Mike Tyson tells his tales of redemption in Hong Kong

One-time 'baddest man on earth' talks about his life, family - and women

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 2:13pm

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson didn't appear too fierce as he stood at the champagne bar of the Grand Hyatt in Wan Chai.

The warrior tattoo on his face was there, a remnant of his chequered past, but dressed in a clean white shirt, khaki pants and a muted check jacket Tyson didn't look like the man who in fury bit off part of fellow boxer Evander Holyfield's ear.

He didn't look like the man whose wife publicly accused him of domestic violence, or who was convicted of raping an 18-year-old beauty contestant.

"I don't have the desire to be that guy any more ... being that guy I can't have a relationship with my wife and my children. That guy takes up so much of my life ... and not in a good perspective either," he tells journalists with his characteristic soft lisp.

For several years now, Tyson has been trying to shed the image of the "baddest man on earth", trading it in for the title of "Mr Dad". He's been lying low, trading in his boxing bouts for movie cameos, a one-man show on Broadway and speaking engagements across the world.

Tyson, 46, is in town this week as a headliner for financial firm CLSA's Investor Forum, joining the ranks of George Clooney, Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan and Sarah Palin.

The father-of-six now leads a domestic life that is a far cry from his former notoriety. He insists his boxing days are over and that he is becoming a different kind of entertainer. "I want to sing and dance in musicals," he said with a Billy Elliot-like twirl.

This is the message he presented to a ballroom filled with about 1,200 CLSA clients who were there to hear about his life before and after boxing: his time in juvenile detention and prison, his conversion to Islam, sobriety, family and even the tragedies.

Such stories of redemption resonate with clients, CLSA head of communications Anne Tehan said.

Later, Tyson, who spent three years in jail for rape, talked openly on the topic, commenting on Indian political magazine Tehelka's findings on how police in New Delhi think women who are raped deserve it.

"In certain parts of the world we have this closed mindset about women. And even though we're great men, good men ... sometimes men want to dominate women, because that's what we've been taught since we were ... little boys."

He compared the Indian police view that women who report rape aren't genuine victims with Republican Party member Todd Akin's statement last month that a woman's body would not allow conception if she was the victim of "legitimate" rape.

"Let's just go with a great saying from Chairman Mao. No investigation, no right to speak. Everything should be investigated."