Adopting a plant-based diet and rekindling his passion for putting in the hard yards in the gym has helped Mike Tyson to make a drastic transformation over the last decade.
Boxing legend Tyson has maintained a decent shape for the last 10 years but in recent months has refined himself to the point that he claims this to be the best condition he’s ever been in in his life.
The 53-year-old sent shock waves through the boxing world last month when he revealed plans to fight in an exhibition bout and is now in training ahead of a potential comeback.
He recently posted a video of him whacking the pads in the same ferocious manner as he did in those heady days in the late 1980s.
It almost felt like peering into the past and after the footage had been seen by millions, most were in accordance: ‘Iron Mike’ has still got it.
At 53 his potential return has been met with both caution and zeal; after all it has been 15 years since he last stepped into a prizefighter’s ring – and that ended in him retiring on his stool.
However there are some, who are well-placed, of the opinion that Tyson could even topple the giants in today’s heavyweight division if he was in tip-top condition.
Former six-weight world champion Oscar de la Hoya said: ‘I’m sure that if he trains for 12 rounds, right now he’ll knock out any heavyweight.’
Jeff Fenech, who trained Tyson towards the back end of his controversial and distinguished career, concurred.
‘Boxing’s not the same now. I’d guarantee that if Mike Tyson trained for six weeks, he’d knock Wilder out in a minute,’ Fenech told Sporting News.
‘He would hit them. If these guys are getting knocked out by Tyson Fury – who’s a great fighter, but not a huge puncher – Tyson would kill these guys.
‘They’re not on the same level today.’
Well, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder better hope ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ sticks to just doing exhibition fights, because he certainly looks fighting fit to the untrained eye.
Tyson posed for a picture after wowing fans on the pads with his Muay Thai trainer Rafael Cordeiro and his muscles looked defined and constructed for battle.
Generally, there is little doubt over Tyson’s physical capabilities to fight again, the concerns lie more with the fact that the risk and dangers of the sport increase with age.
The fact it is even being mused by some who should know better indicates how special a fighter Tyson is. If this plan had been hatched 11 years ago though, it wouldn’t have even been entertained.
Tyson may be feeling the best he has for years, but that has only come after hitting the lowest point in his life and his heaviest on the scales.
Out of shape and struggling to keep his age-old fight against drug addiction at bay, Tyson looked almost unrecognizable in a series of public appearances in 2009.
The former heavyweight champion had always come with baggage but this was excess he wasn’t used to.
During the peak of his career, Tyson weighed around 220 lbs. In 2009, he was 380 lbs.
At 27 stone and 5 foot 10, he was clinically obese. Tyson found himself fastened in a dark place as he battled for almost a year to shift the pounds.
But after ditching meat in 2010, he began to turn his life back around. Talking about his decision to turn vegan, Tyson said: ‘I was so congested from all the drugs and bad cocaine, I could hardly breathe.
‘I had high blood pressure, was almost dying and had arthritis. Turning vegan helped me eliminate all those problems in my life.’
During an interview with ABC a few years ago, Tyson stressed how important it was for him to stick to a strict gym routine, which can be challenging when there’s no multi-million dollar fight to motivate you.
‘I was always a fat kid,’ he said. ‘So if I don’t continue to watch my diet and exercise and take care of myself I can really balloon up to a lot of weight.
‘It’s hard as I was used to always training for a fight but I do it to stay in a good place now.’
That 27-stone frame is a far-cry from the lean, mean machine that Tyson is once again today.