Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson

Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson, Larry Sloman 

These were the passages from his autograph that I found interesting.

“I wasn’t being tried in New York or Los Angeles; we were in Indianapolis, Indiana, historically one of the  strongholds of the Ku Klux Klan. My judge, Patricia Gifford, was a former sex crimes prosecutor and was  known as “the Hanging Judge.” I had been found guilty by a jury of my “peers,” only two of whom were black.  Another black jury member had been excused by the judge after a fire in the hotel where the jurors were staying.  She dismissed him because of his “state of mind.” 

“I was a titan, the reincarnation of Alexander the Great. My style was impetuous, my defenses were impregnable,  and I was ferocious. It’s amazing how a low self-esteem and a huge ego can give you delusions of grandeur. But  after the trial, this god among men had to get his black ass back in court for his sentencing.” 

“My lawyers prepared an appendix that contained forty-eight testimonials to my character from such diverse  people as my high school principal, my social worker in upstate New York, Sugar Ray Robinson’s widow, my  adoptive mother, Camille, my boxing hypnotherapist, and six of my girlfriends (and their mothers), who all  wrote moving accounts of how I had been a perfect gentleman with them. One of my first girlfriends from  Catskill even wrote the judge, “I waited three years before having sexual intercourse with Mr. Tyson and not  once did he force me into anything. That is the reason I love him, because he loves and respects women.” 

“Then there was Don’s personal heartfelt letter to the judge. You would have thought that I had come up with a  cure for cancer, had a plan for peace in the Middle East, and nursed sick kittens back to health.” 

“I might not have been a scumbag, but I was an arrogant prick. I was so arrogant in the courtroom during the trial  that there was no way they were going to give me a break. Even in my moment of doom, I was not a humble  person. All those things they wrote about in that report—giving people money and turkeys, taking care of people, looking out for the weak and the infirm—I did all those things because I wanted to be that humble  person, not because I was that person. I wanted so desperately to be humble but there wasn’t a humble bone in  my body.” 

“My way. It’s funny, but it took me a long time to realize that that little white woman judge who sent me to  prison just might have saved my life.” 

“When you really think about it, these religious guys have the charisma of a pimp. They can get anybody in the  church to do whatever they want. So to me it’s always “Yeah, Bishop-slash-Pimp,” “Reverend Ike-slash-Pimp.” 

“I spent most of my time with my sister Denise. She was two years older than me and she was beloved by  everybody in the neighborhood. If she was your friend, she was your best friend. But if she was your enemy, go  across the street.” 

“One day a guy pulled me off the street, took me into an abandoned building, and tried to molest me. I never really felt safe on those streets. After a while, we weren’t even safe in our apartment. My mom’s parties ended when we got to Brownsville.” 

“My mother would do whatever she had to do to keep a roof over our heads. That often meant sleeping with  someone that she really didn’t care for. That was just the way it was.” 

“This is what I hate about myself, what I learned from my mother—there was nothing you wouldn’t do to survive.” 

“It was a free lunch. I was a momma’s boy when I was young. I always slept with my mother. My sister  and brother had their own rooms, but I slept with my mother until I was fifteen. One time, my mother slept with  a man while I was in the bed with her. She probably thought I was asleep. I’m sure it had an impact on me, but  that’s just how it was. I got booted to the couch when her boyfriend Eddie Gillison came into the picture. They had a really dysfunctional love affair. I guess that’s why my own relationships were so strange. They’d drink,  fight, and fuck, break up, then drink, fight, and fuck some more. They were truly in love, even if it was a really  sick love.”

“That is the kind of life I grew up in. People in love cracking their heads and bleeding like dogs. They love each  other but they’re stabbing each other. Holy shit, I was scared to death of my family in the house. I’m growing up  around tough women, women who fight men. So I didn’t think fighting a woman was taboo because the women  I knew would kill you. You had to fight them, because if you didn’t, they’d slice you or shoot you. Or else  they’d bring some men to take advantage of you and beat you up, because they thought you were a punk.” 

“Don’t beat me up, leave me alone, stop!” I’d say. I still feel like a coward to this day because of that bullying.  That’s a wild feeling, being that helpless. You never ever forget that feeling. The day that guy took my glasses  and put them in that gas tank was the last day I went to school. That was the end of my formal education. I was  seven years old and I just never went back to class.” 

“And these guys were tough guys and they kind of liked me for being their gofer. My whole life I had felt like a  misfit, but here on the roof I felt like I was home. This was what I was supposed to do.” 

“What’s that smell? Look at this dirty, stinking motherfucker.” The whole place started laughing and teasing me.  I didn’t know what to do; it was such a traumatizing experience, everybody picking on me. I was crying, but I  was laughing too because I wanted to fit in. I guess Barkim saw the way I was dressed and took pity on me. He  came up to me and said, “Yo, Shorty. Get the fuck out of here. Meet me back at the roof eight in the morning tomorrow.” 

“That night he took me to a jam and a lot of the same people who laughed at me at the other jam were there. I had  on my new coat and leather pants. Nobody even recognized me; it was like I was a different person. It was incredible.” 

