Tyson is brutal on himself throughout the book, despairing of his lack of self-control and feelings of inadequacy. But he’s equally brutal about the people around him in a career that made him more than $300 million, yet left him so broke today that he says he will never be able to pay off his IRS debts.
He calls first wife Robin Givens a manipulative shrew who made him act like a trained puppy, says Evander Holyfield was a serial head butter with ties to steroids, and claims the late referee Mitch Halpern was drunk in the ring during his first fight with Holyfield in 1996.
And while he tells an epic tale of beating up British promoter Frank Warren in a London hotel room in 2000 for not paying his $800,000 jewelry bill, he saves special venom for the havoc Don King wreaked in his life.
Tyson was an equal opportunity fighter when it came to beating up promoters, detailing several times he bloodied King, including once on Miami highway when he tried to strangle him in the car from behind.
“When I think about all the horrific things that Don has done to me over the years I still feel like killing him,” Tyson said.
There’s more, much more. Tyson knows how to tell a story, and he tells them about people you don’t expect, like the day he found actor Brad Pitt at Givens’ house. When Tyson confronted them, he said Pitt begged, “Dude, don’t stroke me. Don’t stroke me. We were just going over some lines.”
He talks about money as dispassionately as he does about sex, though it was difficult for him to hold on to any of it. When he fired everyone and got new accountants in 2000 they prepared a statement showing he started the year $3.3 million in the hole but made $65.7 million.
“The problem was that I spent $62 million that year,” Tyson said, including $2.1 million on cars.
And the Maori tribal tattoo he got on his face? It was supposed to be some little hearts instead, but the tattoo artist talked him out of it.
By the time his career ended with a loss to journeyman Kevin McBride in 2005, Tyson was fat and more interested in partying than fighting. He would go on to bloat up to 380 pounds and continue to drink, smoke and snort his way through strip clubs and bars.
“I just said to myself, Wow, this is over. Now I can go out and really have fun.”
The book was supposed to have a happy ending, with Tyson slim and happy in his new life with wife Kiki, who he credits for his attempt at sobriety. But Tyson had to write a new epilogue after acknowledging in August that he had gone out drinking again.
He’s back in AA and he’s trying to stay sober, he says. But life for Tyson has always been a constant struggle.
“I desperately want to get well,” he says. “I have a lot of pain and I just want to heal. And I’m going to do my best to do just that. One day at a time.”