Mike Tyson returns to boxing this week -- as a promoter.
And while he has yet to stage his first fight, he certainly knows the first rule of promoting -- get attention. On a conference call Monday intended to hype the fight, Tyson, 47, admitted to having suicidal thoughts, using drugs and "putting his hands" on people.
He was asked what, if anything, he learned from his former promoter, Don King.
"If I learned something, it was that I learned how to tell my fighters lies and manipulate them and steal their money," Tyson said of his time with King.
King began promoting Tyson after Tyson was released from prison in 1995. King promoted some of Tyson's biggest fights, including both Evander Holyfield bouts. At the time, the Tyson-Holyfield fights were the highest grossing fights in boxing history. In 1998, Tyson sued King for $200 million, accusing the promoter of stealing millions off his purses. Tyson later settled for $14 million.
The former heavyweight champion said Monday he forgives everyone who crossed him in boxing -- including King -- and his approach to promoting would be entirely different from what he experienced as a fighter.
"Being a professional promoter, I am just really interested in helping young kids," he said. "I'm never going to be wealthy again, but I can still give back . . . You will never hear one of my fighters say, 'Mike Tyson stole from me.' Hopefully they won't end up like me, saying where is all my money and friends?"
Tyson works with Acquinity Sports and has formed a promotional company called Iron Mike Productions. Their debut card is Friday night at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y., on ESPN. The main bout features IBF junior featherweight champ Argenis Mendez (21-1) defending his crown against Arash Usmanee (20-1).
Tyson said he ultimately would like to match Mendez against Cuban superstar Yuriorkis Gamboa, who is promoted by rapper 50 Cent.
The conference call was about 30 minutes long and touched on a wide range of subjects in Tyson's life. He opened by admitting, "I was planning on killing myself," around 2008 or 2009 and he summed up his drug use as "OD-ing every night."
Tyson credits his wife, Lakiha Spicer, with saving his life. He said it was Spicer who encouraged him to perform on stage and begin this promotional endeavor.
Tyson also said he would like to some day train fighters.
"It will come," he said. "I will find a fighter that I can develop. You have to build these guys up from the amateurs. I want to take them right off the streets . . . I want someone who was just like me."