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Mike Tyson Interview: Australia, Drugs, Se...

Glax0r's Photo Glax0r 13 Oct 2012

IN an extraordinary interview, Mike Tyson pulls no punches as he talks about about coming to our shores for the first time, Julia Gillard and why deep down he's really a coward.
What do I call you?

Mike. Just call me Mike, please.

Does anything feel better than winning?

That's a good feeling, but to know that you put in the work and you did it all. Even in a losing bout, knowing that you gave your best and you can improve on that ... that's the greatest feeling.

Having a defeat and then winning again, there's nothing like it. Overcoming adversity is better than even winning.

What's the sweetest win you ever had?

Larry Holmes. Because I remember when I was a little boy in 1980, October 2, Cus (D'Amato) took me and a couple of the other young fighters to close circuit to watch Muhammad Ali fight Larry Holmes. After the fight, we had a 45-minute drive home to Catskill from Albany.

The only thing you could hear in the car was the gas. Everything was dead silent on that trip.

Australia, drugs, sexism and the myth of Iron Mike Tyson

Taylor Auerbach, The Sunday Telegraph

And the next morning Cus was on the phone to Muhammad and Cus was so hurt. He said: "Why did you let that man beat on you like that Muhammad?"

Then he said I have a young black kid who's going to be the heavyweight champ of the world. I'd like you to talk to him, his name is Mike. And I talked to Ali and he said he was sick, he took medicine that made him sick. And I was just a little boy of 15 or 14, but I remember saying this: "When I get big, I'm going to get him for you."

What are your thoughts about Muhammad Ali?

I think he's the greatest fighter of all time. It had nothing to do with his skill. His character as a fighter. He's the kind of man, you've got to kill him to beat him.

He has so much pride and dignity, maybe it's a fault. A guy like me wants to win fights and tell you I'm the best, I'm the champion. Ali wants you to say, it don't matter if you're black, white, if you say "you're my champ, Ali".

Ali will fight to the death for you. There don't have to be no money, just for that alone he'll fight to the death for you. Not many fighters would do that.

Was he a reason behind why you became Muslim?

No, not at all, because he converted to the Nation of Islam and it's a different form of Islam and religion that I practise.

I think he eventually transformed to the orthodox religion, but I just thought of the character of the man, he was a great man.

I loved him . . he looks more like a model than a heavyweight champion. But he's the kind of guy - man, he has to be dead; if he's not dead, you didn't win the fight yet. That's what people don't realise about Ali. They see him running around, but he's very game. His pain threshold is unbelievable, it's inconceivable.

You must have been nervous to talk to him?

I was nervous, but I was very excited because being with Cus, I spoke with a lot of great fighters. I spoke on the phone with a lot of fighters - Johnny Wilson, Tommy Loughran, I talked with a lot of great, legendary fighters with Cus that ain't around no more, like from the '20s.

I just so happened to talk to Muhammad Ali and I was pretty sad because the night before that I'd seen him get shellacked real good and it was just a bad day for all of us. We've never been the same, I remember that day and It was October 2, 1980. I'll never forget it.

Did it hurt you more than some of your own losses?

It hurt me a lot because I'd never seen Ali fight, but I'd heard so many wonderful things from Cus about him.

Cus admired him so much ... I felt so bad for Cus, he didn't talk the whole ride. We all did the same thing, we were scared to mention a f ... ing word because Cus didn't say a word. It sounded just like a funeral.

All you could hear was the goddamn motor.

I've never forgotten that moment in my life, it was like we were all too scared to say a word. We were scared to breathe. It was the most intense moment of my life.

What's the best you've ever felt after a fight?

When I saw Roberto Duran fight Sugar Ray Leonard, it was June 20, 1980, I'll never forget that because I never got that feeling again in my whole career. I never felt that feeling of excitement and enthusiasm in my whole life, that's the only time I've felt that feeling.

And my whole life I've been trying to feel that feeling again and it never came back. I never got that feeling again.

Didn't you get the feeling from drugs?

Listen, those are fake. You ain't never gonna feel that feeling. From all the drugs I took, and I took serious drugs, I never felt the feeling that I felt when I watched Duran fighting Leonard in Montreal on television.

That feeling never came back to me ... when I felt that feeling, I knew I wanted to be a fighter. That put the stamp of approval, this is what I want to do with my life.

Did you know you were going to be champ one day?

Cus was telling me that. He was serious and he converted that seriousness into me. I was dead serious about it. I didn't want anybody to say anything negative about me.

What would you say to a 21-year-old Mike Tyson now?

I was an emotionally disturbed guy back then, I had no grip on my emotions. I just wasn't ready for that life.

I wanted to win the championship and that's all I had my mind on since I was 13, 14. And nothing came between that. Maybe one time I fell in love with a childhood girl, but that was it. I never wanted to do anything else but be heavyweight champ. I read about all the fighters, I read their lifestyles, I read their moves, I knew how they shook hands, I knew how they're arrogant, I copied everything they said, I wanted to be like them.

Did you get carried away?

I got carried away too much. I was an insecure guy, you know?

I was always afraid of fighting but I used to always be mean, I used to want to scare the other guys. I wanted to win so bad.

If you and Ali fought at your peaks, who would've won?

