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Mike Tyson kisses a pigeon in a promotional photo for his 2011 show Taking on Tyson. - Provided courtesy of Discovery Communications

Mike Tyson gears up for the premiere of his pigeon racing show 'Taking on Tyson'

Get more: Mike Tyson, TV
03/06/2011 by Kristina Lopez

Mike Tyson says he's had a passion for pigeons ever since he was a boy growing up in Brooklyn. The former Boxer's latest venture, an Animal Planet reality show called "Taking on Tyson," documents his fondness for the animal and shows him trying his hand at the pigeon racing world in his old neighborhood haunts over New York and New Jersey.

"People are going to see what they want to see -- they make their own images and perceptions," Tyson said told the Associated Press last fall. "I can't make anybody have an opinion about me. Only thing I can do is treat them the way they'd want to treat me."

Tyson has had an image problem over the years. Though his status as a pop culture icon was cemented last year with a role in the hit comedy film "The Hangover," he has faced multiple criminal and financial problems. He was convicted in 1992 of raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant and served three years in prison. In 2003, he declared bankruptcy and he retired from professional boxing in 2006. In the past four years, Tyson was also arrested on drug and alcohol-related charges.

"Best thing that happened to me was to retire from boxing," tells the wire service. "I just didn't want that no more in my life. It was just too chaotic."

The boxer told ESPN Radio in August that he used money he made off his cameo in "The Hangover" to buy drugs. Tyson also opened up on how the accidental death of his 4-year-old daughter Exodus in May of 2009 helped changed his life for the better.

"Tyson's passion for his pigeons takes my breath away," Animal Planet President Marjorie Kaplan, told the Associated Press. "For years, he has been inspired by these birds. 'Taking on Tyson' peels back new layers of the remarkable persona and deep humanity of Mike Tyson while also showing us a whole world we never knew existed right on the rooftops of New York City."

Tyson says he's making some headway in the pigeon racing world but progress is slow. "Slowly but surely, I'm gaining a name in the business, and I'm very grateful for that as well. It's competitive, but it's all in love," he told the wire service.

He adds, "I just want to entertain," he says. "Whether it's boxing, acting, being a comedic, edgy -- it's what I've been doing my whole life. I just want to entertain people."

Mike Tyson's "Taking on Tyson" premieres on Sunday, March 6 at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet.

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