Interview: Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson Mysteries

Mike Tyson. Iron Mike. The Baddest Man Alive. Very few people will ever reach the level of stardom that this Brooklyn born champion has commanded for several decades. He’s made millions throughout his career as a professional boxer and shattered more than a handful of records. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest boxers to ever exist. Yes, he has a very storied history, but this is not the place to discuss that.

Despite all the success, there is still one title Tyson has never held: cartoon star. Thankfully Adult Swim has come to fix that. Premiering tonight at 10:30 PM, Tyson himself will come into the cartoon realm with Mike Tyson Mysteries, a send up of classic cartoons like Scooby-Doo and The A-Team. Throughout the 11 minute run-time, Tyson will team up with his adopted Korean daughter Yung Hee (Rachel Ramras), Pigeon (Norm MacDonald), and the ghost of John Chambers the 9th Marquess of Queensbury (Jim Rash). The show promises to be a bundle of pure absurdity.

To promote the show, Adult Swim set up press hours where a lucky few were able to talk with Ramras, producer Hugh Davidson, and the boxing legend himself. Below you will find the product of our brief round table discussion with Tyson where he talked about his new cartoon, bird sex, and what’s next for Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!.

Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/WireImage for Turner Networks
Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/WireImage for Turner Networks

How did this show get started?

Mike Tyson: Warner Bros. came to my house one day, and they built a proposal that I should do a cartoon off Scooby Doo meets The A-Team. I said, “This is not gonna be good,” and then they said they’re not paying much and I said, “Oh this is definitely not gonna be good.” So my wife explained to me this was Adult Swim, and I didn’t know at the time really what Adult Swim was. I was thinking it was whole bunch of old rich white guys go swimming in some exotic lake and become young again. (Laughs) My wife explained no, it was not that. She said you can curse and I said, “Well that’s a possibility. I like to curse.” We did a couple of episodes and I really didn’t like the episodes, and then I saw the rough copy and I said, “Whoa! Let’s do those episodes over because now I’m going to do this with some more exhilarating enthusiasm.” I’m really proud of this project. I enjoy doing it! I had no idea the footage would look so clear. Yeah, I’m a cartoon character!

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You have to think about it really. I don’t know, 25, 26 years ago, I’m at my leanest. I’m making $30-40 million dollars a fight. I’m a big star! I can do whatever I want! I can have my cars, play with my plane, I got my boat. Cartoons wouldn’t touch me with a million foot pole back then, I had so much. Just to say I’m at this stage now doing international shows and international movies. I’m doing so much that no way I would’ve been able to do if I was fighting because I was such a megalomaniac. It just wouldn’t have happened. Being humbled in life gives you a lot of opportunities to clean your life up, clear your soul and spirit up. That’s what I think pretty much happens.

Since we’re at Comic Con, what was your favorite comic book growing up? Who were your favorite comic book characters?

MT: I looked at a lot of wrestling magazines. Marvel Comics pretty much, Space Ghost, Galaxy Trio.

I know the first season is already finished by this point. In the future, if Nintendo was ever willing, what would an episode entail with Little Mac from Mike Tyson’s Punch Out?

MT: Hey listen, I really would be interested in doing that. I was also thinking about reinventing and doing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out 2!

Photo Credit: Pop-Break.com
Photo Credit: Pop-Break.com

Bringing Little Mac back for some more?

MT: He’ll be…Big Mac! Little Big Mac! (Laughs)

Whose idea was it to get you to say, “Ain’t got time for bird sex”? Are you going to say more of that in the series?

MT: Yes I am! We’ll sing some gospel hymns and stuff. Little erotic gospel hymns but they be gospel hymns.

Besides you, who is your favorite character on the show?

MT:  Yung Hee, my adopted Chinese daughter who I find out is Korean. Yeah, she’s my favorite character. The pigeon is just a wretched, disgusting character. He’s a bad guy.

Who would you like to guest star on the show?

MT: It’s going to be an array of people. I may have a makeshift magic wand. I may carry some pimps up hoes down. I’ll have Flava Flav, Bobby Brown in there. We’re gonna do a dance, a little “every step you take.”

Mike, you’ve done TV, sports. Is there anything that you’d like to try that you haven’t actually put your hand into as of yet?

MT: Yeah, musicals! Yeah! (Laughs)

Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/WireImage for Turner Networks
Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/WireImage for Turner Networks

What do you say to people who are missing a little bit of confidence in life, who lose that spark? What do you say to them who look up to you?

MT: To be a human being, we have to have self doubt. You can’t be a human being without self doubt. That’s how we challenge ourselves. We all have fears. I have fears that one day my wife might leave me or I might be broke and homeless. We all have those fears, but we have to believe in ourselves. I know it’s hard to believe in ourselves but we have to. I know people who have nothing, but their confidence is sky high! I know people who have everything, they don’t have to move, but they have no confidence and their self-esteem is so low. You gotta look in the mirror and say, “I deserve a beautiful life! I’ve done nothing wrong with anybody. I deserve to have a good life. I deserve a wife and girlfriend that don’t cheat on me. I don’t deserve to take any bad treatment from anybody.”

Even though I was successful, had hundreds of girlfriends, hundreds of millions of dollars, I didn’t think I deserved it! I realize now I deserve a great life. I suffered for it. I’m not gonna tolerate anything less. It’s all about how you feel about yourself in life. You want people to like us but no ones gonna like us if we don’t like ourselves! You don’t think people can see through your self-esteem? People see you feel good about yourself and you’re kind to yourself, people will be kind to you. People will treat you how you treat yourself.

Mike Tyson Mysteries airs tonight at 10:30pm on Adult Swim.

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Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.
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