Tyson grateful for life after "wild, strange" past

Sat May 17, 2008 2:45pm EDT
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By James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Heavyweight Mike Tyson, one of the most fearsome and notorious fighters in boxing's history, said on Saturday it was a miracle he was still alive after the drugs and violence of his past.

"I've lived a wild and strange life," Tyson told a news conference at the Cannes film festival to present a documentary on his life by U.S. director James Toback.

"I've used drugs, I've had physical altercations with dangerous people, people were angry. I've slept with guys' wives, they wanted to kill me. I'm just happy to be here. It's just a miracle. I feel good about being here with you," he said.

Selecting from hours of footage and mixing fight sequences with interviews and photographs, Toback tells the story of the boxer's climb from his impoverished New York childhood to the pinnacle of his sport and his dramatic fall.

Like Serbian director Emir Kusturica's documentary on Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona, showing out of competition next week, "Tyson" paints the picture of a charismatic but troubled champion whose image transcended his sport.

"In the course of the film, Tyson moves from someone you might think you'd want to steer well clear of to a man you might actually want to meet and speak with, which is a significant accomplishment," trade paper Variety said in its review.

Tyson himself, his face tattooed and looking significantly heavier in a grey suit than in his sporting prime, strode along the red carpet at the film's opening night to loud applause.

"I had no idea this thing was going to ever make it to this grand scale here," said Tyson, 41. "I feel totally overwhelmed."   Continued...

<p>Former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson poses during a photocall for the documentary film "Tyson" by U.S. director James Toback at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2008. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>