Mike Tyson was “ready to die.”
The former heavyweight champion boxer says he suffered for years from depression and other mental health issues, which led him to take opiates and other medications and drugs that made him want “to do nothing but watch marathons of ‘Law & Order’ and eat food. ”
“I gained almost 100 pounds,” he told MassLive — and that was after years of fierce fighting, almost two decades of smoking cigarettes and “drinking everything and partying every day.”
But the 55-year-old Tyson — who greeted dozens of fans and signed autographs Thursday at Boston’s Ascend Cannabis dispensary — tells MassLive that two things helped save his life: his wife, Kiki, and psychedelics.
“My wife started getting me up, moving me around, getting some life in me,” he said. “And I started doing psychedelics and I became a believer.”
Now Tyson, whose Tyson 2.0 cannabis brand is partnering with Ascend, says he’s more at peace, thinking more clearly, and has solid relationships with his children, family and friends.
“I’m making time for those kids,” he said. “Me and my kids have a relationship now. I’m so happy. I don’t want to go back to the dark side. I want to keep in the light.”
Tyson’s brand — his second jab at the cannabis business — kicked off last year and is partnered one of the US’s largest cultivators and manufacturers, Columbia Care Inc., according to Forbes. Tyson said he enjoys his company’s cannabis flower products and psychedelic gummies, in particular.
Ascend says its partnership with Tyson 2.0 will bring three new cannabis strains to Ascend’s Massachusetts retail spots, in Boston and Newton.
Mike Conway, vice president of retail for the East Coast at Ascend, said the company was excited to partner with “Iron Mike.”
“When you look at what he’s doing for cannabis, he’s really working to destigmatize,” Conway told MassLive. “He really believes in the plant, really believes in the properties of helping people, and that’s similar to us, so we’re really aligned.”
Ascend’s Boston location opened up in 2021.
“We love being here at North Station,” Conway added. “We’re hoping to bring more of a retail feel to cannabis … destigmatizing cannabis in general and having something so close to TD Garden and downtown Boston is really helping to do that.”
Tyson said he’s “more of a fan” than a fighter now, and he isn’t too nostalgic for the old days. He noted he “sucked” at the “Punch-Out!!” video games released when he dominated the ring, and said there’s nobody he’d still like to fight if he had the chance.
“I fought everybody I could,” he said.
Another project that keeps him busy is a podcast with millions of listeners, Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson, where he converses with boxers, athletes, artists, comedians and celebrities — often as he and guests “test” his brand’s products. Comedian Kevin Hart appeared on the show Wednesday.
Tyson expressed pride in the podcast’s success, saying it’s “more awesome than I ever dreamed.”
Asked about the state of boxing, Tyson didn’t single out any favorite current fighters, describing it as an unprecedented time when “there are so many great fighters” in the same era.
The problem, he said, is even with many great fighters, great fights are hard to come by.
“They have to fight each other,” he said, smiling and shaking his head. “Promotional things, somebody might not want to fight. It’s just ridiculous.”