Taking the next crucial step in his gradual career rehabilitation, Mike Tyson will star in his own reality show for Animal Planet, Taking On Tyson, in which the former heavyweight boxing champion and convicted rapist shares his lifelong love of racing pigeons—or “mens’ [sic] first feathered friends,” as Tyson puts it, the sort of friends who don’t judge a man for being dangerously self-destructive or rapey—and remakes himself as a gentle, face-tattooed giant, who just happens to be mentally unstable and have difficulty relating to humans the way he does to birds. Premiering on March 6, the show will follow Tyson as he returns to his old Brooklyn neighborhood and trains pigeons for competition (hopefully by shouting inspirational maxims at them), but it’s also a look into Tyson’s “colorful past,” as he says, adding, “We go to some places in the past which are a pretty dark place for me.”
A self-defined “dark place” for Mike Tyson is objectively terrifying, considering, but anyone who’s seen James Toback’s Tyson already knows about his past as a shy adolescent whose violent streak was sparked when a neighborhood bully killed one of his pigeons in front of him, leading him to win his first fight, then use that memory as inspiration for every match after that, perhaps by imagining that every opponent was out to take his pigeons away. Of course, now Tyson’s got an all-new enemy out to stop him from enjoying his hobby, one he can’t just punch in the face: PETA, who protested the show when it was first announced back in July, saying it amounted to animal cruelty while also predicting that it would lead to a pigeon-collecting craze similar to the “101 Dalmatians syndrome,” where people would be so inspired by Mike Tyson’s example they would then begin casually acquiring their own pigeons as pets. Yeah, we wouldn’t worry so much about that last part.
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