Published: May 24, 2006
By Craig Gibson
Firstly Tom, thanks for taking time out to do this interview for Tysontalk
For those people who may not know you, can you tell us a little bit about how you first come to meet Mike?
Craig, before I start, Id like to thank all of your members and the fans of this website for their continued interest in Mike and for asking me to do this interview. Since this is a pretty friendly site, Ill take the time and answer your questions fully instead of being short. Ill hope to give you some interesting insight with my perspective on Mike as Ive known him and been closely involved in his life on and off over the past 25 years. So here we go?
Back in 1982 I moved to Catskill NY to live and train with Cus DAmato. Cus had trained my father when he was a boy and now I had the opportunity to do so. Several years later, Mike and I were the last two fighters living and training under the tutelage and watchful eyes of Cus.
You were a successful boxer in your own right, how come you didnt pursue it as a career?
Once Cus had passed away, I didnt trust anyone else to guide my career. I had won several amateur titles, but I was far from red hot? say out of the Olympics. I also had numerous nose operations that never resolved the occurrence of complications. I had an operation, then a car crash that destroyed the operation. At this point, I carefully decided to move on with my life seeking new challenges. As Cus would say, not all of my fighters will become champions, but if they apply the same principles in life as they did in this sport, they can become successful in any goal?.
During the after dinner tours you were introduced as having crossed over to act in Hollywood, which films have you been in?
For almost 20 years now Ive been involved in the entertainment business. I starred in a 10 hour TV mini-series called Oceano?, appeared in Johnny Be Good, Homeboy, Hells kitchen, Hollywood Confidential and a few others. Ive sold a screen play, written, directed, produced and performed live theatre. Its a fantastic career challenge that I consider a hobby. A terribly thankless profession, but a great hobby! Luckily along the way Ive gotten involved in other business interests as well.
To see the rest of this interview (click ‘Read More‘ below).
What is your current working relationship with Mike, I understand that you are his friend and Manager, does this mean that all of Mikes deals go through yourself or is he still under some form of contract with Shelly Finkel?
First let me be very clear, Im not Mikes manager. Ive helped with some recent business matters for him, but Id just consider myself a friend. Myself and others bring offers to Mike as they come about. In all matters of business, Mike is most involved in what he wishes to do. If he doesnt feel? good about an offer hell pass. Mike listens to several advisors including his ex-wife Monica. Shes proven to be a strong positive influence in his life always giving sound guidance.
What kind of projects do you see Mike getting involved in, in the future? Movies? Autobiography?
With a person of Mikes notoriety, there are many offers to consider. He clearly has a story to tell, so a book is due when he decides the time is proper. There is something cooking right now that will be announced in the next few weeks. If this does happen, youll likely be seeing Mike visiting different places in the world. Sorry to be vague, but an official announcement should be saved for those putting together the agenda.
Will we see Mike again in the UK? If yes do we have any details at this stage?
Our trips there have been GREAT!! Im not sure when or why, but Ill bet Mike is back there for something again in the near future. I did have some meetings with Simon Cowells company (America Idol) about Mike doing a TV show there, but nothing firm has been offered.
Which fight do you feel was the last fight where we saw the best of Mike Tyson?
I loved the Danny Williams fight. Until his leg blew out, it was vintage Tyson. We were able to get Mike slipping, weaving and punishing the fighter for not only being in the ring with Mike, but for even throwing punches. If that knee didnt blow, Mike would have finished Danny in a spectacular fashion. I knew if you leave Danny alone, he was dangerous, once the leg went, Danny was not able to be contained.
Here are a few questions from the members at Tysontalk.com, feel free to answer or not answer any of them.
1. Casper UK
Hi Tom. How important is the psychological aspect of the fight game and how was Mike inoculated psychologically to perform as he did in his reign as champion and contender?
The reason I ask this is because, of late, Mike seems to be a very introverted person, quite shy and docile and doesn’t seem to have that fire within him anymore. What would you say contributed to his mentality back ‘then’ and his lack of self belief now? I ask this because even during Tyson’s absolute prime there have been reports that he was a shy person with a lack of confidence, so I’m just wondering how he was able to psych himself up and what happened when his reign ended and he wasn’t able to pick himself up off the floor so to speak. Stay lucky, Tom”
Thanks Casper, good question. First let me address the shy, lack of confidence and lack of self belief? part of your question. It would be impossible to accomplish any goal of merit if you didnt feel and perform in a superior manner. This isnt arrogant, its just supreme confidence. If you want to be a Champion, you must project it, see it before others do, live it, dream it and Make it happen. As for being shy, Id call it more humble.
Cus use to say that boxing is 75% psychological and 25% physical. Keeping an edge? is difficult in many ways. First Ill tell you this, if you want to conquer your enemy, satiate him. Give him everything he wants and youll find him passive. That said, what motivates you to the top is different than what it takes to stay there. As for picking himself up off the floor?, Im exceptionally proud of Mikes journey as a man. To come from where he did, accomplish as much and continue on his quest as a man adjusting to the world as hes experienced it is no small feat. Whats most remarkable about Mike is his ability to accomplish any goal he sets out for himself. I believe that his redemption as a human lies ahead not in his past as a Boxer.