“Even the older gangsters said, “You shouldn’t do this. Go to school,” but I didn’t want to listen to them, even  though they had respect in the street. They were telling us to stay in school at the same time they were out there  robbing. All the guys respected me because I was a little moneymaker. I’d break off some for my friends who  needed a little cash. I’d buy us all liquor and food. I started buying pigeons. If you had good birds, people  respected you. Plus, it was a rush to steal things and then go out and buy clothes. I saw how everybody treated  me when I came around and I was dressed up nice with my shearling coat and my Pumas. I had a ski suit, with  the yellow goggles, and I’d never been to a ski slope in my life. I couldn’t even spell fucking Adidas but I knew  how they made me feel.”

“They saw my nice clothes, and I’d bring them food—pizza and Burger King and McDonald’s. My mother knew  I was up to no good, but by that time she knew it was too late. The streets had me. She thought that I was a  criminal and I would die or never turn out to be shit. She’d probably seen it before, kids like me being like that. I  would steal anything from anybody. I didn’t have any boundaries.” 

“So I decided. “Fuck it.” My friends were shocked. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I threw some wild  punches and one connected and Gary went down. Wise would skip while he was shadowboxing, so after I  dropped Gary, my stupid ass started skipping. It just seemed like the fly thing to do. I had practically the whole  block watching my gloryful moment. Everybody started whooping and applauding me.” 

“This nigga is skipping, man,” one guy laughed. I was trying to do the Ali shuffle, to no avail. But I felt good  about standing up for myself and I liked the rush of everybody applauding me and slapping fives. I guess  underneath that shyness, I was always an explosive, entertaining guy.” 

“might see one of the guys who beat me up and bullied me years earlier. He might have gone into a store  shopping and I would drag his ass out of the store and start pummeling him. I didn’t even tell my friends why,  I’d just say, “I hate that motherfucker over there,” and they’d jump in too and rip his fucking clothes and beat his  fucking ass. That guy who took my glasses and threw them away? I beat him in the streets like a fucking dog for  humiliating me. He may have forgotten about it but I never did.” 

“I had nerve. It felt incredible. I didn’t care if I grabbed somebody’s chain and dragged them down  the stairs with their head bouncing, boom, boom, boom. Do I care? No, I need that chain. I didn’t know anything  about compassion. Why should I? No one ever showed me any compassion. The only compassion I had was  when somebody shot or stabbed one of my friends during a robbery. Then I was sad.” 

“Right then I decided I wanted to be great. I didn’t know what it was I’d do but I decided that I wanted people to  look at me like I was on show, the same way they did to Ali.” 

“I never saw my mother happy with me or proud of me doing something. I never got a  chance to talk to her or know her. Professionally that would have no effect on me, but emotional and psychologically, it was crushing. I would be with my friends and I’d see their mothers kiss them. I never had  that. You’d think that if she let me sleep in her bed until I was fifteen, she would have liked me, but she was  drunk all the time.” 

“The fact that they were sending me up to the state reformatory was not cool. I was with the big boys now. They  were more hard-core than the guys at Spofford. But Tryon wasn’t a bad place. There were a lot of cottages there,  and you could walk outside, play basketball, walk to the gym. But I got in trouble right away. I was just angry  all the time. I had a bad attitude. I’d be confrontational and let everyone know that I was from Brooklyn and I  didn’t fuck around with any bullshit.” 

“They were boxing Mr. Stewart, one of the counselors. Bobby Stewart was a tough Irish guy, around 170 pounds,  who had been a professional boxer. He was a national amateur champ. When I was in the hole, staff members  told me there was an ex–boxing champ teaching kids how to box. The staff members that told me about him  were very nice to me and I wanted to meet him because I thought he’d be nice too.” 

“impress Cus. I guess I had. When we got out of the ring, Cus’s first words to Bobby were, “That’s the  heavyweight champion of the world.” 

“We sat down and Cus told me he couldn’t believe I was only thirteen years old. And then he told me what my  future would be. He had seen me spar for not even six minutes, but he said it in a way that was like law. “You looked splendid,” he said. “You’re a great fighter.” It was compliment after compliment. “If you listen to me, I can make you the youngest heavyweight champion of all time.” 

“Fuck, how could he know that shit? I thought he was a pervert. In the world I came from, people do shit like that  when they want to perv out on you. I didn’t know what to say. I had never heard anyone say nice things about  me before. I wanted to stay around this old guy because I liked the way he made me feel. I’d later realize that  this was Cus’s psychology. You give a weak man some strength and he becomes addicted.” 

“I was excited on the ride back to Tryon. I was sitting with a bunch of Cus’s roses in my lap. I had never seen  roses in person before, only on television, but I wanted some because they looked so exquisite. I wanted to have  something nice to take back with me so I asked him if I could take some. Between the smell of the roses and  Cus’s words ringing in my ears, I felt good, like my whole world had changed. In that one moment, I knew I was going to be somebody. “I think he likes you,” Bobby said. “If you’re not a prick and an asshole, this will go  well.” I could tell Bobby was happy for me.” 

“Fear is the greatest obstacle to learning. But fear is your best friend. Fear is like fire. If you learn to control it,  you let it work for you. If you don’t learn to control it, it’ll destroy you and everything around you. Like a  snowball on a hill, you can pick it up and throw it or do anything you want with it before it starts rolling down,  but once it rolls down and gets so big, it’ll crush you to death. So one must never allow fear to develop and build-up without having control over it, because if you don’t you won’t be able to achieve your objective or save your  life.” 

