Yesterday, Sports Illustrated released an excellent interview with boxing legend Mike Tyson. But for such an in depth discussion with the former heavyweight champion, there was precious little actual talk about boxing. Jon Wertheim, the journalist who spent the day with Tyson for the article, explained why in his own talk with radio show Off the Ball.
“I don’t think he’s proud of Mike Tyson the fighter,” Wertheim said. “With the interview, we spent a few hours at his house and he was very gracious with his time. And if you wanted to talk about current events or the Olympics or Donald Trump, you name your topic and he would be great — except he wanted nothing to do with boxing.”
“He doesn’t follow the sport anymore. He wasn’t particularly interested in reliving fights. His professional fighting career is of no interest to him. … Mike is more interested in talking about Conor McGregor than he is with anything to do with boxing today.”
“It’s like a party there, so that’s awesome,” Tyson said about attending UFC events in Las Vegas. “It’s like a real safe party with your parents there. You can’t get too bombed. Everybody is laughing, having fun. Boxing, everybody’s out for themselves, go for it. MMA, it’s pretty controlled.”
When Wertheim tried to ask about Olympic boxing, Tyson instead brought the conversation to tennis player Monica Puig and her historic gold medal win over Angelique Kerber.
“I know there’s one tennis player, a Puerto Rican girl, the first Puerto Rican to win the gold medal,” Tyson said. “Yeah. My wife and my mother, they’re crying. My daughter got us into this stuff. … That’s my life now. I’m a tennis parent.”
Who would have thought that one of the biggest boxers in modern history would become so disinterested in the sport that made him famous? But for Tyson, those years come with a lot of pain and chaos. His Sports Illustrated interview paints him as a man in his 50s just trying to live life and raise a family. If there’s one thing to take away from it, it’s that he seems to be doing better than ever now that he’s completely out of the sport.