Mike Tyson’s Flight of Fancy

The Champ meets Gayle at Oprah's party

Had she not eclipsed the day at the TV Critics tour, if not the entire event, the panel people would have been talking about was that of Mike Tyson.

The former heavyweight champ, his head still embraced in tattoo, was on hand to talk – quickly and enthusiastically – about his latest post-boxing passion: racing pigeons.

“This is going to get a chance for me to broaden the horizons of people who are ignorant or perhaps neophytes on the lives of flying pigeons.”

Asked whether it would change the prevailing view of pigeons as dirty birds, Tyson turned his reply into perhaps a metaphor.

“I don’t know about their image because normally when people have an image in their mind about somebody, they want to keep that image because there’s really no reason for anyone to have –
they really want to keep that image. So it’s going to be hard for me to actually change somebody’s opinion, you know, unless I showed them the studies. There’s never been any case of anybody catching a deadly virus disease from a pigeon.”

He went on.

“I’m Mike Tyson, yeah, and that’s probably the show, but this is what we do. It’s human beings. This is what we do. Our lives are dedicated to pigeons. Even thought I’m out there fighting people, getting locked up, getting in trouble, whatever it may be in my life, my life has been always consistent and this is what we do. And when Animal Planet gave me an opportunity to show in a showcase and highlight my pigeon world, the world that I intervene with pigeons because they’re all so different. They go from so many different levels. They go all the way to the royal level, to the Queen of England, and the royal families of Europe. Everyone has racing pigeons. It’s just a cultural thing and it’s more cultural than us than something that we do for a hobby. That’s why we try to show this is not no hobby. This is something we’re going to do until the day we die.”

The fighter advised us to wise up to the bird.

“You have to understand pigeon — the history of pigeons go so much further than what we may anticipate, you know. The pigeons are men’s first feathered friend before any animal, before a chicken, before anything, because they were the first money in ancient times. For instance, when Napoleon was happening — when he was going to the battle on Waterloo, he was fighting this general from England named Willington and then Willington won the war. And there was a spy there — not necessarily a spy, but just someone there for the interest of the Rothschilds, say to speak. He released the homing pigeon. The homing pigeon got back to the Rothschild Family. He told the results of the war and they took all their money from banking and they bet it on the war and that’s how they made massive of billions of dollars, but it was from the pigeon. That’s how they got the information.”

He was much less expansive later in the day, at the OWN party, still in the Oprah shadow. But he was surprisingly available to shake hands or pose for pictures.

I asked him for example about his adventure in Connecticut real estate, owning the 48,000 square foot Jonathan Sisti mansion in Farmington from 1996 to 2003; he bought it for $2.7 million and sold it for $4.1 million.

“I was never there,” he said. “I sold it to 50 Cent.”

Had he stayed, perhaps he could have converted one of the 52 rooms into a pigeon coop.

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