Mike Tyson: Being Molested as a Child Made Him ‘Tough for the World He Lived In’

Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Associated Television International

In a recent ESPN interview, former pugilist Mike Tyson spoke openly about being sexually abused as a young child.

On ESPN’s E:60, Tyson told host Jeremy Schapp that he was grabbed by a man who tried to pull him into a building, but he wouldn’t provide details beyond that.


“Well, I don’t like to talk about that; I like to keep that where it was, in the past, but I was molested as a child,” Tyson said.

When asked the impact that had on his life, he said, “It made me have to be tough for the world I lived in.”

“[P]eople just don’t talk about it because to some people they believe it’s demasculating them,” Tyson said. “I learned that it doesn’t make you any less of a man because it happened.”


Although Tyson said that Schnapp is the first person he told, the New York Daily News reports that in 2014, Tyson discussed the same incident on Opie Radio.

“I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of anything from that perspective,” Tyson said at that time.


He also said he “learned” that what happened didn’t make him less of a man, so perhaps Tyson has worked through some of his childhood trauma in therapy (one can only hope).


Victim-advocacy organization RAINN reports that young people are at the highest risk for sexual violence. Although statistics vary on the actual numbers of those assaulted (it is a universally acknowledged underreported crime), the Bureau of Justice Statistics notes that one-third of all sex assault victims are younger than 12.

Read more at the New York Daily News and RAINN.

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Angela Helm

Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.