Thursday, October 22

Tiger King: Why Mike Tyson regrets his past owning exotic animals

With big cats back in the news thanks to the runaway success of Netflix documentary Tiger King, legendary heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has admitted that he regrets his history of owning exotic animals.

Netflix’s seven-part documentary series has provided a welcome distraction to those in lockdown during the global coronavirus pandemic, quickly becoming the source of an endless number of memes on social media.

The documentary charts the demise of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as ‘Joe Exotic’, the eponymous ‘Tiger King’ currently serving a federal prison sentence on two counts of murder for hire.

Tyson, 53, is among those to have seen the documentary and has admitted that he was “wrong” for keeping two tigers at his Las Vegas mansion years ago.

“I was foolish,” said Tyson, on an Instagram Live with Fat Joe.

Mike Tyson playing with his pet tiger, in 1996

“There’s no way you can domesticate these cats 100 percent. No way that’s going to happen. They’ll kill you by accident, especially when you’re playing rough with them, you’re punching them back. They get hyped up, hit you back and you’re dead.

“I’m just happy I educated myself. I was doing the wrong shit. I shouldn’t have had them in my house, believing they were domesticated. I was wrong.”

Tyson added that he came into possession of the two cubs while serving a prison sentence, and that he was won round to the idea of owning two tigers because they would look “cool” sitting in his Ferrari supercar.

“I was talking to one of my friends who I bought cars from, and he was saying one of my friends owed him money,” Tyson said.

“He said, ‘If he doesn’t pay, I’m going to take some of these cars and trade them in for animals,’ and I said, ‘What kind of animals?’ He said, ‘Horses and stuff.’ And he said, ‘They have some nice tigers and lions, too. If you got one of those, that would be cool in your Ferrari.’

Tyson cuddles his tiger

“I said, ‘That’s true. Why don’t you order me a couple and I’ll be getting out in a couple months.’

“So, when I got out, I came home and I had two cubs.”