Tyson visited Moscow in 1988 to participate in the opening of the first in USSR golf club and meet with boxing fansGetty Images
In Tyson’s recent trip to Russia at the end of February, which was organized by a local industrial enterprise, the former professional boxer visited the Ural region. He had a busy and sometimes surprising program, visiting a kindergarten where he made pictures with the children, took part in a ceremony marking the start of construction on a new sports center, tried virtual reality equipment in a ring, and had a boxing master class with youth.
While doing all this, he shared his views on Russia and Russians and how they are perceived in the U.S. “In America, Russians do not have a reputation for being sensitive. But as I have traveled all over the country of Russia I have realized that the people are very sensitive and kind. But most Americans do not have any experience of that,” Tyson said.
Fans ask for autographs during a master class by Mike Tyson in the city of YekaterinburgDonat Sorokin/TASS
Earlier last year, he completed the description of the sensitive essence of the Russian mentality with a warning: one should be very careful not to hurt their feelings, or otherwise they will lose their temper (in Russian).
The boxer reminded his hosts that he is also fond of Russian history. In the city of
The boxer also praised the first Russian tsar, Ivan the Terrible, an important reformer but more noted as a brutal and bellicose ruler. “I very often recall the times when Russia was pressed from all sides, and it was only due to Ivan the Terrible that the aggressors were kicked out of the country,” he said.
Iron Mike also appreciates Russian literature, especially Leo Tolstoy, who is a “cool pal,” and everybody should read him (in Russian). Tyson read Tolstoy’s books while serving his three-year prison sentence in the early 1990s after he was found guilty of the rape of a beauty pageant contestant.
In almost 20 years after his first visit in Moscow Tyson was told by the Muscovites that he “should be either a politician or a preacher”Getty Images
As he wrote in his book, Undisputed Truth (2013
Back in 2005 Tyson described Moscow as “New York on steroids,” and Russia as a country where he could do anything he wanted “with impunity.” In Undisputed
In the end, however, Tyson came to the conclusion that Russia “was no place” for him. “In
Tyson’s initial reason for his Moscow visit in 2005 was to meet his therapist who worked in the Russian capital several months a year. As he recalled, he was truly moved during one session with the therapist, when participants shared their uneasy personal life stories. Tyson told them about his childhood: violence, issues with his mother and constant fear. Those present were touched by the boxer’s account and responsive attitude, telling him that he “should be either a politician or a preacher.”
Tyson was invited to Chechnya by the republic's leader Ramzan KadyrovGetty Images
That was not the only spiritual experience that Tyson had at that time in Russia – there was also a trip to Chechnya. At first, he took the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s offer to come to the predominantly Muslim republic because he was well paid for it. However, it turned out that “this visit was all about spirituality, all about Allah and Islam.”
During his jail term, Tyson had converted to Islam and took the name, Malik Abdul Aziz, which means “King and Servant of the Almighty.” “I was hailed to the whole country [as he called Chechen republic] as a Muslim hero. Muslim hero, my ass – I was a raging cokehead,” wrote Tyson later, referring to his long-term drug addiction. Yet, he stayed in contact with the Chechen
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