Former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson floored an audience in Birmingham when he revealed he has definitely hung up his gloves for good.
Speculation has been rife in recent months that the legendary fighter who at 19 was the youngest heavyweight champion of the world would one day step into the ring again but that was ruled out last night as the 42-year-old met with fans at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.
Tyson revealed that he has now given up training in the gym and is instead looking to enjoy life. A host of celebrities joined members of the public in forking out up to £225 per head to be at last night’s question and answer session compered by former WBC super-middleweight champion turned trainer Richie Woodhall.
Former British fighter Scott Welch, Birmingham’s own Eddie MacIntosh and one of Tyson’s former opponent’s heavyweight boxer Tony ‘TNT’ Tucker were also in attendance.
Everton striker and former Birmingham City player Andrew Johnson, was also among the hundreds gathered to hear Tyson entertain the crowd with stories of his days in the ring.
Tyson was the youngest ever heavyweight champion of the world and won his first 19 professional bouts by knockout – 12 in the first round. But fans who had expected him to keep up the facade of his fighting days saw a different side now to the boxer, who also revealed he had spent time prior to the event shopping at Birmingham’s Bullring.
Tyson is on a whistle-stop tour of the UK having visited the film festival in Cannes last week to promote a documentary film about his life.
After visiting Doncaster, Manchester and Birmingham he heads off to Glasgow accompanied on the tour by Birmingham's Big Joe Egan, his former sparring partner and a close friend.
Egan, from Erdington, said: “Fans might have wanted to hear Mike plans to fight again but these days all he wants to do is shop!”
Of course, a night with Tyson would not be complete without controversy and some fans were disappointed at the long wait to see their champ take to the stage. There were also scuffles outside among the press photographers after a scheduled press conference was cancelled at the last minute.
For those fans who got to meet the boxing icon however for a photograph before the event there was nothing but delight. Boxing fan Richard Edwards who had travelled from Salford in Manchester said: “There are only two sportsmen in my eyes who are big enough to be known by one name.
“One is Pele and the other is Tyson. It is incredible to think he is now something of a regular visitor to the UK.
“He has had a colourful past but for those of us who grew up watching his fights in the last 1980s he will always be a legend.”