What is the full story when Tyson sparred Lennox Lewis as amateurs?, I’ve read Mike saying that he knocked him through the ropes AND knocked him out….on the other hand I’ve read Lennox saying all Mike did was give him a bloody nose….
Im not certain anybody has ever told the full story, but since I was there Ill share with you what is saw daily. Lennox was living in Canada and would come stay with us in Catskill for sometimes weeks. Noting what Lennox said after their match, Mike peaked in his teens and I (Lennox) am at my prime now?. During the sparring sessions back in the 80s, (there were numerous days & weeks of training together) although Lennox was game, Mike ALWAYS got the better of him. Much to his credit, Lennox would have a rough time, but he would fight back and come back for more. Sometimes it took a few days to heal, but Lennox always came back.
I’ve read several reports and details of Mike’s physical conditioning regime as a kid growing up and nowhere does it say anything about weight training, my question is how did he get so ripped without weight training?
Mike has so much natural strength, its an advantage other cheat to obtain. As if Im an old? man at 42, but back in the 80s, strength training, nutrition and sports specific conditioning was in the early stages of implementation. While we did do some conditioning outside of the boxing gym, most of what Mike did was just floor exercises. Cus had very specific activities in the gym that helped the fighter with his conditioning.
Would you say Mike was ‘manic depressive’ or that he suffered from depression? If yes do you think thats part of the reason that led to his downfall?
Since Im not a clinical psychologist Ill pass on diagnosing Mike. I do know that his life has been full of peaks and valleys. Ill wager this, if you were to be 21, champion of the world, worth Millions, most desired by women and had the world at your call, you might experience a little manic depression?. In fact, sign me up, Ill take it!! Seriously, can you imagine what Mike went through? In all of his early photos after Mike won the title, youll see a bald spot on the front of his head. This was caused only by the psychological pressure that he was experiencing.
Will Mike ever fight again and if he does, do you think Mike could get the stamina he used to have so he doesn’t get fatigued?
After 25 plus years Im not certain that Mike has the desire to train as hard as it takes to compete at that level. If he wanted it, he could do it. But as Mike said, Im not that guy anymore?.
Id like to know what Mikes take on Steve Lotts answers is, you mentioned Tom had seen it and probably told Mike. Steve said that he still sends Mike post like clippings on articles that might interest Mike and such like, also he has tried ringing Mike recently and leaves messages but either has the wrong number or never gets calls back. Does Mike hold some sort of grudge toward Steve or just sees no point in talking with an old friend?
As far as I know, Mike is unaware of the interview that Steve did with Tysontalk. I think Id drop dead if I ever heard Mike say I was on the internet and read?..? As for Mikes relationship with Steve I cannot comment as Ive never discussed this with Mike. I do know that Mike is now more than ever his own man. There are some people like myself that will come and go over time. Some people lasting longer than others. Ive no doubt that when and if Mike and Steve were to cross paths, it would be a warm welcome hello of old friends once again meeting.
Ask Tom Patti how much money Tyson pays him! I’ll tell you one story about him, in the Dublin show one of the people who was sitting at the main table said to Tom that there was going to be a young kid at the dinner, I think he was about 12 years old and asked him could they bring him up on stage after the dinner to meet Tyson as he was the only kid at the show, Tom Patti said NO! the person brought him up anyway, if you don’t believe me ask Tom yourself.
If you guys arent bored by now of my answers, Ill submit to you an answer for this one. As for money, Im not on Mikes payroll. In our recent business dealings, Ive been paid by Mike a 2 – 3% commission. Not because Mike hasnt offered to pay more, but because I wouldnt take the normal 10 – 15%. Probably pretty foolish on my part, but Im one of the few people to this day that can say theyve never taken advantage of Mike for financial gain. In fact, quite the opposite. Ive always been honest and true to Mike.
As for the Kid meeting Mike, Timing is everything. There are issues of crowd control, security, getting the room settled before special requests are taken care of. At our dinner receptions, the worst time for crowd control was when Mike first entered the room. There would be a rush of people, photos and autograph seekers. Within the first 10 minutes of entering the room, Charlie Hale asked if he could bring a kid up?? I told him no at that moment. About an hour later, I was the one taking the photos of Mike with the young man. In fact just this past week I emailed the photos to Charlie to give to the kid?. During this past trip to the UK including our trip to Ireland, myself, Mike and Darryl worked very hard in finding places for Mike to visit kids at. We went to hospitals, schools and spent time with children in every town we visited. Ill tell you this, Mike would rather visit kids at hospitals for free than get paid to show up at the promoted events.
