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Mike Tyson has opened up about how his difficult childhood shaped his career in the boxing ring.
The former heavyweight champion of the world, who remains the youngest boxer in history to win such a title, revealed in a recent interview that fights he had as a child first stimulated his interest in sport.
"I must've had three or four street fights a day," he told ValuEntainment. "From like age nine... I was 200lbs at age 12.
Mike Tyson on his childhood: "I must've had three or four [street] fights a day. From like age nine... I was 200lbs at age 12. I was fighting the kid, then fighting their fathers. They were crying, went home and got their father. Then I would fight the father." [@ValuetainmentTV] pic.twitter.com/my9fw3dMox- Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) September 19, 2021
I was fighting the kid, then fighting their fathers. They were crying, went home and got their fighter. Then I would fight their father."
Tyson's scraps as a child saw him end up in trouble with the law. By the age of 13, the boy from Brooklyn had been arrested a staggering 38 times.
"At one time (Brooklyn) looked nice," he explained in an episode of his Hot Boxin' podcast last year. "Then I realised we had to move and the more we moved, the darker it got... whatever could be done to a human being was being done. Everybody in my family was smart. They knew how to read, write. They were f******* phenomenal and I didn't know how to do that. That just wasn't who I was.
I saw guys on the corner and I realised on the corner, nobody f***** with those guys. If they had fights, they fought on the corner among themselves, whatever- but I knew nobody outside of that crew messed with those guys on the corner. So I wanted to be a street guy, so bad.
I was always getting beaten up and bullied and people were taking stuff from me. I didn't feel safe at home."
Tyson went on to describe his first ever fight, which was against an older boy who stole one of his beloved pigeons.
"My first fight this guy took one of my pigeons," he continued. "So I said 'please, give me my bird back.' He was an older guy, I must have been 9... he was a teenager. He took my bird's head off and hit me with the f****** bird. And some guy who used to bully me said 'yo man, fight him back'. I fought back. I'd never fought nobody before.
And you know what- I can fight real good. So after that, everybody would bring other kids from different neighbourhoods to fight me for money. I'm not showing off or bragging... I was just really a good fighter.
My whole life has been violent and I'm not a violent person. Isn't that crazy?"
Tyson's instincts as a street fighter served him extremely well when turning professional in 1985. In 58 fights, the 55 year old won an extraordinary 50, 44 of which were by knock-out.
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