Boxing

Mike Tyson Knows He’s an Alcoholic but Refuses to Call Himself One

Mike Tyson’s life has been a rollercoaster. He’s been on top of the world. He’s hit rock bottom. In the 1980s, Tyson was the world’s most recognized and most feared boxer. In the 1990s, he spent three years in prison after a rape charge. Tyson has also battled substance abuse. He realizes he’s an alcoholic but refuses to call himself one.

Mike Tyson at the top

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If you were a boxer in the 1980s, you wanted to be like Mike Tyson. Tyson was the most feared and most dominant boxer of his time. He made quick work of many of his opponents. He won his first 19 fights by knockout, and 12 of them came in the first round.

At the age of 20, Tyson was already the heavyweight champion of the world. He was the youngest boxer to hold a heavyweight title. He went on to win the first 37 fights in his professional career. Tyson was ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s list of hardest heavyweight hitters.

He finished his professional career with a record of 50-6. Of his 50 victories, 44 came via knockout. Tyson is a member of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Tyson’s troubles outside the ring

Mike Tyson was 41-1 as a pro boxer — his lone loss coming against James ‘Buster’ Douglas — when he was convicted of rape in 1991. Tyson was sentenced to prison for six years but served three. He returned to boxing in 1995, and although he made quick work of Peter McNeeley in his return to the ring, Tyson was never the same.

After the McNeeley fight, Tyson went 8-5 in his next 13 bouts. Despite raking in more than $300 million during his boxing days, Tyson declared bankruptcy in 2003. In 2006, Tyson was arrested for suspicion of DUI and felony drug possession. He’s admitted he has a substance abuse problem.

In 2005, Tyson, according to USA Today, said, “My whole life has been a waste — I’ve been a failure. I just want to escape. I’m really embarrassed with myself and my life. I want to be a missionary and I think I could do that while keeping my dignity without letting people know they chased me out of the country. I want to get this part of my life over as soon as possible.”

Tyson said he’s an alcoholic but won’t refer to himself as one

During one of Mike Tyson’s podcasts, “Hotboxin’ With Mike Tyson,” Tyson admitted he as an alcoholic. Tyson said he can’t get himself to call himself one, though. He was speaking with fellow boxer Tyson Fury, who also has battled substance abuse, and they were discussing the topic.

“I won’t say I’m an alcoholic,” Tyson said. “I’ll say I’m a drug addict or I’m everything else, but in my sick mind, I’m too proud to be an alcoholic. But I’m a big alcoholic. In my mind, I don’t want to say that. I’d rather be the drug addict. It’s cooler to be the coke head.

“I don’t want to ever tell anybody I’m an alcoholic. That’s what I’m embarrassed about, being an alcoholic.”

Statistics courtesy of BoxRec.