Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Mike Tyson’s advice to Pacquiao: ‘Never take success for granted’

Posted by chardyboy on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 0 comments

source:By Alex Y. Vergara
Philippine Daily Inquirer

On kids-‘You can only steer them so much. They’re from us, but not of us.’ The former ‘baddest man on the planet’ gives words of wisdom at a presscon for a docu-drama on his passion for pigeons

NEW YORK—“IF I tell you I’m humble, then I’m not humble. Anyone who tells you ‘I’m humble,’ he’s not really humble.”
Coming from an infamous former world heavyweight boxing champion once dubbed by promoters as the “baddest man on the planet,” such words sounded surreal.

But Mike Tyson, also known for his short temper and reputation for getting physical with women, seemed like a changed man as he faced a group of foreign journalists early March at one of the Ritz Carlton’s function rooms in Battery Park.

He was chatty, upbeat and self-effacing, as he talked about his troubled past, including his cocaine addiction, current projects and prospects for the future. Although he didn’t balk at saying the F word, he managed to talk sensibly on almost anything thrown his way, including his parenting style.

“I’m not saying that I’m a great parent,” he said. “Sometimes I should be shot for impersonating a parent. I just want to put good qualities in them. You can only steer them so much. They’re from us, but not of us.

Like a young, well-conditioned boxer, he was able to quickly connect with journalists as they took turns asking him all sorts of questions, from prospects for making a comeback as a boxer at 44 (not a chance), to who he thinks is the world’s greatest boxer (Muhammad Ali, without a doubt).

He talked about his lifelong battle with the bulge, and how he spends hours on the treadmill. A convert to Islam even during his heady days in the ring, Tyson also recently turned vegan for health reasons.

Since diabetes runs in the family (his mother and sister died from diabetes-related complications), his main goal these days, he said, was to simply maintain a healthy body that’s strong enough to “carry my head.”

Raiser to racer

His main agenda, of course, was to promote “Taking on Tyson,” a six-part “docu-drama” (which, its star insisted, is the same as a reality TV show) on how the former champ turned from pigeon raiser to pigeon racer.

Tyson has several pigeon coops in the East Coast, but his favorite by far is the one in Jersey City, owned by good friend Mario Costa. He also took in fellow New Yorker Vinnie Torre, known in the sport as the godfather of competitive pigeon racing, as mentor and adviser.

The Roman brothers maintain the coop, but whenever Tyson is in the area, he cleans the cages and feeds the pigeons himself, said Costa.

“He’s really hands-on,” added Costa, who has known Tyson since 1983 and is like a brother to him. “He never misses the chance to come here whenever he’s in town.”

With Tyson, these men make up his team, dubbed Tyson’s Corner. The place, which also goes by the same name, is not only home to some of Tyson’s best racing pigeons. Through the decades, it has become the man’s sanctuary through the low and high points of his life (See related story).

“Taking on Tyson,” which will have its Asian premier on May 10 on Animal Planet, caught Tyson during its initial episode in one of his pensive moods.

But Tyson is no Johnny-come-lately when it comes to raising pigeons, which he was doing before he became one of the world’s best boxers. He became a pigeon racer fairly recently.

In fact, if it weren’t for pigeons, he probably wouldn’t have become a boxer. As a kid, he said, he’d hang around pigeon supply stores and volunteer to carry stuff regulars, especially the elderly, bought. He’d even help them clean coops.

“As a reward, they’d give me a bird,” he said. “I’d look for an abandoned building and put the pigeon in a box.”

First punch

Tyson threw his first punch when a neighborhood bully killed one of his pigeons and threw it in his face. Fat, bespectacled and wearing “funny clothes,” he found himself always on the defensive as bigger, meaner kids picked on him.

The New York native also shared bits and pieces of his life while growing up in the ’hood (his dad left them when he was 2, and his mom died when he was 16) and how he dotes on his two kids, Milan and Morocco, with current wife Lakiha Spicer. He’s been married thrice, and has eight children with different women.

The turnaround, he said, happened when daughter Exodus, then 4, died several years ago. She was found at home, tangled in a cord attached to a treadmill.

“When she passed away, I thought life was over,”
he said. “But I realized life had just begun, because now I have to live for her by trying my best to set good examples and not to live the way I’ve been living in the past.”

Instead of dwelling on such setbacks, Tyson tried to keep the mood light. Instead of regretting what could have been, he steered the conversation to what could be, including his promising career as a comedian.

His guest appearance in the hit comedy movie “The Hangover,” for instance, has been so well received that he will be seen reprising his role in the sequel.

At the same time, he also blasted Americans’ penchant for having an “orgasm 24 hours a day.”

“Americans are spoiled,” he said. “They want excitement, happiness, entertainment every second, everyday. That’s not the real world. You have to experience adversity to enjoy happiness.”
It also dawned on him that he’s been out of the limelight too long when he realized that he didn’t recognize a single face among the roomful of reporters.

“I used to know almost everybody by name,” he said. “But I’m thankful that you all came out of your way to hear what I have to say.”
Unsolicited advice

Upon learning that this reporter is from the Philippines, he broke into a smile, revealing his small, trademark gapped teeth, before saying, “Ah, Manny Pacquiao.”

We took it as an opportunity to ask for unsolicited advice on what he thought Pacquiao should still do.

“He should always have a passion for life, and never take it and his success for granted because they’re fleeting,” he said. “He should also be prepared to become just another face and watch other people take his place. He shouldn’t get too stuck with what’s going on because that’s just a small duration of his life. When it’s all over, he’s still a human being.”

Convicted of rape at the height of his career in the early ’90s, “Iron Mike,” as he was also nicknamed then, made a comeback after his release from jail three years later.

During a rematch with then reigning heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, Tyson bit and spat out part of his opponent’s ear. No one in the room dared asked him about that episode, and Tyson, at one point, quickly brushed aside a question on who his posse of friends in the front row were.

“That’s none of your business,” he snapped at the reporter. Indeed, some old habits die hard.

He also made his displeasure palpable when a Danish broadcast journalist, who wanted his opinion on the reported Holyfield-Nealson fight, described Brian Nealson as “fat and old.”

“Wow, that’s really nice, man,” said Tyson, trying to rein himself in as the reporter videotaped his reaction. “That’s really f--king nice.”

Asked what was the best advice he’s gotten so far, Tyson had to pause for a few seconds before producing this gem.

“One of them is, you’re old too soon, and you’re smart too late,”
he said. “You also have to learn to let go of everything. The essence of happiness and oneness is to simply let go.”

“Taking on Tyson” airs on Animal Planet every Tuesday (10 p.m., Sin/HK/Mnl) beginning May 10. It encores Saturdays (12 noon), Sundays (6 p.m.) and the following Tuesdays (4 p.m.)


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