Yesterday, Animal Planet announced its intention to make a show with Mike Tyson called “Taking on Tyson,” about the former heavyweight champion’s love for — seriously — pigeon racing. From the fascinating press release:
The novice pigeon racer Tyson goes toe-to-toe against several individuals in hopes of being crowned a champ all over again. Tyson has a deep passion for the birds and raised pigeons all his life. In fact his first-ever fight as a child was in defense of his birds. But this show will follow his first foray into racing them competitively…
“I’m honored to be a part of this monumental show on Animal Planet,” said Tyson. “I feel a great pride acting as an official representative for all the pigeon fancier’s out there.”
Wait a second, did I just read the phrase “pigeon fancier”? Of course! How could I forget the magazine cover that helped launch his career:
To rear, train and race pigeons – or “homers” – requires dedication, discipline, patience and tenderness. For many pigeon racers, these avian athletes are the kings of the bird world.
To everyone else, they are flying rats.
Their intelligence, spirit, titanic bonds of loyalty and astounding homing ability sets them apart from other birds. Pigeon fliers treat the birds like fine thoroughbred horses to dominate the racetrack… With the gritty and scenic backdrop of New York City rooftops, TAKING ON TYSON takes flight with its view of weekly pigeon auctions and dynamic competitions.
I’ll give Animal Planet this much: I’m more interested in pigeons today than I was yesterday. Although given a choice, I’d still happily be the Heinrich Himmler of the pigeon Holocaust.