Details: Twenty years ago, you were one of the most famous men on the planet. Is there a big plan for Act 2?
Mike Tyson: The first stage of my life was just a whole bunch of selfishness. Just a whole bunch of gifts to myself and people who didn't necessarily deserve it. Now I'm 44, and I realize that my whole life is just a fucking waste. "Greatest man on the planet"? I wasn't half the man I thought I was. So if there's a big plan now, it's just to give—it's selflessness, caring for the people who deserve it. Because I think I'm a pig. I have this uncanny ability to look at myself in the mirror and say, "This is a pig. You are a fucking piece of shit."
Details: Sounds painful.
Mike Tyson: No, not at all. Objectively, I'm a pig. That's why it's very difficult for me when people are offering me all that adulation and love. I just feel dirty. These people want to hug me, they want to touch me, and I'm feeling like, "Get your fucking hands off me." I feel that energy of theirs, and it's just filth and murder. It's not that they're bad people necessarily; it's just that they did something bad, and you can feel it on them. I have to go and wash up before I touch my own kids. And after I lost my 4-year-old daughter? All these people reached out and I realized: I just want to be of service to people. I need to help. I need to have something, finally, that I can offer people in this world.
Details: Do you think that might be helping those who have gone through a similar tragedy of losing a child?
Mike Tyson: I have such mixed feelings about that. Sometimes it feels like I've lost faith, and I get that incredibly insignificant feeling of thinking that other people should be dead and she should be the one still here. And then I see that I just gotta boot up and suit up and come to work and make the situation better somehow. Try to be a man—not the man, just a fucking man—and show up. I knew I had to show up for my daughter. And it's so ironic: I arranged this lavish funeral, and the doctor bills were astronomical. It came to, what, $200,000 all told? And I don't have a nickel to my name. It was all paid for by donations, and then I'm thinking, I'm not worthy of all that.
Details: How's money now?
Mike Tyson: I don't know. I guess it's all good. I live in a nice house, exclusive neighborhood, but it's all just insignificant stuff. My life is just different. I don't even recognize myself sometimes. I went back to Brownsville with my reality-TV-show crew, they're doing a segment about my childhood racing pigeons, and Brownsville's all upscale now. They got surveillance cameras, buildings that were abandoned cost, like, a million now, and I'm thinking, My life must've been a lie, 'cause there's nothing there that looks like my childhood. This white woman come up, and I'm thinking, Wow. When I was a kid, she would've been robbed and raped and left for dead. This is a real strange scenario, and I just wanted to cry. I'm like, "Who am I? Where's my heritage?"
Details: How did it feel when you realized the life you'd built from the ground up from age 12 had come to an end? Was it a revelation? A relief?
Mike Tyson: It's just a simple question of humility. If you're not humble, life will visit humbleness upon you. I'm a really damaged human being, and it's still such a struggle, but I'm going to fight to the end this time.
Details: I hear you're vegan now.
Mike Tyson: Yeah, it's been eight months with this vegan stuff, but I get these explosions of energy. I don't know how long they last, but they're like explosions. So powerful.
Details: Is it a calmer energy?
Mike Tyson: Oh, I don't know if I'd go that far. I don't think it's been long enough for that kind of Zen shit.
Details: So you're going to go the rest of your life without eating a candy bar?
Mike Tyson: Maybe so. I'm pretty fucking extreme.
Details: Not even a Baby Ruth?
Mike Tyson: Oh, man, that's the best. Chocolate and peanuts. Nah. I ate, like, the tiniest piece of meat, and I woke up violently sick. It was vicious pain. I was throwing up. And I realized meat's become a poison for me now.
Details: You mentioned your upcoming pigeon-racing reality show on Animal Planet. Your first fight was with a bigger kid over his mistreatment of one of your birds.
Mike Tyson: Gary Flowers. Got one of my birds and [Wrings his hands and yanks]. Asshole.