Mike Tyson’s Foray into Pigeon Racing

Mike Tyson’s Foray into Pigeon Racing

Behind the Ringside Bar and Lounge on Tonnelle Avenue in Jersey City stands a white, two-story pigeon coop with several spacious rooms. The birds can spend the day touring the city and return at night for a safe, comfortable rest with their fellow travelers.

“They always come back because they get free food, free water, and a free place to sleep. It’s like the Pigeon Hilton on Tonnelle Avenue,” said Mario Costa, owner of the Ringside Bar and Lounge.

The door to the free-standing structure proudly displays the name of this pigeon hotel as, “Tyson’s Corner”. That’s right, the owner of these pigeons and their coop is the former heavyweight boxing champion, Mike Tyson. Tyson and his pigeons will make their first television debut together on Animal Planet in March 2011.

The show, “Taking on Tyson”, will run six episodes with a focus  on the ancient sport of pigeon racing. Tyson and his birds will challenge established and champion racers to non-wagering matches. “I’ve been raising pigeons all my life,” Tyson said. “In fact, this coop is the exact replica of the one I had in Catskill, New York where I trained.” Many pieces of the coop, including the door, were brought to Jersey City by Costa after Tyson’s step-mother, Camille Ewald passed away.

But training the birds to race was new to Tyson, so Costa stepped in to help. “We trained the birds little by little each day. First we would get them to fly two miles and come back, then five, then ten, until they could complete a 300 to 500 mile run like they would in a real race,” Costa said. The trick is to train them before they’re fed in the morning to ensure they will return.

Breeding is the one aspect of pigeon racing that Tyson was already familiar with from his past. “I pair all of the birds together and most of them mate for life. But some of them do cheat,” Tyson joked. “A few birds have eggs in a couple different coops.”

Tyson’s pigeon raising and new racing practices have already drawn criticism from animal activists. PETA president and co-founder, Ingrid Newkirk has called upon the Brooklyn district attorney to stop the show from filming in New York. She said the show “will do viewers and pigeons a terrible disservice…as it will sentence countless birds to a life in a cramped cage and ultimately a bad end,” in a Change.org blog post.

Tyson, as an animal-lover and vegan, was upset. “This birds are given water and food everyday. They are medicated so they don’t get sick and have plenty of space,” he said. “They aren’t mistreated.”

Tyson, Costa and their pigeons will travel across the country during the show to compete in the races. “But we will always come back to Jersey City,” Costa said. “It’s going to be our team’s hometown.”

Mike Tyson’s Foray into Pigeon Racing by Ashley Strain/The Jersey Journal

Pigeon Racing Pigeons | Pigeon Racing Insider

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40 thoughts on “Mike Tyson’s Foray into Pigeon Racing

  1. Asssalaamu Alaikum Bro mikal also know as mike,I have been flying pigeons for 40 years.had them since i knew there names,i have flown in big time races,one for instance the windy city classic in chicago,won big in the race had my share of wins in most of the cludsflew on the southside of chicago,was the first african americam muslim to fly on a professional level.Any man the have a love for pigeons is alright,was hope your show gve more expouser to the sport,and it did as of now i am not actively flying,live in arkanasa,now planning on flying with a club in Texas gusee I ‘l go on down younder and put a spanking onthem there boys Inshallah,but if you need real guideance in the sport you can beat the the best of them in the city,that is what i do mike Is fly pigeons,and win flew in mississippi and won. so peace be unto you and keep flying those great wings of the sky…

    1. Mike Tyson, ive been called a nut because of my love for pigeons and for being a huge fan of yours,some said pigeons are rats wit wings and Mike Tyson is nutty and violent and ive always said both are fales, iv been watchen you since i was 14 and had pigeons since 12 im 36 now, Mike i always new you were a great man who got the shit end of the stick when it came to the media,and i tried to tell others this but was only laghed at well i never stoped beliving in Mike .And took the brunt of peaples jokes because of it,but Mr MIke tyson you changed all that and proved them all wrong,Your show cleared up all the misconseptoins about the pigeons and Mike Tyson.I now get a lil more respect for both my love of piegons and my respect for Mike Tyson. Thank You from the bottom of my heart!

  2. Mike, what you have done here for the sport of Pigeon racing and pigeon fanciers on the whole, is what the ARPU AND THE CRPU SHOULD OF DONE… A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. Should they had thaken this direction,and kept the public @ large educated about what we as Pigeon fanciers do,most, if not all, will not be dewlling in ignorance in re. to Pigeon Racing and Pigeon keeping. For that MONUMENTAL IGNORAMUS…INGRID NEWKIRK, SHE NEEDS TO GET OFF HER HIGH HORSE, AND IF SHE REALLY WANTS A TRUE HIGH …… SHE SHOULD FLY A RACING PIGEON!!!

  3. Hey Mike,
    Looking forward to the show. These people know nothing about keeping birds I give mine the best. I keep them with fresh water and the best of food and vitamins and supplements. When in the loft mine come and gather round I talk to them and whistle tunes to them. My Malamute dog always comes along and watches from outside these are his birds to and is very protective of them.
    Watched a show the other day on your boxing career and training. That guy who did that to your pigeon and your reaction told me how far you went to protect your birds I doubt PETA people would put it on the line for there pets.
    I fly FOR rollers and Donek divers. All the best Warren.

  4. go ahead brother, do what you and us love to do! here in the philippines,we support you with full force!!!PETA doesn’t know anything about our beloved sport!

  5. Mike Your doing a great job and please dont let these critics get to you . Just let it go in one ear and out the other. These people/critics /Peta have no clue eccept what they make up about cramped space, disease, cruelty for sending them to races. its all a crock of crap and they have nothing better to do but bash you and us Racing Pigeon Fanciers. Your Show will surely promote the sport that alot of people have heard about but people dont know much about our sport eccept they have heard of the sport and ask how the racing Pigeons make it home. Your show will open the eyes of the watchers of how interesting and fun and exciting the sport of Racing Pigeons and your show will surely make people look into it further and bring in newbies to our wonderful Sport. Im thrilled you are doing this show as are many other Racing fanciers. Keep up the good work and ide like to Personally thank You for Promoting the Pigeons with your New Show- Yours in the sport- GlenComLofts. PS if you would ever consider this i have Top Champion Pigeons that are Famous world wide and would like to Give you one to try out in the Races. You would surely be on top with one of my Champs. Glen glencomlofts @ yahoo.com

  6. MR. Daniels, please note you are mistaken, it is TYSON. I do know Mr.TYSON personally, and I wish countless others really appreciate the good works and spirit Mike possesses. Mike is not just a pigeon lover but all of nature in general. Yes same as all of us … he does make mistakes and words at their best do escape him from time to time, but what an extraordinary person he is. I have also seen fire and rain as we bumped through the rivers of humanity together, but because he has a good heart,to say the least, many who really know him, do love him, and nothing less.

  7. I don’t think the guy you are showing is mike tyson unless he has changed his tattoo, all the times i seen him it looked like he had like flams back to his ears but i could be wrong.

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