Mike Tyson opened up on the psychological warfare he inflicted on his opponents during his storied boxing career.
From his aggressive fighting style, intimidating ring walk and simple attire, it is often said the former heavyweight champion had men beaten by the time he entered the ring.
The New Yorker blitzed through heavyweight contenders in the 1980’s
Tyson beat Trevor Berbick to become the youngest heavyweight champion ever when he took his WBC belt in 1986
And for Tyson that was a necessity given that he was usually a bag of nerves himself before a fight.
“It’s not that I liked hurting people, I liked to portray the perception that I liked hurting people,” he told Hollywood legend William Shatner on his Hotboxin podcast.
“With that perception, he becomes intimidated.”
Asked in particular about the infamous quote aimed at heavyweight rival Lennox Lewis in which he claimed he would ‘eat his children’, he said people had to believe he would do something as outlandish as that.
The Tyson rant
After beating Lou Savarese in 2000, Tyson ignored the post-fight questions to issue Lennox Lewis with a terrifying threat
“I’m the best ever. I’m the most brutal and vicious and ruthless champions that’s ever been.
“There’s no one who can stop me. Lennox is a conquerer? No, I’m Alexander. He’s no Alexander. I’m the best ever. There’s never been anybody as ruthless.
“I’m Sonny Liston. I’m Jack Dempsey. There’s no one like me, I’m from their cloth.
“There’s no one that can match me. My style is impetuous. My defense is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious. I want your heart, I want to eat his children.”
Lewis stopped Tyson during their 2002 fight in Memphis
“Some of my prior antics over the years could make him think that possibly I will eat his kids,” as he revealed he used intimidation as a weapon because he was scared himself.
“But I was not intimidated,” he explained. “Being intimidated prevents me from acting. I don’t care how big you are, if you hit me I’m going to hit you back.”
Tyson, who has since said he doesn’t like the man he once was, used that aura in the build-up to his eventual 2002 fight with champion Lewis.
There were ugly scenes at the pre-fight press conference which descended into a full on brawl, while a ring of security separated them in the ring on the night of the fight in Tennessee – chosen because Nevada would not grant Tyson a license.
Tyson, who was at one point the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, was beaten by Lewis, which was his last title fight before eventually retiring from boxing in 2005.
The two men are now friends and Lewis has even joked he used to use the threat from ‘Iron Mike’ as a way to warn his kids to behave.
My son & wife with @MikeTyson at @nvbhof gala! When my kids act out I still tell them uncle Mike will eat them up! 😂 pic.twitter.com/BOAvr3pvvL
— Lennox Lewis, CBE, CM (@LennoxLewis) August 10, 2015