Nobody could ever beat Muhammad Ali when he's right because he has qualities that you can't see. He has belief and confidence in himself and you don't see those things.

You see how much he weighs, how long's his reach, how tall he is, how many fights he won, that's all on statistics. But it's what we don't see.

The deep down burning confidence he had in himself and will to win. I would always give my best to fight anybody. I would fight him to the end like I can beat him, but Ali's the greatest fighter of all time.

Do you still feel like you're fighting even though you're not boxing?

Life is a fight. Everyone's fighting in life because life is not easy. Nobody's going to die and leave this planet without enduring some kind of pain and suffering, some kind of education within the cortex of some pain.

That's what life is about. Life is about endurance. Life is not about five-second fights, 10-second fights, one-round fights, life is about endurance and how long you can go and how much you can endure.

That's why boxing is like a metaphor of life so much. That's why people gravitate to boxing, because not only do they see them win, they see them take punishment and they see them down and they see that these guys are not going to quit.

Even if they lose a fight, they say "God, let's go back to the drawing board". What kind of man is this? We just saw him get his brains battered and he's getting ready to go through this again in another six weeks or two months.

Would you box again?

Never again, but if I was 18 or 19 years old, yes.

You're going to be in Australia soon, what are your thoughts?

Oh, man, I'm really excited,

I've never been there. I've met a lot of people who have friends there and I'm looking really forward to coming there, it's going to be awesome.

And I'm glad I'm coming in the state that I'm coming in now because if I came a few years earlier I probably would have been immature, chasing all the girls around, probably drinking and losing respect for myself.

I'm so glad I'm going to be in a proper state of mind, a mature state of mind and my family's going to be over there.

I'm just very ecstatic to be at this point in my life, to be respectful and to conduct myself as so.

Are you in the best state Australia could ever see you in?

It's the best state I've ever seen myself in. You know, you're not going to see me in the strip clubs in Australia, you're not going to see me out in the clubs in Australia, I'm not going to be getting high in Australia.

I'm just going to be going there and enjoying myself, and then hope the people enjoy themselves as well.

We have a female Prime Minister in Julia Gillard, you know?

Yeah, I think it's wonderful for the country.

She made a speech about misogyny and sexism the other day.

I saw that on television last night ... I didn't know that was the Australian Prime Minister, but I saw that last night.

I think, to be honest, history proves that she's right.

I'm not saying she's right personally, but history proves she's right. I'm not saying that I'm on her side, I'm just going by the facts of what history proves that most males are that way.

We can't help that, society told us to be that way. We have to within ourselves overcome that thinking, change that thinking, and then everybody might be on equal terms.

Our opposition leader Tony Abbott has been called a sexist, what would you say to him?

That's the situation that the Prime Minister and himself have to deal with. And they have to deal with that with God. I can't judge nobody, I have my own history with people and crime and women and everything. So I'm not going to judge him.

We have a learning process ... that's what we are as people and as time goes on, maybe we'll learn and think differently. I'm not saying he's a bad guy for thinking that, I'm just saying sometimes we get caught up with our society.

In 2005, you said your life was a waste, do you still think that?

My life hasn't been a waste. You really have to think about it. When I was fighting I was pretty much strung out. I was on all types of medicine, I had all types of emotional problems.

I had a lot of bitterness back then and I was just a totally different person that needed to be re-educated about life and about society and about myself.

Mike, as someone who has always looked up to you, what's something you can tell me that you've never told anyone else?

(Pause) I'm a coward. But I'm capable of doing extraordinarily brave things.

You see yourself as a coward?

I think so. I feel that way a lot ... I have the same feelings as one. I may not conduct myself as one, but I feel like one.

Mike Tyson will be in Australia for his international speaking tour. See him in Sydney on November 17. Tickets are available from Ticketek.

RickS's Photo RickS 13 Oct 2012

Good interview.

chewbie's Photo chewbie 15 Oct 2012

Love this dude

ATLien's Photo ATLien 16 Oct 2012

Tyson rarely if ever fails to be a good interview.

scarecrow's Photo scarecrow 17 Oct 2012

Interesting and sad  to hear he never felt as good as when watching Duran beat Leonard -- great fight-- my all time favourite.

rayajr's Photo rayajr 19 Oct 2012

One of the most honest dudes out there. Wish he was a few years younger. Would love to see him back in the ring.


 scarecrow, on 17 October 2012 - 03:55 AM, said:

Interesting and sad  to hear he never felt as good as when watching Duran beat Leonard -- great fight-- my all time favourite.

Two greats blasting the living shit out of each other... their hand speed and intensity was something to behold.

scarecrow's Photo scarecrow 20 Oct 2012

 ROCKYMARSHMELLOW, on 20 October 2012 - 02:07 PM, said:

Two greats blasting the living shit out of each other... their hand speed and intensity was something to behold.
And back when title fights went 15 --- amazing stamina those guys had


 scarecrow, on 20 October 2012 - 02:56 PM, said:

And back when title fights went 15 --- amazing stamina those guys had

Yep, definitely miss the 15 rounders.  A lot fights were sorted out in the championship rounds of the 13th, 14th and 15th rounds.  I hate it when a fight just starts getting tasty late on and then the 12th comes to quick, I always get disappointed and think if it was a 15 rounder we would of had a clear winner or may be a KO.