New York – Mike Tyson says he is close to dying after years of alcohol and drug abuse.
The former world heavyweight boxing champion told a press conference he was an addict and wanted forgiveness for the many “bad things” he had done.
“I wanna live a sober life, I don’t wanna die,” he said. “I’m on the verge of dying, because I’m a vicious alcoholic.
“I’m a bad guy sometimes. I did a lot of bad things, and I want to be forgiven, I hope they can forgive me.”
The 47-year-old appeared to shock even himself with the extent of his revelations at the press conference to discuss his return to boxing as a promoter.
He said that despite help from Alcoholics Anonymous, he was struggling to stay off drink and drugs.
“If I don’t do what the book tells me to do, I’m going to die and that’s just what is going to happen,” he said.
He claimed it was a “miracle” he had not taken any drugs or alcohol in the six days before Friday night’s press conference.
“I’ve been lying to everybody that thinks I was sober, but I’m not. This is my sixth day. I’m never gonna use again.”
Tyson, who claims to be virtually penniless, has been in and out of rehab at least three times and has a string of drug convictions.
But he had given the impression he was winning the battle, claiming last year he had been sober for three years. Once almost invincible in the ring, where he was known for his aggression and brutal punching, Tyson was convicted in 1992 of raping 18-year-old Desiree Washington and served three years in prison.
He retired in 2006 – three years after he was declared bankrupt.
Tyson has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and claims that around five years ago he was considering suicide.
“I was overdosing every night. I couldn’t believe it – that I was waking up,” he said. He received a wake-up call, he said, when his four-year-old daughter Exodus died at his home in 2009.
She had strangled herself in a cord hanging from an exercise treadmill. “I had to change my life. It’s been hell but I’m happy to be alive,” he said.
Tyson linked his battle to stay sober with his need to make up with Teddy Atlas, his former trainer who he fell out with in the early 1980s.
“Life is short, man. I made amends with everybody,” he told his interviewer, sports television presenter Todd Grisham.
“And I just owe that to my sobriety to make amends. And that’s just what I want to do with everybody.”
Atlas, who was at the extraordinary press conference, split with Tyson after saying the boxer approached a young girl, a relative of his wife, in a crude manner. Tyson, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, said it had been a struggle to prepare himself for the encounter on Friday.
“I didn’t have a good thought in my mind about it at first because I’m negative and I’m dark,” he said.
“And I wanna do bad stuff. I wanna hang out in this neighbourhood alone,” he added, pointing to his head.
Atlas said Tyson came up to him and stuck out his hand, asking: “You’re still not mad at me, are you”. Atlas said he gave Tyson credit “for showing a gentleman’s side”.
Tyson, who has two children with his third wife, Lakiha Spicer, successfully defended his world title nine times and beat Britain’s Frank Bruno twice during his 20-year career.
He has seven surviving children. – Daily Mail