Mike Tyson has shown his softer side by staging a TV appeal for a young boy in need of a bone marrow transplant. One of the former boxer's close friends is father to an eight-year-old boy with aplastic anaemia, a potentially-fatal condition in which bone marrow fails to properly replenish blood cells.
The youngster is in desperate need of a transplant and Tyson used an appearance on "Larry King Live" on Thursday, December 2 to urge potential donors to come forward. He says, "He's like my nephew in a way. You know, me and his father, me and his uncle are very tight... They live in Jersey City... I knew his parents before he was born, and we flew pigeons ever since we were all little..."
"What he needs is a bone marrow transplant. Yes, he needs that because he has these horrific fevers that go over 105 every day. And there's no way he could stay home - (he has) to stay in the hospital. He's an awesome little kid..."
"I believe a month ago we had a rally, and we had like 600 people came out, because it's very rare in the African-American and Spanish community that we get any donors... He's a Puerto Rican child... We just hope that somebody's a match."
King then gave viewers a phone number to call if they want to help.
At the same occasion, Mike Tyson admitted he binged on booze "after every fight". Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history when he won the World Boxing Council (WBC) title in 1986 at the age of just 20 and went on to become the most famous boxer on the planet by the late 1980s when he became undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
But his career achievements were later overshadowed by his controversial personal life, including his allegedly abusive marriage to actress Robin Givens and his jail stint for rape in the 1990s. Tyson recently admitted to a raging drug habit, which he only kicked after the death of his daughter last year, and although he is adamant he never took illegal substances during his time as a professional boxer, he admits he was frequently drunk, even at the height of his career.
He tells TV talk show host Larry King, "I've always been addicted. I wasn't using drugs when I was boxing, when I started. But... I never considered alcohol is a drug, too. But I would get drunk after every fight. I said I'm off drugs 14 years but really I wasn't. So that wasn't really true. I was just lying to myself. I would get drunk after every fight, just blasted."