Mike Tyson Said He’s ‘Haunted By Obesity’ For 1 Sad Reason — ‘I Actually Starve Myself To Lose Weight’

In his prime, Mike Tyson was one of the most intimidating athletes to walk the planet. Stocky yet muscular, Tyson had hardly any fat on his body when he entered the ring and took on heavyweights such as Evander Holyfield and Mitch Green.

However, once Tyson’s boxing career ended he wasn’t spending as much time in the gym and his weight ballooned drastically. At one point he weighed as much as 380 pounds, far more than his fighting weight of about 240 pounds. 

It wasn’t until Tyson met his current wife that he became more aware of his dietary habits. She introduced him to veganism and helped him lose a ton of weight, although he admits that he’s still haunted by obesity for a very sad reason. 

Mike Tyson only cared about his health early in his career

Mike Tyson speaks onstage during the "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truths" panel discussion
Mike Tyson speaks onstage during the “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truths” panel discussion | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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Prior to his exhibition match with Roy Jones Jr. in late 2020, Tyson looked back on an interview he did with Interview Magazine in 1990 and amended some of his original responses. One of them, in particular, was about his health.

“I have pride,” Tyson said in 1990. “I mean, I have a lot of pride, you know, which is bullsh*t, I think. Pride is a lot of bullsh*t. I think about where I was at one particular time. And I look at what I have—I have a mansion here [in Ohio] and I have a mansion in New Jersey; I have a place in Las Vegas. And I have tons of cars, everything. Not that it means anything. It means absolutely nothing, really, what you have. The only thing that really matters is your health. Everything else I have is in addition.”

He’s haunted by obesity because it’s caused deadly health problems for his family members

In 2020, Tyson noted that his life had been devastated by his family’s collective poor health, and that he still fears the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle. 

“At 24, my whole life had been wrecked by health,” Tyson said. “My mother had bad health. My father had bad health. My sister died of bad health. My whole life has been a battle with obesity. That’s why when I gain a lot of weight, it bothers me, so I go on a strict diet. I actually starve myself to lose weight because I’m haunted by obesity. It has really wrecked my life. It’s killed many of the people I love.”

He’s embraced a vegan diet to combat obesity

Years after his 1990 interview, Tyson became more conscious of his eating habits. In a separate interview with ABC in 2013, he revealed that his own health problems encouraged him to make a change. 

“I was real carnivilous [sic] when I was training for fights – a lot of meat, cheese, bread. I devoured everything besides pork. I used to eat a lot. As I got older I didn’t like the way I was feeling. I had a lot of arthritis, joint problems and I was morbidly obeast [sic].”

Tyson also admitted that his current wife was the one who truly inspired him to become more intentional about his diet. 

“My wife who was not my wife at the time, she changes her diet all the time. I says, ‘what is this you’re doing?’ And she says, ‘I’m eating vegan for a month or two weeks.’ Well, I said that’s what I’m going to do too, I want to do that. Cause I was just eating things without even figuring out what they are.”