Mike Tyson earned quite a reputation for himself as a boxer, but his antics are what is most remembered for. Many people think that he has lost it; some believe that he is eccentric, and some believe that his behavior is often justified. He has been in the news for his bankruptcy, his stint in prison, his addiction, his facial tattoo, and the infamous, “Bite Fight” in 1997. These are all well-known facts, and here are 10 bizarre facts about Mike Tyson that you may not know about.
Mike Tyson vs. The Philosopher
Mike Tyson has fought some of the toughest and most dangerous men throughout his career. In 1987, he went toe to toe with an elderly philosophy professor, but fortunately, it didn’t get physical. The incident took place in 1987 when Mike was at a party in New York City with teenage supermodel, Naomi Campbell. He was dating her at the time. He and Naomi got into a fight, and Naomi’s friend ran over to help. Her friend wasn’t a boxer or a thug; it was a tiny 77-year-old man. His name was A.J. Ayer, and he was a British philosopher. When Ayer ran over to diffuse the situation, Mike began enraged. He started screaming, “Do you know who the f*ck I am? I’m the heavyweight champion of the world!” Ayer replied by saying, “And I am the former Wykeham Professor of logic. We are both pre-eminent in our field. I suggest that we talk about this like rational men.” The two men started talking, and Naomi was able to escape. Ayer may have been elderly, but he was employed by M16 during World War II, so he was better equipped to handle the situation than most people his age.
Most people consider pigeons to be rats with wings, but Mike has loved them since childhood. When he was just 10-years-old, he broke into a home and left with a lot of money. He used $100 of the money to buy his own flock of pigeons. He took them to a rooftop one at a time. Some of the neighborhood kids found out where he stashed the birds, and they tried to steal them. When Mike confronted them, a boy named Gary Flowers ripped the head off one of the pigeons and threw the remains at Mike. Mike immediately attacked the boy down, and it began his legacy. He got a reputation as a fighter in his neighborhood, and the other kids would challenge him. By the age of 11, he was known as a street-hardened thug. Soon, he was fighting in organized fights and became the famed boxer that he is today.
After all these years, Mike still loves pigeons. He even hosted a show about them on Animal Planet called Taking On Tyson.
Mike Was Bullied
When Mike Tyson was young, he was chubby, he wore glasses, and he had a speech impediment. These things made him a target for neighborhood bullies. When he was 7-years-old, his mother lost her job, and the family was forced to move to the Brooklyn projects, which was known for violence and drugs. When he was in the first grade, an older boy tried to rob him. When the boy realized that he didn’t have any money, he tried to steal his lunch, which was meatballs wrapped in aluminum foil. Mike wouldn’t give the boy his lunch, so the boy beat him up and stole his glasses. The boy put the glasses in the gas tank of a nearby car. When asked about it as an adult, Mike says that he felt like a coward that day, and he felt helpless. When he got older, he developed his fighting skills and then took revenge on the boys who used to bully him. He says that he beat up the boy who stole his gasses because he humiliated him. He says that the boy may have forgotten what he did, but Mike didn’t.
He Wanted To Be a Killer
Boxing regulations have changed a lot over the years in hopes of making it safer. It is still a dangerous and violent sport, and people have been killed in the ring. In 1947, Sugar Ray Robinson was set to fight Jimmy Doyle. He had a nightmare that he killed Jimmy in the ring, and he wanted to back out of the fight. The fight promoters got a Catholic priest to talk to him, and he agreed to fight. Much to his horror, he did kill Jimmy in the ring during that fight. He says that it will haunt him forever.
Mike Tyson never killed an opponent in the ring, but during an interview, he says that he is disappointed that he never did. Most boxers want to win in the ring, but they don’t hope to kill their opponents. He really is one of a kind, but not in a good way.
His Wife Cheated With Brad Pitt
Mike Tyson and Robin Givens were going through a divorce in the late ’80s, but they still saw each other regularly. Mike went to visit Robin one night unannounced, and he found her sitting in a car with Brad Pitt. While Brad played tough guys in his movie, he wasn’t a trained boxer like Mike, and he didn’t have a violent streak. According to Mike, Brad was terrified when he caught the two and begged him not to get violent. Mike says that he was angry, but has since gotten over it. Later, it came out that Mike abused Robin during their marriage, so Brad had a reason to be afraid.
