Mike Tyson shares his passion for pigeons in new Animal Planet series

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Energetic vegan and former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson is quite familiar with scaring the bejesus out of opponents in the squared circle but now the legendary pugilist is taking his act to a new venue, rooftops.

Iron Mike won’t be pummeling adversaries with his fists while balancing precariously over the streets of Brooklyn—we hope not anyway—but instead will take on challengers in the high stakes sport of pigeon racing on Animal Planet’s new series Taking on Tyson.

Why pigeon racing? Well apparently the 44-year-old 'baddest man on the planet' has a soft spot for the feathered creatures.

"The first thing I ever loved in my life was a pigeon. I don't know why...I feel ridiculous trying to explain it," says Tyson. "Pigeons are a part of my life. It's a constant with my sanity in a weird way; this is just what I do. If I'm lucky enough to die an old man, I'm going to have birds."

According to Animal Planet:
Heavyweight boxing legend and Brooklyn native Mike Tyson always has loved breeding and raising pigeons. These birds have been an integral part of his life from his childhood. In fact, Mike threw his first punch when a neighborhood bully killed one of his beloved pigeons and threw it in his face. Of course, Mike would go on to be one of the most famous, and infamous, champions in boxing (and sports) history. And through it all, his pigeons and his rooftop pigeon coops remained his one constant and secret solace.

Now, in the new Animal Planet series TAKING ON TYSON debuting March 6, at 10 PM (ET/PT), Mike goes beyond just raising his feathered friends - he will race them for the very first time. With unprecedented access to the neighborhood haunts he grew up in and lifelong friends who surround him, this docudrama introduces audiences to the highly competitive, bizarrely fascinating subculture of pigeon racing. The stakes are high in a sport that has just as much machismo as boxing. But this time it's not about money; it's about bragging rights.

From the rooftops of Jersey City to the streets of Brooklyn, this six-part series profiles enigmatic Mike Tyson as the boxing legend reconnects with his roots and returns to his childhood neighborhood to face his next challenge. Tyson's pigeons have provided him with tranquility and escape throughout his tumultuous life. Now, along with a band of close friends who share his love for these avian athletes, he enters the realm of pigeon racing. TAKING ON TYSON is an enriching window into Mike Tyson's complex life, where the road to self-awareness, the path to inner peace and the vision into the future... is with these birds.

Sounds fascinating but the sport itself doesn't seem to be very animal friendly. Any volunteers want to tell Tyson he should give it up?

Eric Fortney | @elfortney | email
Eric is the co-founder and executive editor of the animal rights and eco-friendly news source, This Dish Is Veg. In addition to his work at TDIV, Eric is a father of three, runner, and lover of the outdoors.

Photo credit: Animal Planet

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