former heavyweight champion and professional boxer
- I'm just a dark guy from a den of iniquity. A dark shadowy figure from the bowels of iniquity. I wish I could be Mike who gets an endorsement deal. But you can't make a lie and a truth go together. This country wasn't built on moral fiber. This country was built on rape, slavery, murder, degradation and affiliation with crime.
- As quoted in Telegraph (2002).
- "I’m too stigmatized in this country, I want to do something that will have a tangible effect on people. I live in a world where I’m not too media-friendly, I would never be successful in this country." 
- "Everybody has plans until they get hit." (October 1987)
- Often quoted as "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
- Sometimes misattributed to Joe Louis.
- "Being a champion opens lots of doors—I'd like to get a real estate license, maybe sell insurance." 
- "Am I a born boxer? No—if I was, I'd be perfect." 
- To a reporter in 2002: "It's interesting that you put me in the league with those illustrious fighters [Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Jack Johnson], but I've proved since my career I've surpassed them as far my popularity. I'm the biggest fighter in the history of the sport. If you don't believe it, check the cash register." 
- "I still can’t believe [ Muhammad Ali ] knows my name. It astounds me he knows who I am. I first met Ali in 1976. I was locked up in a juvenile home and he came to visit. I’ve never forgotten it." 
- Reported by Joyce Carol Oates in 1986 (published in 1987): "'It's a lonely sport,' Mike Tyson, who is surrounded by people who love him, says." 
- In a 2005 post-fight interview Tyson described boxing as "the hurt business." 
- "Every shot was thrown with bad intentions."  This has often also been quoted as, "Every punch was thrown with bad intentions."
- 1987: "I could have knocked him out in the third round but I wanted to do it slowly, so he would remember this night for a long time." 
- 1988: "I just have this thing inside me that wants to eat and conquer. Maybe it's egotistical, but I have it in me. I don't want to be a tycoon. I just want to conquer people and their souls." 
- 1990: "It's nothing personal, but I'm going to kill this guy." 
- 2005: “I just don’t have the guts for it anymore. I don’t want to disgrace the sport. This is a great sport. It can take men from humble beginnings and have them rub shoulders with royalty.” 
- "My career has been over since 1990." 
- "Then I came out of jail and beat guys because they were basically scared." 
- "I don't have the desire to hurt anyone anymore. I see a fly, but I don't have the nerve to get up and kill it." 
- "I don't have the stomach for this anymore. I don't have anything to fight for anymore." 
- "I just don't have the desire no more, I don't have the stomach to do it no more. I don't even kill insects in my house. I just don't kill anything no more. I used to kill pigeons, rip their heads off, 'You dirty rat pigeon!' I don't even have the heart to kill an animal no more. I just changed my whole life in general. That probably could have changed the way I fight." 
- "This is a weird feeling in my life I have to deal with, not being a violent man anymore when my whole life's reputation was built on being extremely violent. I just don't know how to deal with that right now. I don't even go to strip clubs no more. I don't know who I am sometimes, but I am not the guy I used to be. I'm not an angel or anything. I'm still lascivious, periodically. I'm just looking for some balance in my life." 
- "I don't know that person anymore, that guy in '86, '87. I don't know that guy no more. I don't have no affinity for that guy no more. I have no affinity for the guy who said, 'I am the greatest fighter God produced.' I have no affinity for the guy who said he would try to push his [opponent's] nose bone up into his brain. I just don't know that guy. I don't know who he is. I don't know where he came from. I don't have no kind of connection with him no more." 
- After his final fight: "I felt like I was 120 years old. I feel like Rip Van Winkle right now." 
- On Muhammad Ali: "No man like him. There just isn't, everything that we have, he supersedes us, even our arrogance and our ego...I'd say from a boxing perspective, Ali is a fucking animal. He looks more like a model than a fighter, but what he is, he's like a tyrannosaurus rex with a pretty face. He's just mean and evil, and he'll take you to deep water and drown you. He's very special, the best in the world." 
- The spirit makes you a great fighter not drugs or anything ... the smartest fighter, the fighter that's more determined, the fighter that's dedicated, the fighter that wants it the most.. you have to have the desire to hurt him [to be the best fighter]. 
