himself, disappointed me. But, ironically, he continues to impress me with his candor, (although not in this interview), and willingness to journey within himself, are both impressive.  Tyson will continue to disappoint and impress. He’s a fascinating man.

  8. Eric 07:26am, 03/03/2015

    Mike certainly has been never one to put on airs, always admired that about him. Could have been the greatest heavyweight of all time. In his short prime, he would have been a match for anyone, including Ali or Louis. The Klits or Lewis might have presented him with some problems given the size disparity. Mike had beaten Mitch Green, Tony Tucker, and Bonecrusher, all who were about the same size as Lewis and the Klits, maybe not as talented but they were good fighters. Shame that as great as Mike was, he could have been even greater.

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