His Trainer Pulled a Gun On Him
When Mike was young, he was a criminal. He was locked up plenty of times as a child. When he was 13-years-old, he ended up at a facility in upstate New York called Elmwood. One of the counselors recognized his talent and recommended him to Cus D’Amato, who was a legendary boxing trainer. One of his trainers was Teddy Atlas. He was a trainer and a commentator. He was known for a scar that he had on his face. It ran from the left side of his forehead all the way to his jaw. He got it in a street fight, and it took 400 stitches to close up the wound. Atlas worked very closely with Mike for a long time, but in 1982, the relationship ended abruptly. Mike got too touchy with a young girl who was related to Atlas’ wife. When Atlas found out, he flipped out. He pulled a .38 caliber pistol on Mike, who was just a teenager at the time. Atlas fired the gun but missed on purpose. Cus fired Atlas after the incident, and for over 20 years, Atlas had a grudge against Mike and called him a phony and a liar. In August 2213, the two men made amends. Mike admitted that he was wrong, and the two men shook hands. Atlas said that he gave Mike credit for being a gentleman after the 20-year-old ordeal.
If you were a kid in the ’80s, you likely have memories of playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! on Nintendo. In the game, you are Little Mac. During the game, you battle a series of bizarre and powerful characters until you reach Mike Tyson. Unless you were good, he would knock you out in a single blow. Because Mike hadn’t become the heavyweight champion yet, Nintendo offered him just $50,000 to use his name and likeness for the game. Had he been a champion then, Nintendo would have had to pay millions.
Capcom’s Street Fighter II tried to capitalize on Mike Tyson’s popularity, but they didn’t want to pay him for his likeness. Instead, they created a character who was African-American, and the name was M.Bison. When the game was ready to be released outside Japan, they changed the character’s name to avoid legal troubles. They changed the name to Balrog, but that was all they changed. The character still looked like Mike, and in the game, you can hear him taunting his opponents by saying, “If you fight like that again, I’ll bite your ear off!”
Mike Tyson is known for his love of tigers. Over the years, he has owned several Bengal tigers. Some even slept in his bed. He told Conan O’Brien in 2013 that he was going to kiss his tiger, and the tiger accidentally head-butted him, knocking out his gold teeth.
In 2002, Mike was in financial trouble. It costs about $4,000 a month to feed a tiger, and Mike couldn’t afford it. He sold his tiger, Storm, to Roy Cooper. He is the Indiana tattoo artist who gave Mike his famous facial tattoos. Roy already had three other tigers in the shop, but the USDA removed them for being kept in poor conditions.
Mike starred in the movie, The Hangover, and he had a tiger in the film. In fact, three of the characters stole the tiger, and they were responsible for returning it.
Mike says that he would love to have another tiger, but he couldn’t keep it on his property. He said that his wife would never allow him to bring a tiger in the home and have it around the children.
Mike Tyson has said some pretty far-fetched things, and his gorilla story is out there. According to Mike, he and his then-wife, Robin Givens, were at the zoo. They saw a silverback gorilla bullying other gorillas, and it made Mike mad. He offered the zoo employee $10,000 to open the cage, so Mke could “punch him in the snotbox.” The employee refused. Mike is lucky that the employee did refuse because if he went head-to-head with a gorilla, he never would have won. Chimpanzees have harmed humans in violent encounters, and a male silverback gorilla is twice the size of a chimp.
Mike Tyson spent a lot of his money on his own, but it was his former corrupt manager, Don King, who caused his bankruptcy. King didn’t just steal money for himself; he also put his family members in bogus jobs where they were paid by Mike. King’s daughter Debbie earned $52,000 a year for running Mike’s fan club. When his chauffeur/assistant, Rudy Gonzalez, mentioned it, Mike said he didn’t know he had one. He decided to check it out for himself, so he went to the facility. When he arrived, he found crates of unopened letters, along with provocative undergarments and letters from women.
Mike and Rudy started opening the letters, and Mike found one from a woman. In the letter, she begged Mike to speak to her son, who was dying of cancer. Mike called immediately after reading the letter and found out that it was too late. The woman’s son had died, and Mike burst into tears.