“You think you know the difference between a hero and a coward, Mike? Well, there is no difference between a  hero and a coward in what they feel. It’s what they do that makes them different. The hero and the coward feel  exactly the same but you have to have the discipline to do what a hero does and to keep yourself from doing  what the coward does. “Your mind is not your friend, Mike. I hope you know that. You have to fight with your  mind, control it, put it in its place. You have to control your emotions. Fatigue in the ring is ninety percent  psychological. It’s just the excuse of a man who wants to quit. The night before a fight, you won’t sleep. Don’t  worry, the other guy didn’t either. You’ll go to the weigh-in, he’ll look much bigger than you and calmer, like ice, but he’s burning up with fear inside. Your imagination is going to credit him with abilities he doesn’t  have. Remember, motion relieves tension. The moment the bell rings, and you come in contact with each other,  suddenly your opponent seems like everybody else, because now your imagination has dissipated. The fight  itself is the only reality that matters. You have to learn to impose your will and take control over that reality.” 

“He went out there and suddenly his mind became detached from his body. He was watching himself from afar. The punches that hit him felt like they were coming from a distance. He was more aware of them than feeling them.” 

“Cus was a strong believer that in your mind you had to be the entity that you wanted to be. If you wanted to be  heavyweight champion of the world, you had to start living the life of a heavyweight champion. I was only fourteen, but I was a true believer in Cus’s philosophy. Always training, thinking like a Roman gladiator, being  in a perpetual state of war in your mind, yet on the outside seeming calm and relaxed. He was practicing and  teaching me the law of attraction without even knowing it.”

“Every day in every way, I am getting better and better” over and over again. Cus had a bad cataract in one eye,  and he would repeat that phrase and he claimed the phrase had made it better. 

“The goal of all these techniques was to build confidence in the fighter. Confidence was everything. But in order  to possess that confidence, you had to test yourself and put yourself on the line. It doesn’t come from osmosis,  out of the air. It comes from consistently going over the visualization in your mind to help you develop the  confidence that you want to possess.” 

“I didn’t want to go back either. I was looking for change in my life. Plus, I liked the way those people talked and  made me feel good, made me feel like I was part of society. So I talked to my mother about staying up there with  Cus. “Ma, I want to go up there and train. I want to be a fighter. I can be the best fighter in the world.” Cus had  my mind so fucked up. That’s all he talked to me about, how great I could become, how to improve myself, day  by day, in every way. All that self-help shit.” 

“Whoa. I always thought I was shit. My mother had told me I was crap. Nobody had ever said anything good  about me. And here’s this dude saying, “I bet you if you try, you could win an Oscar. You’d be just as good an  actor as you’d be a boxer. You want to be a race-car driver? I bet you’d be the best race-car driver in the world;  you’re smarter and tougher than those guys. You could conquer any world. Don’t use that word ‘can’t.’ You  can’t say ‘can’t.’” 

“The whole world will know who you are. Your family name will reign. People will respect your mother, your  family, your children. When you enter a room, people will stand up and give you an ovation.” Cus wouldn’t let me fail. When I felt like quitting and I got discouraged, he just kept on inspiring me. Cus would always say, “My job is to peel off layers and layers of damages that are inhibiting your true ability to grow and fulfill your  potential.” He was peeling me and it hurt! I was screaming, “Leave me alone. Aarrgghh!” He tortured my mind.  He’d see me sparring with an older guy and it was in my mind that I was tired and I wasn’t punching back at the  guy, the guy was just bullying me, and Cus would talk to me about that, make me confront my fears. He was a  perfectionist. I’d be hitting the heavy bag with combinations and Cus would be standing there, watching.” 

“Cus was much more than a boxing trainer. He instilled so many values in me. He was like some guru, always  saying things that would make me think. “No matter what anyone says, no matter the excuse or explanation,  whatever a person does in the end is what he intended to do all along.”

“Because doing something you hate to do like you love it is good conditioning for someone aspiring towards  greatness.” After that, Camille never had to remind me to do my chores again. One day Cus called me into the  room where he was sitting.” 

“Cus was always dead serious, never smiling. He didn’t treat me like a teenager. He always made me feel like we  had a mission to accomplish. Training day in and day out, thinking about one fucking thing. He gave me a  purpose. I had never had that feeling in my life before except when I was thinking about stealing.” 

“I think both of us realized that we were in a race with time. Cus was in his seventies, he was no spring chicken,  so he would constantly be shoving all this knowledge into me. Shove, shove, shove all this shit in. If you keep  shoving it in, you learn it, unless you’re an idiot. I became very adept at boxing but my maturity, my thinking  ability as a human being didn’t catch up with my boxing ability.” 

“I was an extremist. If we got snowed in, Cus trained me in the house. At night, I’d stay up for hours in my room  shadowboxing. My life depended on succeeding. If I didn’t, I would just be a useless piece of shit. Plus, I was  doing it for Cus too. He had a tough life with a lot of disappointments. So I was here to defend this old Italian  man’s ego and pride. Who the fuck did I think I was? When I wasn’t training, I was watching old fight films for  at least ten hours a day. That was my treat on the weekend. I’d watch them alone upstairs, all night long. I’d  crank up the volume and the sound would travel through the old house. Then Cus would come up. “What the  hell are you doing?” “Just watching the films,” I said. “Hey, you gotta go to bed. People want to sleep,” he said.  Then he’d walk down the stairs and I’d hear him muttering, 

Cus would say, “‘No’ will be like a foreign language to you. You won’t understand the concept of ‘no.’” 

