In one of the most honest and heartfelt interviews you’ll ever hear, former two-time world heavyweight champ Mike Tyson broke down when discussing the difficulty in dealing with the reality that he’s no longer “the baddest man on the planet.”
Speaking to fellow boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard on Leonard’s podcast, “Iron” Mike choked back the tears as he shared his most intimate introspection.
“I was an annihilator.”
“I know the art of fighting, I know the art of war,” Tyson said. “That’s why I’m so feared. That’s why they feared me when I was in the ring ’cause I was an annihilator. I was born for it.
“Now those days are gone. I’m empty. I’m nothing. I am working on being the art of humbleness.
“That’s the reason why I’m crying, ’cause I’m not that person no more and I miss him.
“Sometimes I feel like a b****…”
“Sometimes I feel like a b**** because I don’t want that person to come out because if he comes out, hell is coming with him.
“And it’s not fun at all. I’m not trying to sound cool like I’m a tough guy – I’m scared of him.”
Tyson’s Legendary Run of Dominance
At 20 years of age, Mike Tyson became the youngest boxer to win the heavyweight title back in 1986 when he flattened Trevor Berbick in two rounds to claim the WBC belt. What ensued was a legendary run of dominance through the ranks of boxing’s glamour division with eye-catching wins over the likes of James “Bonecrusher” Smith, Michael Spinks, Larry Holmes, Frank Bruno, and Carl “The Truth” Williams. By the time of his upset defeat at the hands of James “Buster” Douglas in 1990, Tyson had unified the WBA, WBA, and IBF titles and was the biggest star in the sport– maybe even the biggest sports figure on the planet.
After losing three years of his career due to a rape conviction in 1992, Tyson resumed his career and managed to win back a world title. However, the same fire wasn’t there and the mystique around his fearsome persona had dissipated.
The Fall of “Iron” Mike
Despite a handful of quality wins, the one-time beast of boxing was bested and generally out-toughed in his second run as champ by Evander Holyfield, twice, and then by Lennox Lewis before he became little more than an afterthought at the top of the division. He would retire in 2005 at the age of 39 with a 50-6 record after an embarrassing RTD loss to journeyman Kevin McBride.
In the years following his retirement from the sport, Mike Tyson has appeared in a handful of movies, started a charitable organization, and, most recently, opened a cannabis ranch in California.
And, given the emotion and thought put forth as to who he is and his identity in the post-boxing chapter of his life, he’s also done plenty of introspection.
At 53 years of age, here’s hoping that Tyson finds inner peace and a way to turn the inner fire that pushed him to ring greatness, into something that truly satisfies his soul.
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