By: Hans Themistode
Re-wrapping those hands and placing those black boxing shoes on with no socks was supposed to stay in the past.
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was always a part of the headlines. Whether he was placing one of his opponents in a coma or walking his pet tiger, Tyson was a magnet for the camera’s. However, once he retired from the sport of boxing, he mostly faded away into the shadows.
He would still make a few television appearances and make his way to big fights, but his presence wasn’t nearly the same.
Whenever the Brooklyn native was caught in the public eye, he seemed to be enjoying his retirement. The once 215 pound surly champion became rotund over the years. Most called it enjoying the fruits of his labor, Tyson on the other hand, didn’t like what he saw in the mirror.
“I was complaining about my weight,” said Tyson on the Joe Rogan podcast. “I tried on some clothes one day and it was disastrous. So I was discussing it with my wife one day, something about me being old and my weight. So she said why don’t you just get on the treadmill for 15 minutes a day. It went from 15 minutes a day to two hours a day.”
Tyson, 54, had no intentions on boxing ever again. He simply wanted to shed a few pounds and slim down his physique. His new slimmer look however, gave many the wrong impression. He never wanted to officially fight inside of the squared circle. With that being said, he was given an offer that he just couldn’t refuse.
“I started losing weight. Then one day my brother in law came up to me and said, would you fight this guy for 30 or 40 million bucks? My immediate reaction was man get the fuc….. whoa, who would they like me to fight? My brother in law said one minute, made a call and told me it would be Bob Sapp.”
Sapp, of course, was a former multi-sport athlete. The 46 year old was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft in 1997 by the Chicago Bears before ultimately seeing his career go down the drain due to alleged steroid abuse. From there, he took his talents to the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). His career was a subpar one, scoring 12 wins against 19 losses.
Sapp’s lane has never been in the boxing world, so as Tyson became interested, he first made sure that he wasn’t signing up to get kicked in the face or taken down to the mat.
“I said to myself well, I know Bob, he’s big and strong so I said, well how would they like me to fight him? Can I fight him under the Marcus of Queensbury Rules? My brother in law went back and asked the guy and once they said yes, I said I’ll fight him.”
Although Tyson had verbally agreed to take on Sapp, things slowly began to change. His focus was forced to shift as his opponents became a revolving door.
“It went from him to another guy to another guy in MMA, then another fighter, then Evander and it was just a bunch of guys. Then the next thing you know, it came down to Roy and I was like I didn’t know what the hell was going on. Next thing you know he signed the contract and I signed the contract. Next thing you know I’m in the gym again and it’s disastrous. Now I’m saying to myself, did I really do this shit?”
Judging the end product though, getting in shape for Tyson seemed easy. He now routinely walks around shirtless and bears an eerie resemblance to his former 20 year old self. The short clips which show the Brooklyn native pounding the pads and looking as explosive as ever backs those claims. But while most were impressed with his workout videos, Tyson went through hell shooting the content.
“I did that video and I was in bed for a week. It was 30 seconds and I was in bed for a week. It made me realize that this is big boy shit. Getting in shape and getting in condition are two different animals. They don’t even belong in the same vision of working out. Getting in shape is being able to fit your clothes. Getting in condition is being able to come outside of your soul and you can’t do that automatically. The emotional state to prepare for that is mind boggling.”
The physical pain may be excruciating for Tyson, but he has officially committed to his return to the ring long term. The former champion, along with several business partners, have heavily invested into “The Legends Only League.” Essentially, all former great athletes, regardless of the sport they once played, will receive an open invitation to place their skills on display for the world to see once again.
Tyson, a normally stoic personally, couldn’t help but smile when describing his new venture.
“It’s going to be awesome,” explained Tyson. “We’re going to start up the legends only league and it’s going to be really breathtaking.”
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