Born Again Vegan Mike Tyson Recalls Having Tigers As Pets

The jungle cats were the pet of choice for the king of the ring.

Mike Tyson on a night out.
Christian Petersen / Getty Images

The jungle cats were the pet of choice for the king of the ring.

Meat may not be on the menu these days for born again vegan Mike Tyson but the former heavyweight once shared his life with some of the bloodiest carnivores of them all – Bengal tigers.

In his fighting prime, “Iron” Mike was known in the world of the pugilist as the “king of the beasts” and “lord of the jungle,” so it seemed only fitting that this ferocious champion of the world should have a gang of Bengal tigers for pets as opposed to say a budgie or a well-stocked fish tank.

Tyson, who is also something of a lifelong pigeon fancier, appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast to fondly reminisce about his out-of-control life of excess in his boxing heyday, and the subject of how he famously used to own three white tigers reared its head.

Although he spent a small fortune caring for his beloved big cats, Tyson eventually had to give them up, but how he acquired them in the first place is a bizarre tale.

According to Tyson, he was in prison at the time and talking to his car dealer who was discussing how if somebody didn’t pay for their repossessed cars, he was going to trade them in for some horses.

Tyson, who once owned more than a half dozen Bentleys explained, “I said ‘what, you can get horses? And trade horses in for cars?’ Because I had a lot of cars, I’d probably get some horses, too.”

“And he said ‘yeah man, you can get cougars, lions, tigers…’ I said ‘you do?! Can you get me some tigers?'”

And the rest is history. Tyson fell in love with the image of driving an Aston Martin or Ferrari with a tiger sitting in his passenger seat, and so he went out and got three jungle cats.

Of course, now he’s a clean-living vegan and it’s doubtful that Tyson would do something so detrimental to animal welfare as supporting the trade in illegal animals.

The man who once bit a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear now swears by a plant-based diet.

Mike Tyson holding his arms out.
  Ethan Mille / Getty Images

Tyson credits the vegan lifestyle as helping him with his arthritis and shedding the pounds. And even though he was a rampant carnivore during his boxing days, Tyson told Live Kindly that he may have been just as successful in the ring had he been adhering to a meat and dairy free diet.

Tyson explained, “The greatest gladiators, the greatest ones in Roman times, they were all vegan. That’s fighting to the death!”

It may at first seem like a mad man’s boast but the Archeological Institute of America has verified Tyson’s claims after studying the bone marrow of some of the most famous Roman gladiators and finding no meat particles in them.