You can do many things with Mike Tyson.
You can chat about tigers, race pigeons across the Sierra Madre and trick him into pronouncing the word “thistle.”
What you cannot do, however, is spring a loaded question on him regarding his prior sexual assault conviction in the middle of a live television broadcast.
This is the scene that played out Wednesday afternoon when Tyson sat down with CP24 Toronto News anchor Nathan Downer.
In Toronto to promote his one-man show, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, Tyson stopped by the studio for an interview with Downer. Presumably expecting a couple of cupcake questions and a handshake, Tyson found himself in the crosshairs when Downer ambushed the boxer with a question regarding his recent meet-and-greet with Toronto mayor Rob Ford.
Specifically, Downer wanted to know if Tyson—a convicted sex offender—had further damaged Ford’s re-election campaign by associating with the mayor.
Warning: Video contains NSFW language.
“Some of your critics would say, ‘You know, there’s a race for mayor, we know you’re a convicted rapist, this could hurt his campaign,” Downer said. “How would you respond to that?”
Not well, Nathan.
To his credit, Tyson didn’t spontaneously combust into a human bonfire upon hearing the question. He attempted to brush it off.
“I don’t know who said that. You’re the only one I heard say that,” Tyson said. “And I don’t have no comment for that, because it’s negative and you’re being negative…and I met the mayor. And there’s nothing they can do about it.”
Nonetheless, Downer had struck a nerve, and Tyson wasn’t about to let it go. He quickly interrupted his handler to make his feelings known.
“It’s so interesting because you seem like a nice guy but you’re really a piece of s--t,” Tyson said.
Downer tried to finish out the interview with some innocuous questions about Tyson’s show.
“Is it nerve-wracking for you to do something like [a Broadway show]? Or is more nervous for you to box?” Downer asked.
“It’s more nerve-racking for me to hear us talking to a rat piece of s--t like you,” Tyson answered.
Thus ended another Taster's Choice moment with Tyson.
After the program, Downer took to Twitter to say he hadn't meant to antagonize Tyson:
At the risk of sounding like a Tyson apologist, it must be noted that questions such as the one that triggered Iron Mike’s rage are usually screened and agreed to prior to broadcasting. Talk show hosts who want to speak about sensitive subjects (and avoid public meltdowns) will make sure it’s OK with their guests before putting them on the spot.
It appears Downer did not do this, and while he’s entitled to ask hard questions, he shouldn’t be surprised if the tiger bites back when poked. Unless, of course, that was his goal for the interview.
In any case, chalk up another highly quotable, live interview gem for the former champ. Tigers don’t like rats, almost as much as Tyson doesn’t like hardball interviews.
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