Why was Mike Tyson the strongest man
Mike Tyson: "I had to change to survive"
One of the best boxers of all time goes on tour in Germany: Mike Tyson speaks in an interview about his stage program, death struggles - and the state of German boxing.
He was "the worst man on the planet". Mike Tyson has had a unique boxing career - with all its ups and downs. And he's also had fierce battles outside of the ring: Against drugs, alcohol, depression. In 1991 he was found guilty of rape and spent three years in jail.
Now the 51-year-old goes on tour and unpacks in his stage program - about his victories, his defeats and his life.
t-online.de met “Iron Mike” exclusively before the start of the tour today in Vienna. The next day in Munich, the first of a total of ten appearances on the "Champion Tour" should continue.
Even before the start of the appointment, the youngest heavyweight champ in boxing history makes it exciting: The arrival is delayed by several hours. First the interview should take place between 4 and 8 p.m., then around 9:30 p.m. - an unusual time. Then suddenly things should go very quickly again: Tyson's tour manager Radim diving calls: “We need you at the hotel. Right now. ”Shortly after the hasty arrival, the boxing legend also arrives, at 8:09 pm - in a huge tour bus. Tyson and his escort get out at the back entrance of the hotel.
Mike Tyson received Florian Wichert (left) and David Digili at the Hilton Danube Waterfront Hotel in Vienna. The 51-year-old had come from Las Vegas with his entourage. (Source: Mike Tyson Champion Tour 2018)
The first handshake makes him appear in a good mood, relaxed - despite a 15 hour flight from Las Vegas. “It's a pleasure,” Tyson greets us warmly. He sits down for an interview in the conference room of the Hilton Danube Waterfront Hotel directly on the Danube. All around on the tables are boxing gloves and posters that he will sign for paying tour guests. Tyson is considered a lucky bag, sometimes bad and sometimes in a good mood. Political questions are not allowed to be asked any more than questions about his time in prison.
t-online.de: Mr. Tyson, how are you today?
Mike Tyson (51): Very good. Really. I am happy.
If you were to describe yourself currently with a single word - which one would it be?
Phew ...(thinking) Experienced.
You have to explain that!
Experienced in life. I've done things that I shouldn't have done. And I should have done things that I didn't do. I am more experienced now. I live a different life. My thought processes are better, more beneficial for me.
Where does it come from?
About mistakes I've made in life.
You made a lot of bad mistakes.
Sometimes you have to make mistakes to learn from them. Because then you know how to do it right. I've become a different person.
I had to change to survive. I could no longer survive in the boxing world. I didn't even exist anymore. I wanted to go back to the "real world" and just be "Mike". I wanted to try new things, tried my hand at acting(including an appearance in the hit movie "Hangover", editor's note). That's why I have my shows - I try to keep myself busy.
In an interview with the US magazine “Sports Illustrated” you said a while ago that you would no longer recognize yourself when you saw pictures from your active days.
Oh yeah! This is a completely different person. This person just wanted to fight and beat people up. He wanted to show people: “Hey, I'm the greatest(leight)“.
Is it a strange feeling for you to see pictures from your active time?
Yes, completely surreal. I know I did this before, but I often try to forget about it.
The legendary fight between Mike Tyson (left) and Evander Holyfield in 1997, in which Tyson bit off part of the right ear of the superior opponent out of frustration with the course of the fight. He was disqualified for this after the third round. (Source: UPI Phote / imago images)
Because I want to focus on other things. To today.
Over the years, you have also spoken very openly about other aspects of your career, for example your addiction problems. How hard was it to open up to the world like that?
Not at all! I am not ashamed of it, I am not embarrassed. And that's probably why I can talk about it so freely.
What do you mean?
These problems affected me personally. I was sick and there was nothing I could do about it. But I knew that I was sick, that it wasn't normal. So it was also clear to me: it had to stop at some point.
Who helped you with this?
Hillary Clinton once said, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” I would put it this way: It took a whole village to get me off of drugs and alcohol. I am so happy that I made it. All of these things are in my past, but I always have to keep them in mind. I keep thinking that if I don't take it seriously, it could happen again.
Sounds like a whole new perspective ...
Yes, and I am very grateful for that.
Are you nervous before going on stage to talk about it?
Sure, of course! I'm nervous every time.
