Mike Tyson is still trying to come to grips with his demons, says Simon Hattenstone in the London Guardian. The 42-year-old ex–boxing champion was brought up in a tough Brooklyn neighborhood by a single mother, whom he suspects was a prostitute. As a kid, he was short, fat, and asthmatic, and his only friends were the pigeons he bought with stolen money.
One day an older bully grabbed one of his pigeons and snapped its neck. Tyson belted him. That was the first time he struck anyone, and he found he was good at it—and that it felt good, too. “It was refusing to accept being bullied anymore,” he said. “‘Coz I knew I would f---ing kill them if they f---ed with me.” Tyson decided boxing would be his salvation, and at age 20, he was the youngest heavyweight champ in history.
But then his life spiraled out of control. In 1992 he was convicted of rape, and since then has been involved in several other violent incidents. In recent years he has struggled with cocaine addiction, and acknowledges that he still struggles daily with depression and violent impulses. “When you go to a doctor or a psychiatrist, and they say, ‘Do you hear voices?’ of course we say no. But we do hear voices. Our mind does tell us things. So your mind is not your friend.”