Mike Tyson admits to being high on drugs during major fights - and using a fake penis to avoid detection
MIKE Tyson was high on drugs during some of his major fights and used a fake penis filled with someone else's urine to fool drug-testers, he has admitted for the first time.
The former world heavyweight boxing champion disclosed in a new tell-all memoir that he spent a significant stretch of his turbulent career addicted to cocaine and marijuana.
“I was a full-blown cokehead,” Tyson wrote in Undisputed Truth, published on Tuesday. Recalling his shock 2004 loss to Britain's Danny Williams, he revealed he was taking drugs until shortly before the fight.
Tyson, now 47 and retired, described his ferocious appetite for drink and drugs that dated back to trying cocaine at the age of 11 and first being given alcohol as a baby in New York.
He said that he was high before taking to the ring for a match against Lou Savarese in Glasgow in June 2000 – and came up with an ingenious method to prevent detection by the sport's official testers.
Confessing he had taken "blow" and "pot" before the bout, he said: “I had to use my whizzer, which was a fake penis where you put in someone’s clean urine to pass your drug test.”
He blamed a $200,000 fine for testing positive for marijuana after a 2000 fight against David Golota in Detroit on the fact that he was tested before having a chance to get the 'whizzer' from a member of his team, whom he claims typically carried the device from fight to fight.
Tyson explained he had taken cocaine before a notorious televised press conference with Lennox Lewis in New York in January 2002, which descended into an onstage brawl between the rival camps.
“I lost my mind,” Tyson recalled. “I looked over at him and wanted to hit the motherf---er.” As the pair of heavyweights tussled, Tyson bit into one of Lewis's legs.
Tyson, the youngest boxer ever to win the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles, said he regrets that his drug use led to “Herculean" mood swings.
After several years of rehabilitation treatment - between staging a one-man show, appearing in the film The Hangover and socialising with A-list celebrities such as Victoria Beckham - Tyson said in August this year that he was close to death due to his chronic alcoholism.
However in his memoir he said his prodigious consumption had made sense at the time. “The history of war is the history of drugs,” he wrote. “Every great general and warrior from the beginning of time was high.”
Tyson's days of wild partying had already begun when he faced Britain's Frank Bruno for the first time, in Las Vegas, in a bout that had millions of British supporters gripped in February 1989.
While admitting that he was in such poor shape that “Bruno should have kicked my ass”, Tyson dismissed the notion that he was hurt by Bruno's memorable left hook at the end of the first round.
The blow left Tyson staggering for the first time in his professional career and notoriously caused the British commentator Harry Carpenter to forget his impartiality and say on-air: “Get in there, Frank”.
“People made a big deal that I was wobbled with the punches, but that wasn’t so,” Tyson claimed. Having regained his composure, the American went on to claim a technical knock-out in round five.
By the time the pair met again seven years later, Tyson had been convicted of raping Desiree Washington, a contestant in the Miss Black America pageant in Indianapolis, and jailed for three years.
Tyson continues to deny rape and railed against what he claims to be the injustice of his punishment. Yet he disclosed that his sentence was comfortable: he ate lobster in prison and even embarked on an affair with his drugs counsellor.
While in jail he also took the opportunity to read great literature by authors such as Marx, Shakespeare and Tolstoy, but drew the line at Hemingway, whom he described as “too much of a downer”.
He recalled being booed by “rabid" English supporters, who sang about him being a rapist, as he approached the ring for his rematch against Bruno in Las Vegas in 1996, However Bruno, who was defending his WBC Heavyweight Championship, “smelled of fear” and was dispatched a minute into the third round.
Four years later, however, British boxing fans adored Tyson, he said, and gave him a welcome “like Beatlemania” when he arrived to fight British heavyweight champion Julius Francis in Manchester.
He fondly recalled a visit to Parliament being boycotted by women MPs due to his rape conviction but said at that stage of his life he enjoyed being a hate figure.
Describing one of the most controversial moments of his career – his biting a chunk out of Evander Holyfield's left ear during their match in June 1997, Tyson admitted that he had lost composure but insisted that he had been driven to it after being repeatedly headbutted by Holyfield.
Tyson painted a vivid portrait of his life from a young thug and thief on the streets of working-class Brooklyn. He took up boxing while in a young offenders' institution and began his career in “smokers” – illegal fights held in gyms and attended by gangsters and pimps – before making it as a professional.
He comprehensively detailed his years of international womanising during the height of his career that led him through three marriages and to fathering eight children with a string of different women.
And he explained how he repeatedly found himself on the brink of financial ruin despite earning tens of millions of dollars per fight at the height of his boxing career.
At one point he forgot about a holdall containing $1 million in cash, and on another occasion gave a hefty payout to a woman who unsuccessfully sued him after being bitten by his pet tiger. “I felt bad, so I gave her $250,000,” he said.