“Listen. They’re dead but we’re talking about them now. This is all about immortality. This is about your name  being known until the end of time,” he said. Cus was so dramatic. He was like a character from The Three Musketeers. 

“I thought about what he said. Here I was, a two-time national champ, and I was still robbing houses because you  just go back to who you are. Every night I was drinking, smoking angel dust, snorting cocaine, and going to  local dances. Anything to get my mind off my mother.”

“Barkim’s death had a big impact on me. This was the guy who had first gotten me into robbing, making me his  street son. And he had just told me to get out of here and go back with my white family. And it wasn’t just him.  All my friends in the neighborhood had big hopes for me and Cus. Cus was going to take me places.” 

“was always able to rise to the level and exceed his sparring partners. Taught him movements like in karate so the  body would make adjustments during a fight even if your opponent doesn’t make it necessary. He can strike a  blow with lightning speed to the complete surprise of his opponents. He had tremendous speed, coordination,  and an intuitive sense of timing, which usually comes after ten years of fighting because in the old days they  used to box every single day. 

“Don’t worry, Cus.” I made myself sound arrogant. “You watch. One day the whole world is  going to be afraid of me. When they mention my name, they’ll sweat blood, Cus.” That was the day that I turned  into Iron Mike; I became that guy 100 percent. Even though I had been winning almost every one of my fights in  an exciting fashion, I wasn’t completely emotionally invested in being the savage that Cus wanted me to be.  After that talk about me being too small, I became that savage.” 

“That’s when he told me he was dying from pneumonia. I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. He didn’t look  morbidly ill. He was buffing. He had energy and zest. He was eating ice cream. He was chilling out, but I started  freaking out. “I don’t want to do this shit without you,” I said, choking back tears. “I’m not going to do it.” 

“champ of the world, the greatest out there,” he said. Then Cus started crying. That was the first time I ever saw  him cry. I thought he was crying because he couldn’t see me become heavyweight champion of the world after  all we had gone through together. But soon I realized he was crying over Camille. I totally forgot that he had  another partner who meant more to him than me. He told me he regretted that he had never married Camille  because he had tax problems and he didn’t want her to take them on. “Mike, just do me one favor,” he said.  “Make sure you take care of Camille.” 

“Mike Tyson is just a hardworking fighter that leads a boring life as an individual. Anyone who says ‘I wish I  was in your shoes,’ the hundreds of people who say that don’t know the tenth of it. If they were in my shoes they  would cry like babies. They couldn’t handle it.”

“Cayton and the rest of them wanted to strip me of my history of growing up in Brooklyn and give me a positive  image. Cus knew that was bullshit. They were trying to suppress me and make me conform to their standards. I  wanted people to see the savage that was within me.” 

“After the fight, one of the officials saw that there was a big bulge on my ear. So the next day Jimmy had a  specialist check me out and he realized that my cartilage had gotten severely infected and immediately made me  check into Mount Sinai on the Upper East Side. He was worried that I might lose my ear if it went untreated.  They had me stay in the hospital for ten days and undergo treatment in a hyperbaric chamber twice a day where  they forced antibiotics into the cartilage.” 

“That was almost two months before my fight with James Tillis in upstate New York. When it was time for the  fight, I was out of shape because of my illness and also because I had been drinking and partying way too hard.  The fight went ten hard rounds and I was just glad to get the decision. I dropped him once, which probably  tipped the scales in my favor, but he was the toughest opponent I had ever faced at that point. He gave me such a  body beating that I couldn’t even walk after the fight. I had to stay in the hotel. I couldn’t even drive home. I  found out what fighting was really about that night. Several times during the fight I wanted to go down so bad  just to get some relief, but I kept grabbing and holding him, trying to get my breath back. The next day Jimmy  Jacobs went into spin mode. He told the press, “The fight was just a hurdle for him. Now we see that he can go  the distance.” He was a master at manipulating the press, not to mention the public. He and Cayton  masterminded a publicity campaign that was unparalleled. No actor in the world ever got that kind of press  before. Everybody does it now, but back then, they were true innovators.” 

“And when you think about it, a lot of my friends were only fifteen or sixteen. That wasn’t a big difference at that  age. Now all of a sudden, because I’m champion of the world, everyone expected me to be a totally together guy  because of the title and what it represents. But I was just a little kid having fun.” 

But my plan didn’t work. A young Turk ready to get his meat shot Albert and a couple of my other friends in  1989. They were only twenty at that time and there was also a sixteen-year-old who wanted a piece of the  dream. The Benz, the girls, and the status killed them. There was a lot of dying then. I paid for a lot of funerals.” 

