Mike Tyson was ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ but got into fights over pigeons, followed a vegan diet, owns a 40-acre weed ranch and absolutely loves tennis
During his illustrious heyday, Mike Tyson was known as the ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ and though retired, he’s still pretty fearsome.
The 55-year-old boxing legend made a return to the ring in 2020 against Roy Jones Jr and regularly posts training videos showing his lighting fast hands and power have not disappeared.
Tyson reigned supreme over the heavyweight division, while many aspects of his troubled life are well documented – including his rape conviction in 1992.
There is plenty more to the Brooklyn-born fighter than his exploits in the ring and has plenty of colourful and unusual hobbies and habits.
Here, talkSPORT.com looks at some things you may not know about the legendary boxer.
Tyson’s love of pigeons stretches back to his childhood on the streets of Brooklyn and they caused him to have his very first fight.
One kid stole one of his pigeons and ripped its head off, so a 10-year-old Tyson decided to fight him.
“He ripped the bird’s head off, hit me with the bird, threw the blood on me, smacked me around,” Tyson said in an interview.
“So my friend said ‘Mike, fight him. Don’t be afraid, fight him.’ … I just fought, it’s not like I was sensational. I was just flailing away, and I guess I hit him more than he hit me, so I won I guess.”
The birds have been a consistent for Tyson throughout his life and caused him plenty of drama.
He once gave a garbage man a ‘titanic’ right hand after he throw away his favourite pigeon, who had died.
Tyson also broke up with a girlfriend who cooked and ate one of his pigeons.
The heavyweight legend also struck up an unlikely friendship with a Walsall-based pigeon fancier called Horace Potts and met up with him while in England.
He reportedly still has more than 1,000 birds and has been a huge love of his throughout his life.
Tyson feasted on a diet of steak, alcohol and drugs after he finished his fighting career, and that saw his weight balloon up to 27 stone.
Back in 2010, he decided to change to a plant-based diet and helped him lose a lot of weight and he also claims it helped alleviate some of his health problems.
After being vegan for a decade, he decided to go back to meat as he was preparing for his return to the ring in 2020.
Tyson told UFC commentator Joe Rogan on his podcast: “I stopped because of the training and because of what I wanted my body to look like and the strength that I wanted to poses.
“I only eat elk and bison — wild stuff — and I’m starting to feel fit.
“I realised the stuff that’s good for other people — like kale, vegetables and blueberries — for me is really poisonous.”
In the most recent years of his retirement, ‘Iron Mike’ has launched his own cannabis company Tyson Holistic Holdings and Tyson Ranch.
The former undisputed heavyweight champion struggled for years with substance abuse including cocaine, but said he found comfort in marijuana.
In 2020, he revealed he smokes around £33,000 worth per month, but that has now come to a halt.
Tyson has a 40-acre weed ranch in California, which is said to net him around £500,000-a-month.
He was also building a 418-acre weed-themed holiday resort that he hoped would rival the Coachella music festival.
Tyson discovered a love for tennis later in life and has regularly attended matches at the US Open and Indian Wells over the years, sitting in the front row and cheering on his favourite players.
One of the main reasons for him developing his love of the game is through his daughter, Milan.
The 12-year-old is a budding tennis star and has even trained with Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
In a podcast with the tennis coach, Mouratoglou said: “One of your children, Milan, is playing and she’s a good tennis player. She’s talented and very motivated to become a professional.”
Tyson admitted that tennis had ‘changed his life’. He said: “It broadened my horizons and I’m grateful to be involved and meeting everybody. It changed our life.
“Our whole life has changed over tennis. I thought we were doing well and everything, and everything we were doing was making money, but that’s not bigger than my daughter playing tennis.
“She’s bigger than everything in our life now.
“I see her transcending into something she would never have before if she hadn’t got involved in tennis.
“She has confidence. At 11/12 years old, she has confidence in herself.”