For the record, the Promoter Ray Fisher told me that he had never experienced a demand from fans? as much as he has with Mike. My thought is that you can only ask so much of Mike before hed be burned out. So often I would buffer the requests as best I could.
Tom Patti. What would you say was Tyson’s best punch? We all know he had a lethal left hook, but he could do the same to his opponents with his right hand. It seemed like he had the same amount of power in both hands. So, was it his left or right that was the most powerful?”
Great question. Whats unique about Mike is that hes equally powerful with either hand. In addition, Mike can knock you out with any punch. You name the punch and Ive seen Mike knock them down with it. Throughout the History of Boxing, youd be hard pressed to find a fighter that could do this. Turk15 remember this, the punch that has the most effect is the one you dont see coming. Ive found that often the hook is effective because it comes from a blind? side.
Do you know anything about the fight, Tyson v Larry Sims. There is no footage of that fight, at least thats what all of us know. That is the only Tyson fight we dont have. Was this fight ever recorded on tape or do you happen to know where we can find it? Thanks
If my memory serves me correct (maybe I am getting old) that was the fight that the video crew did not show up at. Jim Jacobs would hire a crew to record Mikes fights and that one was missed due to the crew not showing up.
We all know mike fought with the come forward peek a boo style. But did mike ever use Alis style in sparring, you know dancing on his toes and giving lateral movement. If Mike did experiment with the dancing style in training how quick on his feet was he , was he as quick on his feet as Ali or if he wasnt quick as Ali was he as quick as Tyrell Biggs or Greg Page?.
The only variation of style that I ever saw from Mike is when hed act and fight like a Kung Fu Master during sparring sessions. To this day Mike loves these movies. In sparring, hed make the sound effects from the movies fight scenes, all the while moving his head, counter punching and having a fun time being loose in the ring. Ive often told him have fun like the Kung Fu Masters? and he does this.
Again if my memory serves me correctly, I think in the Mitch Greene fight Mike did a round or two like that. As for speed, Mikes hand and leg speed would allow him to do anything he desired, but Cus was set on creating a style that excites the crowd. Mikes size as an athlete suited Cus style perfectly.
9. Kris kail
Which classic heavyweight does Tom believe would have had a clear advantage over beating Mike Tyson in his prime? for example; Foreman? Frazier? Ali? Norton? Chuvalo? etc…
Of the lot, Foreman would have been the best challenge. He was a big brute, swinging punches from odd angles just looking to smash his opponent. That type of fighter is most difficult to fight. Nothing is orthodox. However, Im not certain that ANY fighter would fair very well against a well trained, conditioned Mike Tyson. The only person that could beat Mike Tyson is Mike Tyson, literally. Think about it, what a fantasy fight!!! Could you imagine Mike training to Beat Mike Tyson?? Two fighters of equal ability, one knowing the weakness of the other and looking to exploit it. What a fight that would be!!
Does Mike still train, try to keep in shape, and if so, what does he actually do?
Mike is an athelete first and foremost. As such hes mindful to stay in shape if he ever gets out of decent condition. As of late, hes doing a lot of low impact conditioning. Work with a conditioning coach includes proper diet, bicycle, medicine ball and some weight training.
Who has Tyson most feared, or had concerns about when walking in to the ring, if anyone?
As Cus would explain, all fighters experience fear?, the fighters job is to go out and perform to their highest potential in spite of how they feel. When it came to opponents, Mike never ducked or avoided a fight with anyone, he fought whomever was presented.
How much did he crap himself when his tiger nearly suffocated him?
Actually, Mike just laid there until she (the tiger) had decided that she had spent enough time with him. As we can all attest, some females are possessive and reluctant to let go!!
During his years as Undisputed HW champ, is there a particular training camp for a specific fight that you felt Mike trained harder, more intense for?
Much of that time I was not around the camps but in passing as I was in pursuit of my own career goals. I do remember watching Mike lose interest and his performance in the gym and in the fights reflected this. Watching Cus develop Mike as a teen and watching Mike get lazy? was a noticeable change.
I will say that unlike the first fight, Mike trained hard for the second Holyfield fight. I was with him both times weeks prior to those bouts and Ill tell you this, Mike was in condition for that second fight. I believe once Holyfield realized this, (second round) he started his holding and head butting. That of course changed the parameters of the bout.
A couple of rumors went round the British press recently, one saying that Mike had quit rehab for cocaine addiction and another about Mike having a relationship with 16yr old Chloe Butler, would you like to comment on either of these issues?
One thing thats constant in Mikes life is that people will tell and sell a story true or not just so they can benefit off of his fame. Even if it costs Mike his reputation or freedom, people will say anything to profit at his expense!! In Both of these cases, Id have to say that the story or media reports are based on little or no truth.
I do know this, his challenges and interests in living a happy healthy life to the benefit of himself, his family, his relationships and his fans is a priority.
Tom also provided this image below.
Craig Gibson & all at Tysontalk