“The second thing I did was to go down to New Jersey and deal with my mom’s grave. Her boyfriend Eddie had  been hit by a car and died right before the Berbick fight, and he was buried next to my mother. So I had both of them exhumed and put into nice bronze caskets, and then I bought a massive seven-foot-tall headstone for her,  so every time people came to the cemetery, they’d know that that was the Mike Tyson’s mother there.” 

submissive nice guy. Jimmy and Cayton wanted me to be another Joe Louis, not Ali or Sonny Liston. They  wanted me to be a hero, but I wanted to be a villain. The villain is always remembered, even when he doesn’t  outshine the hero. Even though the hero kills him, he makes the hero the hero. The villain is immortal. Besides, I  knew that Joe Louis’s hero image was manufactured. In real life he liked to snort cocaine and screw lots of girls.” 

“I didn’t even have to know the people who I gave money to. I’d stop my car and give out hundred-dollar bills to  bums and homeless people. I’d gather up a bunch of street urchins and take them to Lester’s Sporting Goods  store and buy them all new sneakers. I later found out that Harry Houdini did the same thing when he started to  make it. I guess that’s what poor people who get rich real quick do. They don’t feel like they deserve it. I felt  that way sometimes, because I forgot how much hard work I had put into my career.” 

“money and helping these people, it doesn’t solve their problems, but it makes them happy. Whenever I was  handing out money, I’d be sure to go and track down all the old ladies who were my mother’s friends. I’d be  with a friend in the car and I’d drive to a certain project where I knew this one old lady lived and my friend  would wait in the car and I’d get out and knock on her door and give her some cash. Then I’d do the same thing  again and again. I didn’t think that I was noble doing all this. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Maybe I  believed that that was how I could clean my sins and buy my way back to heaven. I guess I was looking for  redemption.” 

“I couldn’t take being the big fish and having everyone talk nice about me. That made me feel uncomfortable  because of my low self-esteem. It got to be overbearing and I had to berate myself and cut myself down.  Everybody was saying so many good things about me that it fucked my head up. Hey, let’s get some balance.  It’s not like I was a fucking saint. I shot at people. My social skills consisted of putting a guy in a coma.” 

“You could put me in any city in any country and I’d gravitate to the darkest cesspool. Sometimes I’d go alone  with no security. But I never got shot, never got stuck up. I always felt safest when I was in the hood. People  would always ask me, “Mike, you ain’t scared down there?” I’d say, “Shit, I’m scared on the Vegas strip.” I was  just so at home there. I’d see a lady and her kids out late at night in the freezing cold and it reminded me of my  mother and me.”

“For a guy who just won the undisputed championship of the world, you’d think you’d be a little happier.” “As  long as you make mistakes, you don’t have the means to be happy,” I said. “I’m a perfectionist and I want to be perfect.” 

“So this was the shit I was dealing with going into the Spinks fight. A day before the fight I was asked about the  circus going on around me. “I hate them all; writers, promoters, managers, closed-circuit, everybody. They don’t  give a fuck about me, they don’t give a fuck about my wife, they don’t give a fuck about my trainer, my mother in-law, my stepmother, my stepbrother, my pigeons. Nothing concerns them but the dollar, so I don’t want to  hear anything. We’re friends, that’s bullshit, I don’t want no friends, there’s no such thing as personal  friendships.

ma’am, not much.” That whole year was crazy. I was severely traumatized by that relationship. Those were cold  broads. It was my first relationship and I wanted to just cancel it out, but love leaves a black mark on your heart.  It really scars you. But you have to take chances to keep growing as an individual. That’s what life is all about. 

“Before I went to Mexico, I had such a big chip on my shoulder. I had never known anyone poorer than me. I  couldn’t imagine anyone in the world being poorer than I had been. I was blown away by the poverty in Mexico.  I was actually mad at them for being poorer than I had been because I couldn’t feel sorry for myself anymore.  More than anything else, my success stemmed from my shame about being poor. That shame of being poor gave  me more pain than anything in my life.” 

“One of the reasons that I didn’t think I was going to live long was because I thought I was the baddest man in the  world, both in the arena and out on the streets. When you add the alcohol to that giant ego, anything could  happen. It felt like I was always on a mission, but what was I looking for, what was the problem? I was always  mad at the world. I always felt empty. Even after Mexico, I had a chip on my shoulder about being poor, my  mother dying, that I had no family life. Being champ of the world just accelerated and intensified those feelings.  Then I created that Iron Mike persona, that monster, and the media picked up on it and the whole world was  afraid of that guy, the guy who could make women leave their husbands for a night and cheat. That image of  being the big bad motherfucker was really intoxicating but inside I was still just a little pussy—this scared kid  who didn’t want to get picked on.”

“The next night after his win, Holyfield announced that he would defend his title against George Foreman. That  pissed me off. Everybody wanted to put me down, overshadow me, but they couldn’t. I was still the biggest star  in the boxing world, bigger than any of them without a belt. Stewart and I finally squared off on December  eighth in Atlantic City. HBO was so intent on re-signing me that they even hired Spike Lee to do the prefight  introduction film segment just to placate me. I decided to talk some shit on film with Spike and make people  mad. “Everything is totally against us,” I said. “Don and I are two black guys from the ghetto and we hustle and  they don’t like what we’re saying. We’re not like prejudiced anti-white, we are just pro-black.” 

