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Interview: Mike Tyson Shares His Greatest Life Lessons

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Before becoming an ironic casting in slapstick comedies, Mike Tyson pulverized any fighter with the nads to square off with him. Here, the former world champion boxer shares lessons learned from the hard knocks he’s given and received

- I had a great teacher. Without Cus (trainer Constantine D'Amato), I would have never been successful. He knew how to peer into my soul, how to inspire me. It wasn’t with money. It was all about glory. He told me that people would look up to me, everybody would want to be your friend and you’d reign with gods. He really did a number on me psychologically but it was good stuff. In a certain way, he was right.

- It was just the will to fight and the determination and the refusing to lose. My preeminence would not be ignored.

- Anger is the worst thing you can [feel] when you’re fighting because that’s not fighting, that’s just one guy with a lot of aggression. He has no plan. A real fighter has to have control and discipline.

- Boxing has a big entertaining exponent to it. You have to be exciting. You have to have some sort of gimmick. I was the Baddest Man on the Planet.

- At the time I was fighting, I think there were four of five billion people on the planet. I believed that none of them could beat me in a fair fight.

- Life is a fight and a struggle just like boxing. Even though you are going to lose, you still got to fight. And you have to fight like you know you’re going to win. Ain’t that some bullshit? You know you’re going to lose but you have to fight like you know you’re going to win. And then what happens, sometimes you win. You remember what happened with me and Buster, right? And Ali and Leon Spinks, right?

- I always wanted to be like guys like Ali and them. Guys like Ali, you almost had to kill them to beat them. There are very few people like that. I don’t think I’m one of them. I always told people I was one of them, but deep down I didn’t know. They are very special people. Can you imagine that? You got to kill them to beat them. They didn’t give a fuck about the money. There are certain fighters like that. That’s their ego. That’s their selfishness. We don’t see them around too much now. Everyone wants money and fame now. Those guys wanted fame until the end of time.

- I would run in place in my [prison] cell for hours. To this day, in my cell that I was in, my footprints are indented into the concrete.

- I overcame adversity. That was something I took great pride in—going to prison for three and a half years, coming out and becoming champion again twice. I don’t who else had done that. I don’t know if anyone is ever going to do that.

- Anything can happen when two human beings get into the ring. —As told to Thomas Golianopoulous

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