Content

'Review: 'Taking on Tyson'

3/06/2011 7:01 AM Eastern

Animal Planet brings the world of
boxing and pigeons together in its new original
series Taking on Tyson.

The series neatly intersperses former heavyweight
champion Mike Tyson’s fascination with
pigeons with a retrospective of his tumultuous
boxing career. Tyson fight fans will see plenty
of images and video of mighty Mike’s ring conquests
and losses throughout the premiere episode,
along with stories about how his love for
pigeons and
his boxing
career have
overlapped.

Early on,
Tyson discusses
how
his first
street fight
as a teen
came about
as a result
of a local
bully terrorizing
his pigeons.
Later, he recalls spending days after his
2002 loss to Lennox Lewis recovering in his
New Jersey pigeon coop.

The rest of the show introduces the viewer
to the world of pigeon racing and the unique
and colorful characters that race the birds for
a living.

While Tyson commands attention and respect
in the ring, he’s relegated to rookie status
as he learns the ropes on how to train a
pigeon, which is a lot more involved than one
may think.

Tyson is seen hauling huge bags of pigeon
feed and cleaning up pigeon droppings as
he and his “team” — pigeon handlers Mario
Costa and Junie and Rickie Roman — indoctrinate
their racing birds to a well-kept rooftop
bird sanctuary that they hope the pigeons will
instinctively return to once the actual competition
begins.

Animal Planet does a good job in building up
to Tyson’s first experience racing the winged
animals as he sits impatiently on a rooftop
while pigeons, trained by his “coach,” Vinnie
Torre, make a 150-mile journey from Pennsylvania
back to their homes.

Once the pigeons arrive, Tyson is seen using
a large net to usher the pigeons back into the
coop where a timing device is set off once they
pass through the coop entrance, indicating the
bird’s total travel time.

In future episodes, the audience will be introduced
to Tyson’s competitors, who unabashedly
proclaim themselves as the “heavyweight
champion of pigeon racing” and that Tyson “will
get his ass kicked” during the six-month pigeon
racing campaign.

Tyson fans will gravitate to Taking on Tyson,
if nothing else, to see how the controversial
ex-boxing champ adapts to his new life outside
the ring.

June