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Mike Tyson: Fight or Flight

Your first fight was over a bird?
Yeah. I was just a kid, and this guy stole one of my birds and killed it. Ripped his head off, threw the blood on me. And I started fightin’ with him. But pigeons helped me focus, kept me off the streets.  

Your new show is about the world of competitive pigeon breeding. What’s the appeal?
It’s like horse racing. Once it’s in your blood, you can’t help it. All the royal families, from King Richard to the queen of England, raised pigeons. I have friends from Afghanistan who have had birds in their family for 800 years. People say they’re rats with wings, but pigeons are fighters!

We take it you’re an animal lover—in The Hangover your tiger was kidnapped.
I had six tigers, a mountain lion, a hawk, an eagle, a ferret, a giant snapping turtle. But I have children now, so I need to be particular. I can’t have any lions.

Any movies in the works?
Yeah! I’m going to Thailand to film The Hangover 2. And I have a role in Men in Black 3—I’m gonna be an alien. I’m ecstatic. Aliens are aliens, but whatever kind of alien they make me, I’ll escalate it and make it an even more spectacular alien.

Ever think you’d be acting in comedies?
I used to take myself too seriously. If anybody laughed at me, the guy was going to the hospital. Now I think it’s cool. It’s not bad laughing at yourself. You have ups and downs, so enjoy
as much as possible. Life’s too short.

Taking on Tyson premieres March 6 at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet.