These are the racing pigeons, the ones that are the focus of the show.
Tyson acknowledges that he’s a novice in the sport, but that’s the reason Animal Planet has been following him. The network wants to see how the one-time “Baddest Man on the Planet” can stack up against people who have been breeding and training racing pigeons for years.
The sport was introduced in the United States in the late 1800s, and has grown to the point where there are about 15,000 registered lofts, according to the American Racing Pigeon Union.
Trainers bring their birds to a central location, sometimes several hundred miles from home, and outfit them with electronic timers. Then the birds are released and fly back to their coop, with the time recorded when they pass through the door. That number is factored into the distance traveled to determine their speed, and the fastest birds are declared the winners.
There is big money in pigeon racing. Breeders spend thousands of dollars on birds, and some competitions award up to $50,000 _ not to mention the betting that takes place on the side.
Then there are the bragging rights, and to Tyson, those are more valuable than money.
“Slowly but surely, I’m gaining a name in the business, and I’m very grateful for that as well,” Tyson says. “It’s competitive, but it’s all in love.”
Tyson made a name for himself by knocking out anybody with enough chutzpah to stand across from him in a boxing ring. The youngest fighter ever to win the heavyweight title, he was so dynamic that folks would tune in just to see how long it’d take for him to win.
Things began to come unglued, though, after he was upset by Buster Douglas in February 1990. The following year he was accused of rape, and in 1992 he began serving what would end up being three years in prison. His comeback included biting off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear, saying he wanted to eat Lennox Lewis’ children and quitting against journeyman Kevin McBride.
That was the last time he fought professionally, despite financial trouble that forced him to file for bankruptcy. Today, he doesn’t miss the sport one bit.
“Best thing that happened to me was to retire from boxing,” he says. “I just didn’t want that no more in my life. It was just too chaotic.”
It seemed that Tyson was destined to fade into oblivion, like so many ex-fighters before him. But then something remarkable happened, something that brought him back into the spotlight.
It turned out he was pretty entertaining outside the ring, too.
He was the focus of an award-winning documentary by James Toback, “Tyson,” that took a stark, sobering and sometimes cringe-worthy look at his life. Then he appeared as himself in the comedy hit “The Hangover,” lightheartedly singing Phil Collins and ripping off a series of hilarious one-liners in the movie about a Las Vegas bachelor party gone awry.View Entire Story
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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