ONCE dubbed the ‘baddest man on the planet’, former heavyweight boxing champion of the world Mike Tyson says he “feels wonderful, positive”, as he approaches his fifties.
Speaking exclusively to the Limerick Leader ahead of a sold out event in Thomond Park this week where 700 ticket holders heard him discuss his life and controversial boxing career in some detail, ‘Iron Mike’ said he “felt comfortable” to be at the world famous stadium.
“Limerick is really cool, I like Limerick,” he said. “Everybody has been talking about Thomond Park and the rugby scene and it [the stadium] looks pretty impressive.”
The Brooklyn-born boxer, who won win WBC, WBA, and IBF titles at 20 years of age, said he knew that “Irish people are good people and fight people, and it is going to be pretty exciting tonight”.
“I feel wonderful being here, I feel a good energy from the crowd, from Irish people and I am just happy and I want to convey gratitude to them,” said the boxer, who was staying in Dromoland Castle.
Alluding to his controversial career and 1992 conviction for rape, Tyson said people had the wrong idea about him.
“People have misconceptions, I have misconceptions of everybody, you can’t blame them because that is just who human beings are,” said the 46-year-old.
“We are people in a process of learning, that is what human beings are, a learning process, we learn things and do things now that we wouldn’t do when we are younger.”
The New Yorker is settled, is a vegan and teetotaler who later said he has been drug-free “for the last three years” and is now happily married after a controversial life and career.
“I feel wonderful, really I do, I feel good, I feel positive about myself, I feel comfortable being here and there is such a good energy,” he said.
Tyson admitted that it was “a miracle” that he reached 40 and said he was daunted by the prospect of turning 50.
“It is pretty weird because in my mind I think I am still young and cool looking (yet) I look at pictures and think ‘no you are not’,” he laughed.
Speaking about Irish boxers, Tyson said that Olympic gold medal winner Katie Taylor should “definitely” turn professional.
“Yeah, why not, what is the purpose of winning the gold medal, just to have it and show it off? Win a belt next.”
Asked if he had advice for up and coming boxers, he said the professional boxer’s life was “all about sacrifice”.
“It is all about sacrifice, making it your main goal, being that person that you want to be before you even become that person,” he explained.
“Think like that champion. Live a pretty monastic life style, don’t get involved in sexual activity; focus on working, on dedication, on discipline, that is basically what you have to do. It is a really hard life to live to be a fighter. To live by those guidelines is really tough. I never want to live that life again!”