“It was time for us to put forward our case. By then, Voyles and I were totally disheartened. I never really had  any faith in the system. The Kennedy kid had been found innocent of rape in Palm Beach just a month before  my trial started, but I knew I was supposed to be convicted, that was just how the system worked. I’m a  descendant of slaves. That people can respect me as a human being, to this day, is something that I have doubts  about. I was the nigga and that cowboy prosecutor was going to put his spurred cowboy boots in my face. None  of those people were going to help me. I was fucked the day I got indicted. They were going to get me one way  or another.” 

“If he had a beef with the police in Brooklyn, he and his brother would just shoot it out with the cops. My father had a lot of respect in the Brooklyn community.” 

“Kumbaya” all day. I was angry as fuck when I first got put in. I knew that I would be in for at least three years.  If it had been a white girl, I would have been in for three hundred years.” 

“But days after that, I was sitting in the rec room and this really nice, wonderful inmate sat down with me. He was one of those ultra-polite Christian brothers with the beautiful smile all the time, the most well-liked and respected guy in the jail.” 

“You really know who your friends are when you face adversity. So many people ran from me like the plague after my rape conviction. I was blessed to have so many good people in my life who supported me through thick and thin. My spirits would be boosted by everything I’d get and by visits from people who meant something to me.”

“but Tupac was really prolific talking revolutionary theory. When you talked to him and got to know him, he was much more of a didactic cat than a thug. He had a fascinating mind.” 

“Nobody never done that—let a bunch of street niggas into a nice club like that. You kept it real,” he said. “No,  no, that’s crazy, nigga,” I said. “We’ve all got to enjoy this world. It’s nothing man, we’re just the same.” Tupac was an immovable force as a personality. He’d seen so much pain and hardship. Sometimes the adversity we live through traumatizes us and gives us baggage, and we bring our baggage everywhere we go. I bring my baggage into my religion, I bring it into my relationships sometimes, I bring my baggage into my fucking fights.  I don’t care how much we succeed, our baggage still comes with us. For Tupac, being born in prison, seeing his mother’s friends killed or sent to prison forever, that just put him in a state of nonism where he felt no one was listening to him or cared. So he went on autopilot and did the best that he could. Tupac was really a freedom fighter.” 

“Can I tell you something now? Praise be to Allah, I cheer for myself a hundred million times a day in my mind.  To me I am my biggest fan, there is nothing in the world better than me. So I don’t think about that, those guys really don’t know what they’re cheering for. I know the total me and I know why they should be cheering, but they don’t know, they cheer for the knockout. That’s all they cheer for, the knockout and the performance. I  cheer because I know who I am.” 

“Prison doesn’t rehabilitate anyone; it dehabilitates you. I don’t care how much money you earn when you get out, you’re still a lesser person than when you went in. I was paranoid. I thought everybody was gonna hurt me.  I’d panic every time I’d hear an ambulance siren. One time, Monica and I were in bed and I woke up and looked at her and grabbed her. For some reason I thought somebody had come into the bed and was trying to stab me. I  was so scared. I wasn’t the same guy; I had become hard. Prison basically took the whole life out of me. I never again trusted anyone—not even myself around certain people.” 

“After the Seldon fight, Tupac came to my dressing room. I was so happy to see him. Tupac represented where all of us black people came from and what we’re trying to hide. I have Jewish friends who might look at a Jewish  guy and say, “He’s too Jewish.” That’s what some blacks thought about Tupac. He was that bitterness, that frustration that was in all of us and that we were all trying to hide and not let people know we possess. We want to front that we have it all together, but it’s not like that. If you’re black, it’s constantly a struggle. I don’t care how rich you are or how much power you have, they’re still going to come after you. Tupac would talk about black people who were tired of being beaten down and who had nothing. Tupac put our slave heritage in our face and most black people respected his strength in doing that. He let us know why we should be angry. 

“Tupac was only twenty-five, but he had such determination and will. Where did he get that stuff from? Such a  big heart, such a caring man, but still a warrior. He was a beautiful person and I really enjoyed the time I spent with him.” 

“The crazy part was, there were a lot of people out there who were defending what I had done. I got a lot of love from the overseas press. Tony Sewell, an English writer, published an article called “Why Iron Mike Was Right  to Take an Earful.” He wrote, “As the world rises in moral indignation and demands that Tyson be banned for going berserk, I smell a distinct waft of hypocrisy. Tyson was a gladiator who broke the rules. The real savages  are the audience who now want to feed him to the lions.” 

“At first I was a little reluctant to open myself up to a middle-aged Jewish man, but he was really a terrific guy and I benefited a lot from my visits with him. Goldberg diagnosed me as suffering from “dysthymic disorder,”  which was basically chronic depression.” 

“It’s funny, right around this time my new accountants discovered an IRA account in my name that over the years had appreciated to over a quarter of a million dollars. The accountants began to dig around and found out that Cus had set up that account for me back in Catskill. When they told me it was Cus, I cried like a baby.” 

“For the first time in my life, I understood what “It’s the thought that counts” meant. Cus must have known I’d screw up my money. I never thought anyone loved my black ass. It restored some kind of faith in mankind for me at that point.” 