- We’re really good friends, we go back to ’86, ’87. Most of my successful and best fights were at Trump’s hotels. He didn’t manage me, though. He was just helping me with my court case. We’re the same guy, a thrust for power, a drive for power. Whatever field we’re in, we need power in that field. That’s just who we are. Balls of energy. We’re not even who we think we are. We’re fire. We’re made of this crap—water, motion, dirt, diamonds, emeralds. We’re made out of that stuff, can you believe it?
- That shit is the real deal. Listen: I’m a black motherfucker from the poorest town in the country. I’ve been through a lot in life. And I know him. When I see him, he shakes my hand and respects my family. None of them—Barack, whoever—nobody else does that. They’re gonna be who they are and disregard me, my family. So I’m voting for him. If I can get 20,000 people or more to vote for him, I’m gonna do it.
- "I'm addicted to perfection. Problem with my life is I was always also addicted to chaos. Perfect chaos." 
- "I think I'm a pig. I have this uncanny ability to look at myself in the mirror and say, 'This is a pig. You are a fucking piece of shit.'" 
- "I can talk about humility, but I'm not humble. I mean, if you say, 'I'm humble,' you've just contradicted yourself. But I'm trying to be, man, I'm trying so hard." 
- "I put people in body bags when I'm right." 
- "I have the same malice in my heart as far as the fight game is concerned, but outside the ring, I won't say anything a dignified man won't say." 
- "One morning I woke up and found my favorite pigeon, Julius, had died I was devastated and was gonna use his crate as my stickball bat to honor him. I left the crate on my stoop and went in to get something and I returned to see the sanitation man put the crate into the crusher. I rushed him and caught him flush on the temple with a titanic right hand he was out cold, convulsing on the floor like an infantile retard." 
- "There's no one perfect. … Jimmy Swaggart is a lascivious creature, Mike Tyson is lascivious - but we're not criminally, at least I'm not, criminally lascivious. You know what I mean. I may like to fornicate more than other people - it's just who I am. I sacrifice so much of my life, can I at least get laid? I mean, I been robbed of my most of my money, can I at least get a blowjob without the people wanting to harass me and wanting to throw me in jail?" 
- "Don't be surprised if I behave like a savage. I am a savage." 
- "One minute I'm robbing a dope house. Next minute I'm the youngest heavyweight champion of the world. I'm only 20, 19, with a lot of money. Who am I? What am I? I don't even know who I am. I'm just a dumb child who's being abused and robbed by lawyers. I'm just a dumb pugnacious fool. I'm just a fool who thinks he's someone. Then you tell me I should be responsible." 
- In a 1988 Sports Illustrated interview: "Real freedom is having nothing. I was freer when I didn't have a cent. Do you know what I do sometimes? Put on a ski mask and dress in old clothes, go out on the streets and beg for quarters." 
- "I'm a good friend, but I'm a hell of an enemy. As your enemy, I want your demise. When I feel that in my heart it burns till I die." 
- "My whole life has been a waste - I've been a failure." 
- "One of my friends once saw another guy's (criminal) record and said, 'Look, this guy is a born troublemaker, just a loser.' I had to tell him, 'No, that's my record — and it doesn't include my juvenile history.'" 
- "They would give Jeffrey Dahmer a second chance before they gave me another one." 
- "I probably have a 20,000-word vocabulary. I'll match my wits with anyone on literature, science and the arts." 
- "My intentions were not to fascinate the world with my personality." 
- In a 2004 interview with This Is London, Tyson announces that since declaring bankruptcy he has been sleeping in homeless shelters and living off handouts: "I've got nowhere to live. I've been crashing with friends, literally sleeping in shelters. Unsavoury characters are giving me money and I'm taking it. I need it. The drug dealers, they sympathise with me. They see me as some sort of pathetic character." 
- "When I had money I was an animal. I was so belligerent. I lost all across the board." 
- "My life has been a total waste." 
- "I know I was a tough, bad-ass talking fighter, but I ain't no mob figure. I did my time for the rape. I paid my money to Las Vegas. I paid my dues. I ain't the same person I was when I bit that guy's ear off." 