Is it your first time in Germany?
I've been there before, in Düsseldorf, for a back examination.
Born on June 30, 1966 in Brooklyn, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight world champion in boxing history at the age of 20 years and 144 days in 1986 - and later the first to be recognized as a titleholder by the three boxing associations WBC, WBA and IBF. He celebrated a total of 50 wins in 58 fights, 44 of them by knockout.
In 1997 he lost his boxing license for an indefinite period after he had bitten off a piece of his opponent Holyfield's right ear in the third round and was disqualified. Outside the ring, too, he made headlines. In 1991 he was found guilty of rape and sentenced to six years in prison. Three of them were suspended.
So actually not a nice memory ...
Yes, yes! It's a very good memory. I was during these "White Nights" (A street festival where everything is decorated in white, editor's note.) There. The color made it look like it was daytime even in the evening. My wife loved it.
What do you expect from your performances?
To be honest: I don't even know what to expect (laughs). I've never been in Germany any longer, I don't know the people. But it's going to be a new and exciting experience and I'm really looking forward to it.
What do you associate with Germany?
When I think of Germany, the first thing I think of is Max Schmeling (German heavyweight world champion between 1930 and 32, editor's note.). Then I also think of World War II and everything that happened over there. In the USA they constantly show films about World War II on a channel. I learned a lot about the history of the country in this way.
Do you also know a current German boxer?
Hm ... maybe the Klitschkos?
Unfortunately, they started under the Ukrainian flag and have now ended their careers.
Yes ... but unfortunately I don't know anyone else. German boxing is apparently in a deep crisis. But do you know what?
German boxing will come back again. There will always be strong German boxers. History proves it. I mean, do you remember Axel Schulz?
Of course. His fight against George Foreman in 1995 is German boxing history. Schulz lost to defending champion Foreman due to a controversial decision.
He's a great guy. He actually won the fight back then, didn't he? But that's exactly how legends are born.
Was there a fight between you and Axel Schulz?
I can't remember that. Maybe. I guess so. But I was older when he was having his heyday.
How do you rate your successors in the heavyweight division? Anthony Joshua, for example, the new top star ...
His fight against Wladimir Klitschko was great.
You also criticized him ...
For good reason: He no longer fights like he did in the fight against Klitschko. His first opponent after that was such a smaller one.
The French Carlos Takam.
That caused him a lot of problems. The fight ended even though he did not knock him to the ground.
A controversial technical knockout in the tenth round ...
And then came Joseph Parker, it wasn't a nice fight. For the first time in his professional career, Joshua did not win by knockout.
Mike Tyson in conversation with t-online.de: He talks lively, gesticulates a lot and is fully involved. (Source: Mike Tyson Champion Tour 2018)
Have the expectations of him been too high since defeating Klitschko?
Joshua keeps the halls full, everyone wants to see him. Therefore, every opponent will try to make it particularly difficult for him. They will run away from him, they will cling, and he will have to adjust to it. He is unhappy because he can no longer knock out his opponents as easily as he used to.
Not a very flattering verdict ...
Oh, he'll adapt. He's a good boxer. He just has to add a little more.
Where do you place the two Klitschkos in boxing history?
They have had great careers! Do you know why? Because they learned from their defeats. They both lost a couple of times, but they didn't give up. You came back and ruled heavyweight boxing for a long time. For me they are both in the top 5 of all time!
The two were often blamed for not having much competition at their weddings.
But they hit everyone who was there. What else should they do? I have a lot of respect for both of them.
How do you see the development in boxing in general over the last few years?
Boxing and contact sports in general have taken the same route: if there is an interruption, the fans want to party immediately. The entertainment factor has become so important. If you've attended a boxing event before, you'd have to wait for the boxers to come to the ring - without anything. No music, no nothing!
What do you like better?
Oh, clearly the show aspect of boxing today. After all, you have to grab people.
Would you like to be a boxer these days?
Well, they're definitely paid better today (laughs).
You once called yourself a "pessimistic pacifist" ...
Oh, I've always been a clown (laughs).
Do you want to take it back?
No way! I'm just a harmless guy who no longer has any faith in this world (laughs).
No (laughs). That was just a joke. Should I describe myself?
If you want.
Hm. I just want to develop over time, get better. And above all: Become the best father I can be.
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