“Tyson looks like he’s in slow motion. He can’t get off two punches. That’s the mark of a shot fighter, he can’t  get off punches. Oh!” I didn’t need two punches. Just as Ferdie was saying that, I hit Botha with a right hand  square on his jaw. He crumpled to the canvas. He tried to get up but he couldn’t beat the count. Then he  careened into the ropes and collapsed back on the canvas. It was an ugly fight, but I redeemed it with a  resounding one-punch knockout. Botha went down like he had been shot with an elephant gun. The White Buffalo just got poached.”

“He would have made a great politician. He really cared about people; you could tell it wasn’t some phony baloney shit. Just the way he really engaged with people, really catching the eyes of people he didn’t even know.  He wasn’t scared to be seen out in public; he was out there looking to engage. Whoa, I’d think, this is one interesting guy.” 

Vegas. Shelly Finkel thought that it might be better for me to fight outside the United States for a while and let  Vegas calm down after the Norris fiasco. So he set up a fight for me in Manchester, England, on January 29,  2000. I was going to meet Julius Francis, the British heavyweight champion. England was a trip. I was mobbed everywhere I went. When I visited the ghetto in Brixton, there were so many adoring fans swarming me that I  had to take refuge in a police station. I think it might have been the first time in my life that I entered a police station voluntarily. 

“Yeah, I’m the guy that’s gonna make the whole freak show happen on the twenty-ninth. Everyone is going to  come and watch me kill somebody, or beat somebody up, or knock somebody out. Tyson is the ticket, Tyson is  the moneymaker. Not too many people care about Michael personally, because Michael is just some nigga out of  Brownsville, Brooklyn, that just happened to make it one day, or was lucky. Where I come from, I am the piece  of gum on the bottom of your shoe. God has blessed me, I don’t know, he put me in this situation to be around, I  don’t know, I guess you guys are supposed to be decent people, right?” I couldn’t walk the streets of London  because we’d start a riot, so we went shopping by car. One time, we stopped for a light and when people saw I  was in the car, they started rocking it. Other people were diving headfirst into the car. It was like a scene out of a  third-world country where the dictator was trying to leave and the crowd was doing everything to block the car,  even tear the roof off. But these people were showing love. “We love you, Mike! We love you!” they were  screaming. It was like Beatlemania. A lady friend was with me and it looked like she was going to take a heart  attack. “Damn,” she said, turning around to look at me. “Who the fuck are you?” 

“Shorty Love was from my neighborhood and he had a really notorious street rep for hurting people. I would always see him hanging around with the tough guys in the neighborhood. These guys were damn-near grown  and he was just a little kid, but it was like he was the leader. They called him Homicide because he was a  knockout artist when he was twelve years old. He’d go up to someone on the street and knock them out with one punch and rob their jewelry or their sheepskin coat.”

“He was so violent in jail that he wound up serving twice his time. He finally got out on December 31, 1999.  When he got out, I broke him off some money and bought him a nice Rolex and a chain and a Mercedes-Benz. I  also offered to give him a job as one of my security men. I just wanted him to get off the streets and straighten  out his life. “Hang out with me,” I told him. “Don’t do that shit no more, we could get some money.” “I ain’t  going to take no fucking money from you, Mike,” he said. “Too many people took money from you.” Shorty  Love was gangster to the core.”

“The sad truth is that no one ever had my best interests at heart except for Cus. I still can’t believe that he put that  money aside for me in an IRA. When I think about that, I cry to this very day.” 

“I was hanging with those people and deep in my heart I knew I belonged there at that moment because that was  how I felt about myself. Because in the hood it was different—people might feed me for free and give me drugs  and take care of me, but if something went down, I was there with them. I had my vices and the people in the  neighborhood understood my barometer.” 

“At first I thought she was just some foolish-ass white woman that thought she was going to change me. I was going to play the nice black man role and she’d never see Ike/Mike. But I didn’t know that Marilyn was a beast.  She didn’t take any shit. She’d heard all the games before. I just never thought she had heard my international con game, the game I got over working with all those counselors since I was a kid. In order to deal with me you had to have some kind of roaring ferocious animal in you to get my attention. Even if you go about it in a  diplomatic way, even without expressing it to the naked eye, I have to know that that animal is in there. It might just be a subtle look in her eye. Well, Marilyn had it. It was obvious to me after a while that Marilyn’s job in life was to help people. Some people can’t even conceive of that, a person whose whole goal is just to give her life energy to care about someone else. We’re taught that people like that have ulterior motives. But she had a  mission. Just like Cus said that “my boy’s job is to put big strong scary men in their place,” Marilyn’s job was to take big strong scary men that society has rejected and make society accept them again and make them excel  while they’re being accepted.” 

I was a smuck with no self-esteem but everyone in the world was telling me how great I was so now I was a  narcissistic smuck with no self-esteem and a big ego. Marilyn thought that I was still addicted to the chaos of my childhood so that anytime something good happened to me, I would do something to sabotage it. So I married a  doctor and had two lovely children and I was running around screwing strippers and doing drugs and drinking  my ass off. Marilyn wanted to break my addiction to chaos and to raise my baseline normal to a place that was  healthy.”

“When she left, Marilyn was quiet for a second. Then she spoke. “I’ll make you a bet that you couldn’t last six  weeks in a rehab.” That struck my macho nerves. “Are you crazy? I could do six weeks like nothing, I’m  disciplined.” 

