Mike Tyson on sobriety, Evander Holyfield, fatherhood and his new Fox series
Mike Tyson said Wednesday that he hasn't had an alcoholic beverage -- or so much as a cigarette -- in 34 days, part of an ongoing effort to clean up his life and eschew all manner of temptation.
"The first week was murder," he told Newsday in a phone interview, but as time goes by he is adjusting to his new level of sobriety.
Don't mistake that for him being settled or even happy, though. The man formerly known as "Iron Mike" knows that he is a work in progress, and likely always will be.
"I never said anything about being happy," he said. "I'm trying to stay on the path, but sometimes the path stays crooked. Staying on a straight path takes a lot out of you. You're fighting against sometimes a strong wind that comes along and poof, you're off the path."
Tyson documented some of his recent path for a six-part Fox series called "Being: Mike Tyson,'' that premieres Sunday on Fox and continues the following five Tuesday nights at 10:30 on Fox Sports 1.
In it, he retraces many adventures, and misadventures, in a series of visits, including to his old neighborhood in Brooklyn, with Evander Holyfield to discuss the infamous moment when he bit off part of Holyfield's ear in the ring, to the Indiana prison in which he spent three years after a rape conviction, and with Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown.
Tyson, 47, initially was reluctant to participate, but his family and friends convinced him to do it. Why? "They thought it was a great idea when they saw the check," he said, laughing.
"Going from being the 'Baddest Man on the Planet,' which people used to call me, I had a lot of wreckage," he said. "I had to pay my bills and stuff."
Tyson said he has not seen the show and will not see it.
"I gave it the best I could possibly give them, but I'm not much into watching myself," he said. "I don't think I'm television-friendly from my eyes."
One of the highlights for Tyson was "making amends" with the warden of his prison, although he still maintains that he was "falsely accused" in the case.
Tyson's current (relative) serenity and stable family life also are documented in the series.
"This is my new life," he said. "I'm just so happy that so many people supported me in this. What I'm trying to do is convey gratitude."
Although Tyson and Holyfield long since have reconciled, their on-camera sit-down is sure to receive much of the attention in the series.
"I think Evander is an awesome individual," Tyson said, despite their personality differences. "He's an introvert kind of guy. I'm an extremely extroverted individual."
Tyson said he still has family and friends in Brooklyn, including some of his eight children, the oldest of which is 24. He acknowledged being an "absentee dad" with the older ones in their younger years.
"I'm just trying to build trust back up with them," he said. "It's their life now. I'm just someone who is a great friend of theirs, almost like an uncle. I'm just happy they talk to me and they're my friends."
Tyson said he is in relatively good shape physically for an aging boxer, but for the lingering effects of a broken shoulder he suffered in a motorcycle accident. "Other than that, everything is great," he said.
So far, so good.
"Hey, man," Tyson said. "I'm just happy to be enjoying the life I have now."