Alex Massie

Mike Tyson and the Fancy

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I don't, alas, believe for a second that this magazine cover is real but, my, how I really, really wish it were.

Anyway, it seems that Mike Tyson is going to be appearing in a new reality TV show about, yup, pigeon racing. Really, right now, I'm pushed to come up with a better TV proposal than that.

Needless to say the folks at PETA are not amused.

But according to the New York Post Tyson's been part of the fancy since he was a kid. This will be the first time he's trained doos for actual racing, however. The Post reports:

Tyson began with pigeons, he says, at age 10 or 11 in his Brownsville neighborhood, swiping milk crates for bigger kids who used them as coops for their birds.

"I cleaned cages," he says. "I was their go-fer."

In exchange, "I got the strays."

He kept his birds in a small coop attached to the windowsill of his apartment on Amboy Street for a while, he says, and later in a nearby abandoned building.

"I couldn't fly them off the roof," he explains. "Big kids would come and steal them."

And it was the birds that steered him to boxing, he says now.

"I never hurt anybody until somebody hurt one of my birds," Tyson says.

I think we can all agree that "I never hurt anybody until somebody hurt one of my birds" is an early candidate for Best Magnificent, Too Good, Not At All Engineered or Anything Tabloid Quote of the Year. Genius. I dunno, it's like Mike's also planning to star in a remake of On the Waterfront or something.

Tyson, mind you, is one of the saddest, most interesting stories in boxing in recent decades.I dare say David Remnick's forthcoming Obama book will be fine but I'd rather he written one about Iron Mike instead.

[Hat-tip: Andrew]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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