“A week later I checked into another rehab in Tucson. Marilyn was going to kill me if I didn’t go back into treatment. She can give the impression of being a nice, innocent, old grandmotherly white lady, but she’s not.  She wouldn’t let me quit. She gave me some real grimy aggressive chastisement. She said, “No, no, you are  going to finish this bet.” That’s when I saw another side to her—that fire in her eyes. She was nobody to play with, she meant business. So I tried another place in Phoenix. I liked the people at this second place.” 

“Wonderland was a universe apart from those other rehab places I had been to. This wasn’t Arizona anymore; we had some liberal shit going on here. We were not dealing with judgmental people now, these are very interesting people who are not scared of difficult guys like me. Wonderland was one of those high-end rehabs that catered to the children of the elite—movie stars, bankers, you name it. This was mansion-style living, just like I had been accustomed to. It cost an arm and a leg, but I think they must have given me a break because I didn’t have  any money then.” 

“W I had to be in there with the masses. I owe Marilyn a debt that can never be repaid for getting me into the recovery world. That is one fascinating world. You think cops got the biggest fraternity in the world? You think gangs are big? They’re nothing compared to the recovery world. They got federal judges, marshals,  and prosecutors. You be careful about what recovering alcoholic or addict you’re fucking with, because this is one huge powerful family.” 

“They’re a motley crew too. I saw ex–Hells Angels, ex-gangbangers, strange guys whose sole purpose in life is to get people to stop drinking and stop getting high. Do you feel me? Some of these guys have been in prison for most of their lives and their goal in life now is to save as many people as possible and get them to live life on life’s terms and to face their fears sober. These are special people, Marilyn included. They are a different breed of people. All my intimidating, bullshit doesn’t work with them. Big killers with knife scars on their face, mob hit men, these A.A. people don’t get scared. It’s almost impossible to scare an addict. Even if they say they’re afraid of you, they’re really not.” 

“People think addicts are bums and horrible people but they’re the geniuses of our times.”

“Bright light, dark shadows. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.” He told me that the biggest stars were the darkest ones, that was why I was here with him.” 

“She was just a young chick but she was right. I was so insecure, so scared of loss, so afraid to be alone. Towards the end of my career I was moving in with women and moving from one to the other.” 

” Everybody brings some kind of baggage to the arena. I still don’t know what’s important about sex. Is it the pleasure part or the actual intimacy?” 

“That’s one thing about happiness. You could be in hell and be happy there. Some people thrive in misery. You take away their misery and bring them into the light and they die emotionally and spiritually because pain and suffering has been their only comfort.” 

“I’m a peacock and I always have to be proving that I’m achieving something. That was just the way I was wired.  Those tokens were like my belts. In our community the tokens infer respect. You could have all the money in the world but no tokens, no time, and we don’t respect you. I just loved it, I always looked forward to getting my chips.” 

“And when I was living with Kiki, it was the first time ever that I realized that I could do this, I could commit to living with somebody for real.” 

“Kiki came out in January of 2008 to visit. The minute I laid eyes on her it was like my whole perception of her changed. Wow, she’s hot, I thought. Maybe it was because I was seeing her when I was sober for the first time.  She had blossomed into a beautiful woman. I really wanted to see if being committed to one person could work for me. But we were both pretty depressed at that time. I was trying to stay clean after my rehab and Kiki had been dealing with a family crisis for the past few years.” 

“I still had so many questions though. In my opinion, there was never a thorough investigation of her death.  Losing Exodus was the most bitter and helpless feeling I ever had in my life. Now my son Miquel will never be the same. He will always have that image in his head of finding his sister hanging. How do we heal from a  tragedy like this? How can someone deal with this kind of loss? It’s not in the A.A. book. Just tell me what book it’s in because that’s a book I want to read. Losing Exodus is the only thing in my life that I can’t find any gratitude for. Someone has to pay and take the pain, even if it’s me. It’s been four years now and I still don’t know how I’m going to survive this. I often wonder that, if I was there, maybe things would have been different.” 

“I was so proud of all my children being there and standing strong and honoring their sister. Kiki and I agreed that it would be best if she and Milan stayed back at the hotel so she wouldn’t unintentionally upset Shelley, who had just lost her own baby girl. In the face of tragedy we were all one big family.”

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Purpose: I create an empowering context for curious and hungry people looking for fulfillment, experiences, and creativity. We do this by developing their growth mindset, introducing self-love, and powerful group experiences. It results in people with strong boundaries, resilient mental health, and practical life skills

People leave with the ability to land their dream job, have autonomy and flexibility with their lifestyle, travel the world, and create from their heart and soul.


Davidson was once broke, insecure, low-confidence, and frustrated by doing all the wrong activities. Addicted to drugs, validation, and wallowing in self-pity. No relationship to family, and at the mercy of other people’s suggestions and opinions.

It was hell.

After spending $100k hiring different coaches, traveling the world doing workshops around the world, reading>1000 books, and through curiosity, have created the most effective system to remove people from that situation. My life’s work is to bring joy and abundance to people who as on a similar path as I was and bring back the joy and abundance of their life.

Through shared experiences and storytelling, I inspire and model behaviors that lead to a richer, more fulfilled life full of joy, experiences, passion, and ecstasy from the richness of relationships and being able to experience the depths of the human experience.

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