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Mike Tyson now looking to make his mark with boxing promotion

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports
Nevada Boxing Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony
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LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 10: Former boxer and inductee Mike Tyson arrives at the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame inaugural induction gala at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino on August 10, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight champion who only five years ago was a desperate drug addict who considered taking his own life, has become a business conglomerate with so many projects that he is busier than he was at his peak as a boxer.

On Friday, Tyson's latest venture, Iron Mike Productions, will kick off with a boxing card at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y., that will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. The main event features an IBF super bantamweight title fight between champion Argenis Mendez and challenger Arash Usmanee.

His day is filled with meetings, interviews, photo shoots and so many other obligations that he literally wouldn't have time to get into trouble, even if he wanted to do so.

"Man," Tyson told Yahoo! Sports with a sigh, "it's crazy. Crazy. I'm glad I have someone to tell me where I am supposed to be next."

In addition to promoting his fight, he's the subject of an upcoming six-part documentary series on his life, "Being: Mike Tyson," that will air first on Fox and later on the new cable channel, Fox Sports 1. He'll resume his one-man show, "Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth," in the fall, traveling the world explaining his rise, fall and renaissance.

[Related: Mike Tyson plays 'Punch-Out' for first time]

He's written his memoir, "Undisputed Truth," that will be released in November. He's got a hand in dozens of other projects, all of which help to pay off what his wife, Kiki, told HBO's Real Sports earlier this year are millions in debt to the Internal Revenue Service.

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Tyson railed at his former promoter, Don King. In 1998, he sued King for stealing $200 million from him, and settled in 2004 for $14 million.

On the conference call, Tyson said all he learned from King was how to steal from his fighters.

"If I learned something [from King], it was how to manipulate my fighters and take advantage of them and tell them lies, tell them I love them and that the white man hates them and that we're [expletive] together, we're brothers together and everybody is against us," Tyson said.

Tyson and King were inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame together on Aug. 10 in Las Vegas, and got along well. They embraced on the red carpet and Tyson spoke kindly of King during his induction speech. But Tyson traced a lot of his issues back to King and said that stealing his fighters' money would leave them feeling the way he did after his dealings with King had ended.

"At the end of the day, I can have their money in my pocket and they'd be walking the streets feeling sorry for themselves and attempt suicide and use cocaine and overdose, just like I did," Tyson said. "But like I said before, I forgave him, and whatever I did to him, I hope he forgives me. I don't have any hard feelings toward him."

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Mike Tyson and Don King during the glory days in 1986. (AP Photo)

Tyson told Yahoo! Sports, "I'm everybody's friend," but being friends with anyone is a long way from where he was in 2008 and '09, when he said he was "a full-blown addict" and harbored thoughts of suicide. His depression reached a crescendo on May 26, 2009, when his 4-year-old daughter, Exodus, was tragically killed when she was strangled by a cord while playing on a treadmill.

Losing a child is the worst nightmare for any parent, and it hit Tyson hard. But it, and his marriage to Kiki 11 days later, ultimately helped to save him.

"I just wanted to live a different life," Tyson said. "I'm still struggling. Living life remains very difficult."

To his credit, though, he's made a dramatic turn.

The 47-year-old Mike Tyson of 2013 bears little resemblance to the cocaine-snorting, confused man who fought Kevin McBride in 2005 just to cover his debts.

He showed by his demeanor in that fight that he'd had enough and no longer wanted to compete. At one point in the fight, he'd put an arm bar on McBride in an obvious attempt to be disqualified.

He retired after losing to McBride, the type of fighter he'd routinely destroyed in a round or two during his heyday, but had no plan for life after boxing.

He was adrift and increased his drug usage. He was on a quick path to destruction.

It got so bad by 2008 that he was shocked on a daily basis when he would awaken in the morning.

"I was planning to kill myself," he said. "I was just going full-blown [overdosing on drugs] every night. I was like, 'Arrrgh!' "

He's clean now, he insists, and no longer is overcome with dark thoughts. For this, he credits his wife, who encouraged him to take on many of the projects he's involved in and to speak candidly about his life.

Tyson said he is so buried in debt that he believes he'll never get out from under his mountain of bills. But the man who earned, and subsequently lost, $300 million in purses in the ring, said softly, "I don't want to be wealthy again. I just want to pay my bills and live my life in peace."

He's not attempting to replicate anyone else in the promotional business, and said that while he has ambitious dreams for Iron Mike Productions, he can only be certain of one thing.

He wants, he said, to produce world champions and put on exciting fights. He said he'd even be interested in training fighters, but said most of them don't have the discipline it takes to become successful.

There will be, he said, only one certainty in his company.

"I can't tell people how to spend their money or how to live their lives, but at the end of the day, there is never going to be a fighter who says, 'Mike Tyson done me wrong and stole my money,' " he told Yahoo! Sports. "The most important thing to me is that at the end of the day, they get what they signed up to get."

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