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Mike Tyson Nears Full Circle with Iron Mike Promotions


In recent years, the 47 year old “Iron” Mike’s nickname has taken on a new meaning. A depth of character many critics said Tyson did not possess has been forged through public tragedy and quiet triumph. Tyson’s iron will has been forged through the death of his daughter, battles with addiction and losses both professional and financial. And yet the former two time heavyweight champ has risen from the ashes with a hit Broadway show soon to premier on HBO and a six-part series on FoxSports called Being: Mike Tyson debuting September 22, . Friday, the former “baddest man on the planet” makes his foray into the world of boxing promoting. On a Monday morning conference call, Tyson spoke with reporters to talk about his company’s debut at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York featuring IBF Super Featherweight champion Argenis "La Tormenta" Mendez, (21-2, (11) versus Arash Usmanee, (20-1, (10) and Claudio "The Matrix" Marrero, (14-0, (11) fights Argentina’s Jesus Cueller, (22-1, (18) for the vacant WBA interim Featherweight title. The card is the ESPN Friday Night Fights finale.


“When I [was first approached by] the gentleman [CEO and co-founder of Iron Mike Productions ]Garry Jonas, the great business man, I didn’t want to get involved with boxing at first,” said Tyson. “I know it was going to be a headache. My wife said, ’Let’s try it out.’ So we started this business. We have two world title championship fights [on this debut]. I am just happy to be back involved with boxing.”

Tyson was famously developed from youth penitentiary troublemaker to champion by Cus D’Amato at his upstate New York home/gym. Before Tyson could become champion, D’Amato died. In some ways, Tyson sounded as if he’d like to complete what Cus never go to with Tyson: He wants to make a champion from scratch and guide him through the devil’s playground that is boxing.


“I like promoting. Promoting’s good but basically I want to work my way in on the training tip. I really like training fighters and that is what I want to do, as well. This is a dream come true for me and I am just fortunate to be involved,” said Tyson.


Tyson says that while he has yet to train a fighter, that is only because he has yet to find one he likes.


“I would prefer signing a fighter from the amateurs. That’s the best way to do it. You know you build these guys the way you want instead of taking somebody else’s bad habits and switching them from things they’ve been doing for ten or fifteen years since they were a baby. I’m interested in finding young kids and developing them. Right off the streets If I see kids fighting on the street, I will take them to the gym. This is just how it is. That’s how it was with me. Right out of the juvenile detention center. ’You fight. Oh, you’re a tough guy. You want to know how to really fight? Come with me this guy [Cus D’Amato]. That’s how it was,” explained Tyson who respected D’Amato’s intelligence and toughness. He was trained by D’Amato to respect history and to understand the art of becoming an attraction as well as a skilled warrior.


“In order to [become a champion] you have to have a certain kind of behavior,” said Tyson. “You cant just keep that same brutish attitude and become a gentleman fighter. No way, brother. You going to be a big name fighter you’re going to be a gentleman.”


Previously Acquinity Sports, Iron Mike Productions has a very respectable stable that includes IBF super featherweight titleholder Argenis Mendis, who fights Friday, Yudel Johnson, Claudio Marrero, and Isiah Thomas among others. While Jonas is clearly the businessman in the relationship, Tyson is going to be the sage who understands boxing on a level few do.


It’s hard to think of anyone better suited for the job. Michael Gerard Tyson has at one time or another represented all that is good and bad about boxing; a natural born heavyweight force who went from the hard streets of Brownsville, mugging old women and knocking out a garbage man to youth detention center to the Catskills where he would be molded into the youngest heavyweight champion of all time. At the point before everything turned around, Tyson admitted on the call that he was living a life that would eventually kill him if he didn’t stop.


“Well, check this out: I was planning on killing myself. Somehow my wife found out. She helped me through some problems. She was just my friend at the time. I asked her to come hang out with me. ’Come spend some time with me in Vegas. ’ We started spending time together. She went home. She came back and then she got pregnant. She got pregnant and she had to go prison in two weeks. Then she came back after six-seven months and she started talking about building a company.”


The idea would lead Tyson to doing movies like the successful Hangover series, TV including the series and the HBO televised Spike Lee directed one man show.


A broke Tyson, driving in the fast lane of cocaine and excess, was incredulous at this plan.


“And when she is saying this, I’m thinking ’Look at the state we are in,” said Tyson, who shined her on at the time. “Never in a thousand years did I plan on doing that.”


Soon after, Tyson and his now wife, Kiki, saw “Chazz Palminteri’s “A Bronx Tale” on stage and everything changed.


“It was breathtaking,”You didn’t hear he audience talk. Everything was dead silent. You could hear a mouse piss on cotton. After that show, I said ’Baby, I think I could do this.”


Four years or so removed from that moment, Tyson is now on a roll. But he says that while he will be there to point out the pitfalls on the road to and through success, he can’t make choices for his fighters.


“Hey listen, I’m not in no position to stop anyone from hurting themselves or doing something that is going to hurt them. I cant stoop anybody from hurting themselves. The greatest psychiatrist can’t stop somebody from hurting themselves. Its very difficult to learn from somebody else’s experience. That’s real talk. The only thing I can tell is what I experienced. That’s the only thing I can tell them is what could happen. How you can go crazy over this stuff. Other than that I cant do anything. I’m not a magician. I’m not a hit man. I can’t make anybody do anything. I cant make my kids do anything. How am I going to make a grown man do anything? Only thing I can do is suggest. Give them a hand. Lead them in the right direction if he’s willing to go. I’m not going to go here and say ’I am going to stop these guys from spending their money and getting high and partying I don’t know if I could do that. That stuff is bigger than me.”


Tyson said the road to success, personal redemption or simple happiness is a personal one each person must travel in their own way.


“This is when it’s an inside job,” he said. “We have to look within because if we are looking for happiness on the outside, we are going to fail miserably. Its all an inside job. “


In his 1997 rematch with Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson made boxing history when he asked for steroid testing before and after their rematch. Acording to George Willis’ excellent “The Bite Fight” Holyfield agreed with the stipulation that Nevada not release any results until after the fight. It was uncertain to Willis if those tests ever took place, in a recent interview on


16 years later, performance enhancing drugs abuse in boxing has become a hot button issue. Tyson spoke passionately on the need for more stringent PED testing in boxing.


“Hey listen, if my fighter is clean and the other guy is not clean and my fighter goes to the hospital, then what’s the situation? I don’t know. Of course I want my fighter clean. I want his opponent clean as well. You know? That’s what it is. I want everybody clean, you know? This is insane,” said Tyson.


Mike Tyson has fought his way from the bottom to the top and back again only to repeat the process more than a few more times after that. No longer a pariah in the sport, he is in fact, one of its most enduring and endearing warriors. Will he ever get all the way back to the top again? From the sound of him, he already has.


Said a cheery and wide open Tyson, “I owe too many bills. I have too many disappointments with taxes and untrustworthy managers. I’ve never going to be wealthy again but I can still give back to the game that gave me so much. And that means more to me than having money even. Just being around those guys is great for me.”

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