Mike Tyson was so scared of killing his opponents in the ring, that he often needed to have sex with groupies before fights to take the edge off his rage, his former bodyguard and chauffeur has claimed.
‘He had to get laid to disengage some of the strength he had,’ Rudy Gonzalez told The Sun. ‘So I had girls tucked away in bathrooms and changing rooms.
‘Sometimes he’d go in with them for a minute, bang the s*** out of them, snap his neck and say: ‘Okay this guy is going to live tonight.’
The strategy may have worked. Tyson, now 55, never did kill anyone in the ring, although he bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997, leading to a disqualification in their infamous rematch.
As Gonzalez explained, the ritual was born out of the heavyweight champion’s fear of killing another boxer.
‘His biggest fear was that he would kill someone in that ring. He knew he could do it.
‘It is no exaggeration to say Mike was like a train hitting these guys. Having sex was his way of disengaging that power and loosening up a bit.’
In addition to rage and sex, Tyson’s pre-fight routine was also defined by intense anxiety and sorrow.
‘He had an anxiety problem where he would be in despair with anxiety of not feeling good enough or not wanting to screw it up,’ Gonzalez said.
‘Mike had the fear that if he screwed this up, he would end up back in his old neighborhood or be locked up.’
And Tyson had reason to fear his former life.
Abandoned by his father at birth, and orphaned at 16 when his mother passed away, Tyson grew up in Brooklyn’s rough Brownsville neighborhood in the 1970s and had the physical and emotional scars to prove it.
According to several accounts, Tyson was targeted for his short stature and his lisp at a young age, and he responded by getting arrested 38 times by age 13.
He was eventually enrolled at the Tryon School for Boys in Johnstown, New York, where a corrections officer named Bobby Stewart introduced him to boxing and legendary trainer Cus D’Amato, who would become Tyson’s legal guardian.
Tyson would soon become the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history by beating Trevor Berbick in 1986 at age 20.
But his aside from his prodigious power (44 of his 50 career wins ended by knockout), Tyson will also be remembered for disappointments inside and outside the ring.
He steamrolled over lesser opponents in the late 1980s, but his one-year marriage to actress Robin Givens ended with allegations of abuse against Tyson.
In 1990, in what was thought to be a warmup fight for his much-anticipated bout with Holyfield, Tyson was stunned by James ‘Buster’ Douglas.
Douglas would promptly lose his titles to Holyfield, rendering a rematch pointless, but Tyson got back on the winning track with three straight knockouts and a unanimous decision victory over Donovan Ruddock in their rematch.
However, before Tyson could step into the ring with Holyfield, he would be accused and convicted of raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant in an Indianapolis hotel room.
He would return to the ring in 1995, but Tyson was never the same. After winning four easy bouts upon his release, Tyson would go 5-5 over the remainder of his career, including two losses to Holyfield and a knockout defeat to Lennox Lewis. His career ended in 2005 with a an embarrassing loss to unheralded Kevin McBride.
In retirement, Tyson has changed his public persona, launching a one-man show in 2013 in which he discussed his often traumatic upbringing and adult life. He’s also started charities for children from broken homes, appeared in movies, such as The Hangover series, and is now a cannabis entrepreneur.
He’s also opened up about past drug use, which he said centered on cocaine, but also included the venom from a poisonous toad that he said actually left him legally dead for a brief moment.
‘In my trips I’ve seen that death is beautiful,’ Tyson told the New York Post recently. ‘Life and death both have to be beautiful, but death has a bad rep. The toad has taught me that I’m not going to be here forever. There’s an expiration date.
‘I did it as a dare,’ Tyson sad of ingesting the psychedelic. ‘I was doing heavy drugs like cocaine, so why not? It’s another dimension. Before I did the toad, I was a wreck. The toughest opponent I ever faced was myself. I had low self-esteem. People with big egos often have low self-esteem. We use our ego to subsidize that. The toad strips the ego.’
A year ago, Tyson stepped into the ring for an exhibition against former multi-weight division title-winner Roy Jones Jr. The WBC unofficially called the bout a draw.