I’ve found happiness with pigeons, says Mike Tyson

New Delhi: Mike Tyson has thrown his hat into a new ring. After throwing punches for over two decades, the former world heavyweight boxing champion is starring in Hollywood movies. And the tough man is also ready to show his softer side - one that finds happiness with pigeons.

"I love acting. And I`m looking forward to go full speed ahead in it. I want to entertain people the same way I used to entertain them when I fought, and just know that it wasn`t just that I was some big pugnacious brute fighting," Tyson, a Brooklyn native, told IANS in an e-mail interview.

The 44-year-old, a retired boxer, says it was not just his fighting skills and tough structure that made him a known figure.

"It was my spirit that made me a sensational athlete, not that I was a big, strong guy and mean or something, and I want to show that and make that pervasive in my acting career as wel"," he added.

Tyson, who played himself in a cameo in super hit comedy "Hangover", starred in its sequel, and even made brief appearances in international TV shows like "Entourage" and "Brothers", is also keen on theatre to challenge himself.

"I would love to do theatre. I love it because it`s not easy, it`s very difficult, and I would just love to develop that particular type of art. That`s my perception of freedom - being somebody who I really want to be," said Tyson.

But, for now, the boxer is taking on the small screen with Animal Planet`s "Taking On Tyson", where the pigeon lover will attempt to make a name for himself in the competitive world of pigeon racing.

It was indeed his love for pigeons since his childhood that led him to the world of boxing - where he has played 58 international bouts.

In fact, he threw his first punch when a neighbourhood bully killed one of his beloved birds. He was 13 then, but all through the years, Tyson`s love for pigeons has only grown.

After going through two divorces, jail sentences, bankruptcy and the pain of a four-year-old daughter`s death, Tyson now finds peace in the company of his feathered friends in his retired life.

"With pigeons, I have finally found happiness, right now. This is happiness when you`re not working any more, you`re just living and doing what you love, which is raising pigeons," added Tyson who feels these birds fill the void left by his four-year-old daughter`s accidental death in 2009.

"I have to contribute that probably to the passing of my four-year-old daughter because I realised at that one moment when I lost my daughter and she passed away. I thought life was over, but then I realised life had just begun because now I have to live for her. I mean I have to try to the best of my ability to set good examples and not to live the way I`ve been living in the past," he said.

On the show, Tyson will race his pigeons with other teams. The game involves several pigeons that are transported from their lofts to a specific location and then freed to race back home. The time it takes the bird to fly home, coupled with the distance it has to travel, is recorded, and the fastest bird wins.

But pigeon racing doesn`t come easy, he says.

"Well, this has been a lifelong culture for me to fly birds and stuff. You know it`s not something you`re going to wake up one day at 40 and say, wait, I`m going to fly pigeons. I`m going to get into the pigeon business. No, it doesn`t work that way particularly," said Tyson.

He currently has over a hundred pigeons.

"In a racing, some of them don`t get home. Some get disoriented. They may get hit with a wind or something. Some being killed by falcons. Anything can happen."


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