- "I'll never be happy. I believe I'll die alone. I would want it that way. I've been a loner all my life with my secrets and my pain. I'm really lost, but I'm trying to find myself. I'm really a sad, pathetic case. My whole life has been a waste. I've been a failure. I just want to escape." 
- "I lost my soul as a human being. I lost my self-respect. I'm not a lovable guy, so it's really not hard for people to dislike me." 
- "I've been a prima-donna. I was taken care of since I was 13. That's why I am the way I am today. I was spoiled, like a brat. I had anything I wanted. That's crazy to be that way all your life. Everybody's taking care of you, but manipulating you at the same time. Very few people have a life like that. Most people have to work like slaves their whole lives. I've never had a job in my life. What I know how to do is hurt big, tough men — in the street and off." 
- "People say 'Poor guy.' That insults me. I despise sympathy. So I screwed up. I made some mistakes. 'Poor guy,' like I'm some victim. There's nothing poor about me." 
- "My life's not tragic at all. How many guys do you know who are bankrupt and just bought a $3 million house and are getting ready to get $6 million more?" 
- "I got a imam, I got a rabbi, I got a priest, I got a reverend — I got 'em all. But I don't want to be holier-than-thou. I want to help everybody and still get some (sex)." 
- "People are trying to force me to redeem (myself) — certain women, certain mentors. Nobody's going to change me. I'm going to fight that. You can't change me; you can't tame me. When you say that, I'm going to bite you even harder. I'm more ferocious, more complicated. I'm not going to let anybody win a popularity contest off my conduct. You have to understand. It is a pervasive (belief) that I'm an animal — undomesticated as well. But regardless of the bizarre (stuff) I've done, I'm a very rational individual. But everybody still thinks I'm crazy and stupid because that's what they want to believe." 
- "I’m just trying to change my life because I’m not above killing any drug dealer for money." 
- From the London Times: "Tyson repeated his desire to do missionary work and said he had spoken to a Christian charity about aid work in Bosnia or Rwanda, 'somewhere where people are in dire need.'" 
- "It's such a shallow world I am involved with and I can't take it no more." 
- "I'm not too interested in these swan songs I'm continuing to hear. I'm just Mike. I'm a peasant. I'm here to entertain the people. I'm no elite person. At one stage in my life, I had my little jewelry and all my little girlfriends and my big cars and things. At one point, I thought life was about acquiring things. But as a I get older life is totally about losing everything. As life goes on, we lose more than we acquire. I don't want the finest girl in the world anymore. I'm just trying to stay balanced, basically.
- "I don't do anything. My life sucks." 
- "I didn't know how to be any other way. I felt like one of those barbarian kings just coming to conquer the Roman Empire." 
- "Y'all guys can't define me or define my work as a father, i'm many things i'm many things you know, yeah i'm a convicted rapist, i'm a hell raiser, i'm a father, i'm a loving father, i'm, you know, a semi- good husband, you know what i mean? What? You know i'm just a man out here trying to enjoy my, you know I was born poor I ain't never had nothing I don't know how to act but the real thing is i'm just here to be me. I do'nt care about who anyone things at this stage in my life but yeah, i'm pretty much a tyrant titan. Yeahs thats who I am." 
- "I'm not eloquent or distinguished. You guys won't allow me to ever be that, so just bring it on." 
On his familyEdit
- "Her mother is beautiful, but she [Rayna] is so gorgeous she makes her mother look like a junkyard dog." 
- "If it weren't for that old, Italian white guy, I would've been a bum. Cus D'Amato was a physical person like I am. He was impulsive and impetuous like me. If somebody upset him, he would just go after them — even at 75. God, the psychologists would've had a field day with him." 
- "[Cus D'Amato] told me, 'You're the type of guy who has to be hurt to learn.' I'm pissed off today because he was right about everything." 
- "My father was a pimp before he became a deacon or something. These people know how to handle women. I'm the worst guy in the world with women. They run circles around me." 
