Former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson claims his rough upbringing led him to have murderous thoughts as a youth, admitting in a candid UK TV interview to shooting at people while growing up in the New York gang culture.
Long considered one of boxing’s most controversial figures, Tyson courted scandal both inside and out of the ring during a professional career which saw him become the youngest man to ever claim a heavyweight title before a conviction for rape saw him imprisoned in the prime of his career.
However, as much as Tyson’s mistakes have come to define him, he credits boxing as saving him from further serious crimes as a young man in New York in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
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Speaking to Piers Morgan on UK television’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ about the rise in knife crime statistics in some of England’s major cities, Tyson said young people are attracted to crime when they don’t see any future for themselves.
“They don’t believe there’s any hope in life. If they believed there was hope for a better life then they wouldn’t conduct themselves in that way,” he said.
“The only reason I conducted myself… I didn’t believe there was hope for a better life and then I started boxing and saw hope. Other than that, I thought about killing people, peoples lives didn’t mean anything and all that stuff too.
There were 39,818 knife crime offences in England and Wales in the 12 months prior to September 2018, with 42 of 44 police forces recording a rise in knife crime since 2011. Since 2010, police numbers have dropped in the UK by 20,000 though Prime Minister Theresa May insists that there is no correlation between this and the rise in knife offences during that time.
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Per Tyson, the people susceptible to becoming involved in crimes such as this are often the most vulnerable.
“I was the same way as these kids,” he explains. “I used to be in gangs, I used to have guns, I used to shoot at people, I used to be shot at and all that stuff. I don’t want to live my life like that any more.”