By Mark Vester
Former undipsuted heavyweight champion Mike Tyson sat down with Details Magazine to discuss numerous topics about his life and his boxing career. One of Tyson's big inspirations to become a fighter was heavyweight legend Muhammad Ali. Tyson said watching Ali's fights taught him a lot of things that he was able to use in the ring when he turned pro, but the biggest thing he learned from Ali - was how to "be mean."
"Believe it or not, with all that poetry and the butterflies, what I learned from Ali was meanness. He was the meanest fighter of all time. He'd be in there with Foreman, hardest puncher of all time, he'd be in there with Frazier, another hardest puncher, and he'd be taking it, boom, getting pounded, and then he'd turn, when it was his time, and you'd look at that face, and he's screaming. [Does an Ali impression] "I'm not [Throws a punch] scared [Throws a punch] of you, you f**king f*ggot," Tyson said.
"[Throws two punches] You f**king punk. I'm f**king God, and worship me. I'm the greatest. [Throws two punches] You're a little f**king boy, c**ksucker." Nobody at ringside reported it, but nobody sh*t-talked like Ali."
When it came to the subject of the two defeats to Evander Holyfield, Tyson said he shouldn't have been put in the ring with Holyfield so quickly after getting out of prison. Even at that point, Tyson had already stopped caring about boxing and only wanted to make money.
"Man, I didn't care about boxing anymore. I was wrong to do that—all wrong—all crazy to do that. But that wasn't about boxing. I just wanted to f**king maim him. I had no business being in that ring. A year out of prison, 16 months out of prison, already with two belts to defend? I had no business with those belts. I was already done," Tyson said.
"They put you, a writer, in prison, for three years, hands tied behind your back. Then they put you up against some hack, and you outwrite him, and they give you two awards. And then I put you up against a Nobel Prize winner? Absurd."
Another big inspiration to Tyson was Jack Dempsey, another heavyweight legend. He said Dempsey taught him the required skills to be a killer, to be vicious in the ring and to make his opponents suffer.
"I studied every fighter in history, at my manager's house up in Catskill, 'cause he had all the greatest fights on film, he had every last one of them, and I watched them all, every night. They were all so vicious, man. Jake LaMotta, Henry Armstrong, Carmen Basilio. Sugar Ray—God, he was vicious," Tyson said.
"But Jack Dempsey more than anyone. All these guys let you know they wanted to murder you, and they'd take shots from you, over and over and over, get beat senseless, just so they could get theirs in. Sugar Ray maybe most of all. But Jack Dempsey? He wanted to maim you. He didn't want you dead. He wanted you to suffer. He wanted to shatter your eye socket, destroy your cheeks, your chinbone. That's what I learned from Mr. Dempsey, and I believe I learned it well."
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