'Bad guy' Tyson thinks pigeons are a knockout
Published 24/01/2011 | 05:00
MIKE TYSON, the self-styled "baddest man on the planet", will emerge in a television show as a former boxer with uncanny similarities to the one played by Marlon Brando in 1954.
Tyson's fascination with pigeons, to be featured in a six-part series on the Animal Planet channel, will call to mind Terry Malloy, the character that earned Brando an Oscar in 'On The Waterfront'.
Both found solace in the raising of birds on the rooftops of New Jersey. Like Brando's character, Tyson has long raised pigeons, starting where he grew up in a tough part of Brooklyn, New York.
He now keeps his birds at another coop in New Jersey, next to the gym where he trained for fights.
The heavyweight, who infamously bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear in a 1997 fight, still spends hours watching his birds, and says they have given him comfort during his turbulent life. He has owned up to 350 of them at a time.
In the show, to be broadcast from March 6, Tyson will describe how he was bullied as a child and would miss school to be with his pigeons.
He threw his first punch at the age of 10 when a bully killed one of his birds.
"This was the first thing I ever loved in my life, the pigeon.
"I don't know why, I feel ridiculous just trying to explain it. They're so much like people," he says.
"This ain't no hobby, I've been dedicated to pigeons, even when I have been fighting or getting locked up. What I love about the pigeon is their loyalty."
His series, 'Taking on Tyson', will follow the former boxer as he fulfils a dream to race his pigeons competitively.
Tyson, the former undisputed world champion, got rather further in his fight career than Malloy, a boxer who famously "coulda been a contender" but who was forced to take a dive.
The television programme has already been criticised by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals which claims that racing can be "dangerous and traumatic" for pigeons.
Tyson (44) was convicted of rape in 1992 and served three years in prison. His new show follows a highly successful cameo role in the 2009 comedy 'The Hangover'. (© Daily Telegraph London)