Mike Tyson’s affection for pigeons is well documented. The Hangover star and former heavyweight champion loves to talk about his insane pigeon collection, which currently totals around 1,300 birds.
Early in his career, Tyson developed a reputation as a reckless spender, buying lavish items like $7 million worth of diamond necklaces and 150-foot yachts. Never one to shy away from an expense, Tyson also poured a lot of money into pigeon care, spending well over $100,000 to house his birds.
Mike Tyson has spent over $100,000 on pigeon care
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Tyson spoke about the insane price tag on his pigeon palace during an episode of his Hotboxin’ podcast.
“Your house costs as much as 100 grand,” Tyson said.
He now owns more than 1,000 pigeons
Asked how many pigeons he currently owns, Tyson had a hard time committing to a specific number. However, he estimates he owns at least 1,300.
“Maybe 1,400 now, I always say 2,500, but we got rid of so many,” Tyson said. “Probably about 1,300.”
Owning nice pigeons earned him respect in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Many people might find Tyson’s obsession with pigeons odd, but the retired boxer stays true to his passion. According to Tyson, pigeons were a big part of his community’s culture when he was growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
“That was our freedom, that was our ego, that was everything,” Tyson told Tony Robbins. “You had the best pigeons in the neighborhood, and people would come from other neighborhoods and say, ‘Who’s flying up there?’ That is, ‘Whose birds [are]flying up there?’ And you told them, and they could see the birds flying from way over [in]your neighborhood and say, ‘That’s the guy flying over there.’ And that was popular in our neighborhood.”
His first fight was over a pigeon
In a separate interview with Graham Bensinger, Tyson revealed that his first fight was sparked by a kid in his neighborhood ripping the head off one of his pigeons.
“He ripped the bird’s head off, hit me with the bird, spilled the blood on me, slapped me around,” Tyson said. “So my friend said, ‘Mike, fight him. Don’t be scared, fight him.’ … I just fought, it’s not like I was sensational. I was just lashing out, and I think I hit him more than he hit me, so I guess I won.”
Mike Tyson says the world of pigeon racing is unforgiving
As brutal as the display was, Tyson explained on his “Hotboxin'” podcast that violence among competitors is commonplace in the pigeon racing world.
“He wasn’t born evil, but that was just the thing, that’s how disrespectful you are, that’s the pigeon world … That’s the game, that’s the pigeon game, n*gga, the pigeon game is vicious,” Tyson said. “People [have]been shot, thrown off roofs.”