Iron Mike gets his own TV show

2011-01-07 07:52

Los Angeles – Mike Tyson – former heavyweight boxing champion, convicted rapist, occasional actor and, it seems, top-flight pigeon fancier.

Tyson (44), the boxer who famously bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear in a 1997 bout, shows a gentler side of himself in an upcoming TV show as a man with a lifelong passion for raising pigeons.

Not just common or garden pigeons, but racing pigeons. Or as Tyson puts it “the creme de la creme of the pigeon world. These are thoroughbred pigeons. Pigeons were man’s first feathered friends”.

Taking on Tyson, which comes to the Animal Planet cable TV channel in March, is a six-part documentary in which the former world heavyweight champion returns to his Brooklyn, New York, neighbourhood to race pigeons.

Tyson, nicknamed Iron Mike for his ferocious boxing style in the 1980s, recalls in the show how as a child he skipped school to escape bullies but found solace and tranquillity raising pigeons.

His pigeon coop is now in a tall house next to the gym where he trained for his famously bruising encounters in the ring.

The documentary shows Tyson and a group of other pigeon fanciers training their birds and readying them for races.

“This is what we do. Our lives are dedicated to pigeons, even when I have been fighting or getting locked up,” Tyson told TV reporters yesterday.

“This is not no hobby. This is something we are going to do until the day we die,” he added.

Tyson was undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion in the 1980s but in 1992 he was convicted of rape and served three years in prison.

He declared bankruptcy in 2003 and retired from professional boxing in 2006.

Since then he has appeared in the TV shows Entourage and Brothers and had a cameo role in the 2009 hit comedy movie The Hangover.

Taking on Tyson focuses on the complex culture of pigeon racing, but is also a window into Tyson’s life now.

“There are things about my life.

I had a pretty colourful past... We go to some places in the past which are a pretty dark place for me,” he said.

Taking on Tyson makes its debut on March 6 on Animal Planet.

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