Former world champion Mike Tyson paid Mayor Richard Daley a visit today and the boxing heavyweight and political heavyweight talked about youth violence, among other topics, during a 30-minute private meeting.
Tyson, who was in town for another appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show, said he shared with Daley his unique perspective on the problems of inner city teens.
“Kids need to have vision, they need to have somebody they respect,” said Tyson as he emerged from the mayor’s office. “They respect somebody who’s been through what they’ve been through.”
Tyson, who grew up in rough parts of Brooklyn, came under the care of boxing trainer Cus D’Amato as a teenager, and has credited D’Amato with saving him from a life of crime. He said teenagers today need that same kind of care.
“Just as much energy as they put into doing and selling drugs and killing one another, that same energy can be put into something positive,” Tyson said. “I was one of them. I’m that guy. I’m that guy that probably got shot the other day. I’m probably the guy that shot the guy the other day.I understand. I understand the pain.”
Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard said the mayor met Tyson a few years ago, and the two hit it off. Tyson contacted the mayor’s office to see if he could drop in to say hello while in town for Oprah, Heard said.
The mayor made time to meet with Tyson because the mayor believes Tyson could offer a valuable perspective into ways to solve the problems of violence in the city, Heard said
“The mayor said ‘This is the guy I need to be talking to,’ ” Heard said.
Tyson, who spent three years in prison on a rape charge in the early 1990s, is the subject of a recent documentary and also made a cameo in the hit comedy “The Hangover.” He appeared on Oprah today with Evander Holyfield, a former rival whose right ear Tyson bit a chunk out of during a title fight.