Mike Tyson is known for breaking down publicly, but it happened when he interviewed fellow boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard.
A pivotal moment in the podcast show era it happened on an episode of Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson as Leonard guest-starred.
The two Hall of Famers – arguably the best of their respective era – chatted openly during 85 minutes and 53 seconds of pure gold for any boxing fan.
During the interview, Leonard and Tyson were entirely at ease with each other, as respect oozed from their bodies throughout the taping.
It culminated in a short extract from Tyson instantly gaining worldwide attention.
“Boxing gave me so, so much, man,” Sugar Ray told Tyson at around 7:30 seconds. “And I know it sounds corny, but you know what, I don’t care.
“I am who I am because of boxing. I’m here doing this interview with you, Mike, because of boxing.
“There were times I had things happen to me that I to – wow, that I had to deal with. Being sexually abused by a coach who I believe in, who I trusted.
“I don’t know why I brought that up. But I’m glad I was able to bring that up. Because Mike, I love you, man.
“We go through battles in the ring. When I give speeches, I use boxing as a metaphor because we are fighters outside of the ring. We get knocked down, and we need a great corner. We have to do our own version of roadwork.
“And you know, I enjoy doing this because, at first, I would shed tears back in the day – years ago. I would cry because I couldn’t talk about this. These subject matters. But I can talk about them now because of where I am and who I am.”
Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard
At this point, Mike asks co-host and ex-American footballer Eden Britton to step in and fill the time as he composes himself.
Tyson eventually returned to the conversation a few minutes later with one of the most powerful statements he’s ever made.
Before that, Leonard continued opening up honestly as Tyson visibly wiped the tears away from his eyes.
“I was in a brutal sport for forty years, and to come out somewhat unscathed is genuinely a dream come true, a blessing.
“I’ve done all those things from cocaine, and I’m an alcoholic, which I would never say as I was trying to take care of myself and being a publicist. But I talk about these things because you know why? – They help other people, they help other people.”
Ray mentioned his book as Eden, then brought Mike back in.
He chokingly said: “This is beautiful that you came to this place in your life. And we all come to this place in life. I guess it has to do with our mortality in some way.
“Do we really believe we will see God after we die? – And will he be okay with what he saw in my lifetime?
“I know that’s some n**** bull**** sometimes. But when I see you, I don’t see that.
“I saw you when I was 12 years old. I saw you fighting Wilfred Benitez. But I was locked up. What was that in ’79? [Leonard agreed, yes].
“So, I’m locked up in juvenile [detention]. I’m watching the fight. You’re fighting a master, and nobody was saying anything.
“He was the champion of the world at 17. Not amateur, professional. Now he’s 21, fighting you. I can’t even talk.”
Leonard again shows Mike love before Tyson says: “No, you inspired me so f***ing much, n****.
“Then I saw you fight Duran. It changed my life. I thought, ‘This is what I’m going to be!’
“You might not think you’re nobody, n**** I love you. You changed my life because you’re so beautiful. And you don’t even understand, man. You’re immortal to me.
“I’m in love with fighting. This is what fighting did for me,” he added, pointing to the studio and surroundings. This is my s***. You’re on my show, n****. I worship you.”
A brief chat on the beauty of mastering a knockout punch led Tyson to what will become one of his most famous quotes.
“I’m a f***ing student of war,” he pointed out. “I know all the warriors, from Charlemagne to Achilles. The number one warrior of all warriors – and then Alexander and Napoleon. I know them all.
Tough guy persona
“I read about them all. I’ve studied them all. I know the art of fighting. I know the art of war. That’s all I ever studied.
“That’s why I’m so feared. But that’s why they feared me when I was in the ring. I was an annihilator. It’s all I was born for.
“Now those days are gone. It’s empty. I’m nothing. I’m working on the art of humbleness.
“That’s why I’m crying because I’m no longer that person, and I miss him.
“Because sometimes I feel like a b***h. I don’t want that person to come out because hell is coming with him if he comes out.”
Eden, obviously taken aback by what he heard, gave a nervous smirk – before Tyson stated: “And it’s not funny at all. I sound cool like I’m a tough guy, but I hate that guy. I’m scared of him.
Leonard then attempted to give Mike more time to get together and spoke about his regrets from his wild days.
“I’ve become a better father, a better husband, and a better friend. Life indeed is what you make it.”
Tyson apologized for his emotion as the camera switched to show them together.
“I’m sorry, but this is beautiful. He brings this out in me.”