Wearing pink makes Mike Tyson want to fight

GQ: What kinds of clothes make you feel powerful?

Tyson: Pink has a lot to do with it. If I’m wearing pink I’m not going to have an expression like you want to talk to me. Because when I have pink, I am very serious. Pink makes me very masculine.

Puglisi: Belissimo!


Tyson: I almost feel like fighting in these clothes. These clothes make me want to fight a bit.

Courtesy of Roberto Cavalli.

GQ: Do you do a lot of shopping?

Tyson: When I have time to do it! [Laughs.] But I am not a healthy buyer. I’m a guy, I could buy something ten years ago and never wear it.

I have a Versace Marilyn Monroe James Dean shirt [from the designer’s legendary Spring 1991 Pop Art collection]. I must have worn it five times in twenty years. I used to have all these glass shirts with glass beads and things – $ 50,000 shirts, $ 70,000. [Gianni Versace] made me feel so masculine and strong.

GQ: Can you tell me about the experience of making the film?


Tyson: I was having fun with that, because I was kinda lustful, grabbing my crotch and stuff. I had a good time! Everything was done with pleasure.

Puglisi: It was great because he knew exactly what to do. I told him, I don’t want you to act, I want you to be Mike Tyson. There is something pure about Mike Tyson and I love it. There is something really pure about this champion, and I wanted it to come out.

Someone like Mike Tyson is like Andy Warhol – you can’t tell him what to do. You just need to be a good photographer or director to capture this essence. There was a point where he started to comb his hair, putting his shirt in his underwear. It was so elegant, and so elegant, and it reminded me of Pablo Picasso.

When I saw Mike Tyson I started doing this [he shakes his hands with disbelief]. I had the same effect when I met Jeff Koons at the Met Gala. I have never felt for other artists what I feel for Mike Tyson and Jeff Koons. There is something familiar between Jeff Koons and Mike Tyson.

Tyson: Jeff Koons is the man!

GQ: Wow, that’s great. Can you say more about what they share?

Puglisi: People who really make me feel like when you look at the Colosseum in Rome you feel powerful, but you feel so small. Mike Tyson and Jeff Koons.

Mike Tyson gives me so much excitement. This is America for me: it’s a matter of second chance, third chance. He speaks of curiosity, of mixing cultures. A place like America doesn’t exist anywhere. It is a representation of this possibility of being reborn, reborn, reborn!

GQ: Mike, how does it feel to be described as an icon in these terms?

Tyson: I don’t know. I just know one thing: I want to be in shape more than anyone who wants me to be down. And me refuse be downstairs.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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