- At 20, reflecting on Cus D'Amato: "Cus was my father but he was more than a father. You can have a father and what does it mean?—it doesn't really mean anything. Cus was my backbone . . . . He did everything for my best interest . . . . We'd spend all our time together, talk about things that, later on, would come back to me. Like about character, and courage. Like the hero and the coward: that the hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It's the same thing, fear, but it's what you do with it that matters." 
- "No one gives a fuck about me. No one cares if my children starve, if they're on welfare. I have to support my children. I need more money." 
- "I'm not a good father. I'm a good man with my kids. I'm very generous with them. I'm very kind to them, but I am not a good father." 
- "I'm not going to tell you I am a good father. I have to contribute to the world. I have to teach [my children] how to contribute to the world. That’s our whole existence – to contribute to the world and make it a better place in some way. In my life I contributed to make it a bad place.” 
On his fansEdit
- "When you see me smash somebody's skull, you enjoy it." 
- People love you when you're successful, but if you're not, who really cares about you?
- As quoted in Boxing Monthly.
- "There are nine million people who see me in the ring and hate my guts. Most of them are white. That's OK. Just spell my name right." 
- To a question on whether he feels support from the common fan: "I don't feel love from them because there's no love. They don't know me as an individual; they know me for what I actually do. Because they pay to see me smash anybody. If they're white they pay, [it's] because the only thing they have respect for is my ability as an athlete. But if I was in court and I had to use them to testify against me on my character, they wouldn't testify positively against me and they would think I'm a cad..." 
- In 2002: "I think the average person thinks I'm a fucking nut and I deserve whatever happens to me." 
- "Do you want to talk to me? Or what do you want to do with me? Watch my eating techniques here? How I gorge the chicken? How I eat like a barracuda?" 
- "None of my friends have any respect for me. … No, most of these people thought of me like... some money... ." 
- In 2005: "Most of my fans are too sensitive. I’m a cruel and cold and hard person. I’ve been abused in every way you can imagine. Save your tears. I lost my sensitivity. You embarrass me when you cry." .
- "I'm not used to sensitivity any more. When I see people cry when I lose, save your tears. I don't know how to handle people crying any more. I lost my sensitivity like that. Please, you embarrass me when you cry because I don't know what to do when you cry. I don't know what to say.
- My main objective is to be professional but to kill him.
- I'm the best ever. I'm the most brutal and vicious, and most ruthless champion there's ever been. There's no one can stop me. Lennox is a conqueror? No, I'm Alexander, he's no Alexander. I'm the best ever! There's never been anybody as ruthless! I'm Sonny Liston, I'm Jack Dempsey. There's no one like me. I'm from their cloth. There's no one that can match me. My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I'm just ferocious. I want your heart! I want to eat his children! Praise be to Allah!
- Interview with Jim Gray (2000).
- He was just splendid, a masterful boxer - I take my hat off to him
- "These books ain't window dressing. I think Machiavelli's the most sophisticated writer outside of Shakespeare. Way ahead of his time. Such a manipulative person. Everything he accomplished he did by kissin' ass." 
- "I like the hip writers: Fitzgerald, the guy who committed suicide, Hemingway, all those guys. Some of them were alcoholics and drug addicts but they had fun. They were real people. They formed the culture of American literature. Hemingway admired Tolstoy, Tolstoy admired Pushkin, and Mailer admired Hemingway. It all flows down. The greats are all connected. One day I'm gonna write a book myself. The first chapter will be about what a rough deal my momma got. She believed in you guys and your society." 
On the mediaEdit
- "You guys have written so much bad stuff about me I can't remember the last time I fucked a decent woman. I have to go with strippers and 'ho's' and bitches because you put that image on me." 
- I'm just like you. I enjoy the forbidden fruits in life, too. I think it's un-American not to go out with a woman, not to be with a beautiful woman, not to get my dick sucked … It's just what I said before, everybody in this country is a big fucking liar. [The media] tells people … that this person did this and this person did that and then we find out that were just human and we find out that Michael Jordan cheats on his wife just like everybody else and that we all cheat on our fucking wife in one way or another either emotionally, physically or sexually or one way.
- As quoted in ESPN (2002).
