Mike Tyson Opens Up in Interview with Rachel Nichols on CNN's 'Unguarded'

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIDecember 20, 2013

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 10:  Former boxer and inductee Mike Tyson arrives at the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame inaugural induction gala at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino on August 10, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Renowned former heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson has been sharing his unique life story as much as ever lately with an autobiography titled Undisputed Truth, which has also turned into a one-man Broadway show.

Tyson has left himself vulnerable again, this time in an interview on Unguarded with Rachel Nichols that will air Friday, Dec. 20 at 10:30 p.m. on CNN.

The 47-year-old has led a turbulent life that has included heavy drug use, violence outside the ring and a slew of run-ins with the law. One element that set the stage for such a lifestyle was Tyson's childhood, which he explained to Nichols during the interview.

In implying that there was little hope to find success from his hometown, Tyson described the influences that surrounded him from an early age.

"Drugs, and thefts, and gang infested, crime infested, 'No hope Brownsville,' Brooklyn. There's just no hope.  It was just slum dwellers," said Tyson.

Nichols asked Tyson how many times he was arrested as a kid, and he estimated "quite a few times, over 30 times—over 40 times" by the time he was approximately 11 or 12 years old.

After being venerated as the Heavyweight Champion of the World at the ripe age of 20, the early success was something Tyson felt he wasn't ready to handle because it gave him a sense of invincibility.

"It gives you a false sense of security," said Tyson. "It makes you somewhat believe that you can't even die.  And it turns you into a coward.

"This is what I know: People aren't born humble. Human beings have to be humbled in order to really appreciate the value of life."

Tyson became "very jaded" with boxing after initially feeling pride in the fact that at one time, he was the most prolific boxer on the planet. The sport felt more like a job to Tyson than an impassioned career path he'd carved, and it didn't leave time for him to focus on other areas of his life.

Even with all that money and all that success I had, I didn't get anything done. My kids never saw me. I was a horrible father. I'm accomplishing so much and getting so much done now as a human being than I could've ever done back then in the prime of my fighting career.

Pressed about his past involving substance abuse with drugs and alcohol, Tyson explained that he hasn't had the urge to use in four months since going clean. However, he did acknowledge the struggle and the difficulty the fight has been.

I don't have any urges now. It’s been four months and I haven't had any urges. So, I guess I'm winning so far. I've never been responsible before. So, this is the biggest fight, this is the fight that I'm taking with open arms. This is really the interesting battle.

What truly brought on Tyson's commitment to sobriety was a press conference in August, when he said he'd been sober for only about six days, which to him was something of a miracle, per FightNetwork.com.

(Warning: Video contains language NSFW.)

Financial problems have plagued the retired Tyson, and in his new role as a fight promoter, he said he would make sure his clients would get their money and be responsible with it.

Asked what the best advice he could impart to fellow boxers, the ever-quotable Tyson delivered a memorable one-liner.

"Just have a lawyer and forget everyone else. Your lawyer is your groupie. You hang out with your lawyer," said Tyson.

It has certainly been quite the odyssey for Tyson since he walked away from boxing for good in 2005, having compiled a record of 50-6 with two no contests in 58 bouts. Forty-four of Tyson's 50 victories were by knockout, providing an indicator of how explosive and powerful he was in his heyday.

Hints have been dropped by Unguarded's official Twitter account that Tyson entered the ring again during the program, and it's sure to be interesting to see what happened there:

As a reminder, tune in to CNN on Friday evening at 10:30 p.m. to view Nichols' interview with Tyson in its entirety.