WHO WOULD WIN? When Mike Tyson offered a zookeeper $10,000 to engage in a fight with a silverback gorilla
Mike Tyson, the iconic former heavyweight champion, once made a remarkable proposition to a zookeeper. He reportedly offered the zookeeper a substantial sum of $10,000, hoping to persuade him to allow him to engage in a fight with a silverback gorilla.
This intriguing tale was shared by Tyson himself, who recounted the incident that took place during a day when he had privately rented the entire zoo exclusively for himself and his then-wife, Robin Givens. Despite his bold offer, the zookeeper declined, refusing to entertain the unusual and potentially dangerous request.
Tyson recalled the experience with vivid detail, stating, “I arranged for a zoo employee in New York to open the zoo exclusively for me and Robin. As we approached the gorilla enclosure, we encountered a massive silverback gorilla who was intimidating the other gorillas with its dominance.”
He continued, “Although they possessed immense strength, their eyes conveyed a sense of innocence, resembling those of a young child.”
“In a daring move, I proposed to the zoo attendant that I would pay him $10,000 to unlatch the cage and allow me to engage in a confrontation with the formidable silverback. However, much to my disappointment, he politely declined my offer.”
In the following years, Tyson would fulfill his desire to own and interact with formidable creatures. During the 1990s and 2000s, the former undisputed boxing champion housed several white tigers in his residence for over a decade.
Tyson revealed, “I had three of them living in my house. The circumstances that led to this unique situation unfolded when I was serving time in prison. I had a conversation with a friend who had sold me exotic cars in the past. He mentioned that a mutual acquaintance owed him a significant amount of money.”
Intrigued by the prospect, Tyson continued, “This friend proposed an alternative arrangement—he offered to settle the debt by providing me with three white tigers.”
He recounted the conversation, saying, “He proposed, ‘If he fails to repay me, I’ll seize some of these cars and trade them for animals.’ Intrigued, I inquired about the type of animals he had in mind. He mentioned horses initially, but then he mentioned something even more fascinating—tigers and lions. The idea of owning one of those majestic creatures intrigued me.”
Tyson added, “I expressed my interest, telling him it would indeed be incredible to have a tiger. I suggested, ‘Why don’t you go ahead and order a couple for me? I’ll be out of prison in a couple of months.'”
True to his word, when Tyson was released from prison, he returned home to find two tiger cubs waiting for him.
However, over time, Tyson, who has been dubbed the original ‘Tiger King,’ came to the realization that these animals were not meant to be domesticated. After 14 years of having the tigers in his care, he made the decision to donate them to a sanctuary, acknowledging that it was the right thing to do for the well-being of the animals.
When questioned about a rumor regarding his tiger attacking a neighbor, Tyson clarified the incident, saying, “No, that’s not what happened.”
He explained, “Someone actually trespassed onto my property and jumped into the tiger’s enclosure, initiating interaction with the tiger. The tiger, unfamiliar with the intruder, reacted unfavorably, resulting in a regrettable accident.”
Tyson emphasized, “She unlawfully entered the area where the tiger was kept. Initially, there were attempts to sue me until it was discovered that she had jumped over the fence, essentially trespassing into the tiger’s habitat.”
Tyson continued, “Witnessing the severe injury inflicted on her hand by the tiger, I recognized the gravity of the situation. As I had substantial financial means at the time, I offered her a significant sum, approximately $250,000 or a similar amount, as compensation for her suffering. It was a gesture of compassion, considering the severity of her injuries.”
He concluded, “She was severely harmed, and it was an unfortunate incident.”