- "You guys would rather be with someone else who's equal to your status in life. Tiger Woods, or somebody. I comes across as crass, a Neanderthal, a babbling idiot sometimes. I like to show you that person. I like that person. He makes you want to come and listen to me." 
- "Most writers, in my opinion, are dysfunctional derelicts." 
- "Sometimes you guys have no pride, so no matter what I say, you guys … it doesn't affect you because you don't care about nothing but money. So every now and then I kick your fucking ass and stomp on you and put some kind of pain and inflict some of the pain on you because you deserve to feel the pain that I feel." 
- "I wish one of you guys had children so I could kick them in the fucking head or stomp on their testicles so you could feel my pain because that's the pain I have waking up every day." 
- "I'm just a sucker even talking to you guys. I should be ready to rip your heads off your necks. But it's just not the right thing to do." 
- "Put your mother in a straight-jacket you punk ass white boy. Come here and tell me that, I'll fuck you in your ass you punk white boy. You faggot. You can't touch me, you're not man enough. I'll eat your asshole alive, you bitch. C'mon anybody in here can't fuck with this. This is the ultimate, man. Fuck you, you ho. Come and say it to my face.... I'll fuck you in the ass in front of everybody. You bitch.... come on, you bitch. You're scared coward, you're not man enough to fuck with me. You can't last two minutes in my world, bitch. Look at you scared now, you ho.... scared like a little white pussy. Scared of the real man. I'll fuck you 'til you love me, faggot!" [After being told by a spectator that he should be put in a straight-jacket]
- I feel like sometimes that I was born, that I'm not meant for this society because everyone here is a fucking hypocrite. Everybody says they believe in God but they don't do God's work. Everybody counteracts what God is really about. If Jesus was here, do you think Jesus would show me any love? Do you think Jesus would love me? I'm a Muslim, but do you think Jesus would love me … I think Jesus would have a drink with me and discuss … why you acting like that? Now, he would be cool. He would talk to me. No Christian ever did that and said in the name of Jesus even … They'd throw me in jail and write bad articles about me and then go to church on Sunday and say Jesus is a wonderful man and he's coming back to save us. But they don't understand that when he comes back, that these crazy greedy capitalistic men are gonna kill him again.
- As quoted in ESPN (2002).
- What I want in a woman is protection. Loyalty. Companionship. Loyalty, friendship, companionship, ferociousness. I want her to protect me, and have my back to the bitter end. If I have a fight, I want her to jump in. Even if I'm winning; even if she's ninety pounds. I like strong women—not necessarily a masculine woman—but I like strong women. I like strong, say a woman who runs a C.E.O. corporation. I like a strong woman with confidence—massive confidence—and then I want to dominate her sexually.
- As stated in documentary film, Tyson.
- If they lock me up, at least I'll have a place to stay.
- As quoted in ESPN.
- "You're smart too late and old too soon." 
- "He was trying to scrutinize with my brain." 
- "I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if I miss a star then I grab a handful of clouds." 
- The act of treachery is an art, but the traitor himself is a piece of shit.
- As quoted in Telegraph.
- On a 2002 column by sportswriter Wallace Matthews: “[He] called me a ‘rapist’ and a ‘recluse.’ I’m not a recluse.” 
- "You can set a good example that you don't have to throw blows or be belligerent to get your point across." 
- ESPN reporter: There were reports, Mike, that you were out partying in Vegas. Is that, in fact, the case? Tyson: This is not true. This is not true at all. Um, one day, I went out one day - because when somebody trains, you just get crazy and bored - and I went to a strip club because I gave a dancer a lap dance. Reporter: You gave HER a lap dance? Tyson: That's just what I like to do. I do what I want to do. 
- On Don King: "I found out that someone I believed was my surrogate father, my brother, my blood figure turns out to be the true Uncle Tom, the true nigger, the true sellout. He did more bad to black fighters than any white promoter ever in the history of boxing." 
- On Sarah Palin: "Sarah Palin met the wombshifter! Old Sarah and the wombshifter." 
- On Floyd Mayweather: "Greatness is not guarding yourself from the people, Greatness is being accepted by the people."