During the wee hours of Friday, Terminal 2 of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport was left buzzing after it was revealed that former world heavyweight boxing champion was scheduled to touchdown in India for the first time.
A large group of fans had swamped the airport to catch a glimpse of the legendary American boxer. And finally, the baddest man on the planet had finally arrived in the country, and the excitement of his fans knew no bounds.
His sheer presence had drawn a crowd of fans, who circled the boxing champ by flashing their cameras and reveling chants of 'Tyson! Tyson!'. To ensure a smooth exit to his car, Mike Tyson had to be escorted by Salman Khan's bodyguard Shera, who helped him wrestle his way through the crowd.
Almost 12 hours later, Mike Tyson's arrival was marked by a packed press conference to announce the launch of India's first MMA competition, the Kumite 1 League. The K1 League is the first MMA league of its kind, wherein players will represent their countries in a team format.
He might have arrived at the press conference a few hours later than the scheduled time, but no one present at the huge media gathering complained, because it was Mike Tyson after all.
On his trip to the subcontinent for the first time, Mike Tyson spoke of his delight at the launch of the K1 League, he said: “I think the Kumite 1 League format is awesome. 'Fighting for your country gives it much more incentive.''
While Tyson is in the country for the first time, he reveals the itinerary of his trip. During his visit, apart from the customary tourist visit of the Taj Mahal, the former boxing champ has expressed his desire to visit the slums of Dharavi.
This comes as no surprise from the American, who's journey to the pinnace of boxing started from his rough upbringing in the slums of Brooklyn, New York. During his sojour of his Indian visit, he underlines that the best boxers come out of the slums.
“I am a slumdog, I grew up on the streets of New York. My ambition was to get out of it, and that’s why I’m here today talking to you. They might still call it ‘slum,’ but I still go back there to see my friends.”
On his first visit to India, the boxer was also excited to be a part of this first of its kind MMA league, where the top fighters will lock horns with each other. “I am very excited to be here. This is my first time in India. This is something I never dreamed of before. I am a big fan of MMA. I go to UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) in Las Vegas all the time,” he added.
When asked about the opportunity to make it big in the UFC during the prime of his career, he said: '' I don’t know. They don’t pay a lot of money in MMA … I would not have worked without money,” which lead to crowd gathered to burst into laughter.
Mike Tyson, who at the age of 22 became the world's heavyweight boxing champion, and went on to become the king of the boxing ring with 50 wins to his name. When he asked about why the current crop of boxers don't capture the imagination of sports enthusiast like they did in Tyson's era. The boxer who was once considered the most feared men during his time, insisted that the present-day boxer are more straightforward, and not wild like the boxers of his time were.
''Its just different because they are not the big personalities “Now they are all straight guys and I was a young kid going wild, always getting into trouble. I was always in the papers. The new guys are all focused on boxing. The difference is they are not personalities. These guys are straight gentlemen.”
While the India-Bangladesh Asia Cup 2018 final played on the television sets of a packed media room, Mike was asked if he followed cricket. “I know cricket. I know you hit the ball with a stick. It’s a bit like baseball in a way,” he concluded.