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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  1. #1 by emilia loft uk on April 2, 2011 - 8:03 am

    hello MIKE good step racing pigenos MIKE TYSON BEST IN BOKS END IN RACE PIGENOS
    IN 2011 BEST RACE LOOK IN MY WEB http://www.emilialoft.mojahodowla.net

    EMILIA LOFT UK seb 02/04/11

  2. #2 by Roger Richards on March 9, 2011 - 9:37 am

    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. #3 by Warren Le May on February 20, 2011 - 11:15 pm

    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. #4 by neon on January 13, 2011 - 8:17 am

    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. #5 by Glen Comeau on November 16, 2010 - 9:22 am

    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. #6 by carlos on November 3, 2010 - 7:59 pm

    can someone tell me went the show is going to air fly like mike

  7. #7 by Sammy Small on November 2, 2010 - 10:03 am

    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.

  8. #8 by PigeonRacingFan on October 31, 2010 - 9:59 am

    craig daniels :

    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.

    Hey Craig,
    Thats deffinetly iron mike


  9. #9 by craig daniels on October 31, 2010 - 12:25 am

    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.

  10. #10 by manuel fenton on October 30, 2010 - 10:18 pm

    hi mick love the birds . i live in ireland and fly tippers in the ntu i love pigeons and would love 2 talk 2 y dont u drop me a mail, i am a good friend of harry shannon and fly his birds crossed with potts good luck with ur birds manny.

  11. #11 by Christopher Adam Trella on October 30, 2010 - 7:39 pm

    I was wondering if anyone can tell me about the “Pigeon Pullman” I’ve seen the truck around before,older, yellow, with Fred Flintstone on the door.How’s about some pics & stories about the men & women who take ’em out to the race?

  12. #12 by Christopher Adam Trella on October 30, 2010 - 7:36 pm

    Mike’s a tippler-roller guy who grew up with pigeons pretty much all his life. Think it’s great he’s still enjoying them!

  13. #13 by Bob B on October 30, 2010 - 7:26 am

    I was surprised to hear that Tyson was a pigeon racer but good on him anwyay.

  14. #14 by Ahmad Siddiq on October 29, 2010 - 2:14 pm

    Its a novel idea coming from Mike Tyson. I await the outcome of this concept. As many of the participants are alluding, I hope that the road show would attract new fanciers to the sport. I wish him all the success. Ahmad Siddiq

  15. #15 by LAWRENCE GENTILE on October 29, 2010 - 11:58 am


  16. #16 by Trevor john on October 29, 2010 - 10:13 am

    With all the mean things Mike has done, it’s good to see that our feather friends can show the other side of him.I agree he may not be the ideal person, like Micheal Landon (Marathon in the Sky).But lets look at the facts our sport is in decline in most parts of the world. If his show can promote the sport in a positive manner and bring a few into this great sport of ours i would consider it a sucess.


  17. #17 by John Black on October 29, 2010 - 9:49 am

    I hope all the best to Mike and our great sport. To all you negative asses you will have to eat your e-mail crap after the showings.

  18. #18 by No Sweat on October 29, 2010 - 6:35 am

    Maybe he can give them some of those same steroids he uses and win a race. He’d be better off representing bulls or tigers. The animal people better watch what they say about him or they may go home earless.

  19. #19 by Morne on October 29, 2010 - 6:12 am

    Mean people do also have soft spots in their hearts- even Mike.

  20. #20 by ron thorn on October 29, 2010 - 12:40 am

    Ihope he gets as much enjoyment out of his birds as i have.This is my first year at pigeon racing and i love it.I have won 6 races and 3 combines.Sometimes it is the simple things in life that bring you the most enjoyment.I know it is for me sometimes you just have to slow down.Good luck racing!!!!!

  21. #21 by mads on October 28, 2010 - 10:51 pm

    you know im so dam tired of these animal right activists what they should do is check out how these birds are taken care of instead of talking about something they dont know a dam thing about go see some fanciers learn before they talk see how well these birds are taken care of what this show mite do to the sport is awake more people aware of these athelets and their performance you know i still run into people that i guess have been hiding under a rock most of their life and dont know that these birds do what they do unbeliveable!!!!!!!good for you mike!!!

  22. #22 by PigeonRacingFan on October 28, 2010 - 10:02 pm

    Yea, I deffinetly agree that the animal rights groups are going to have a field day with it 😦


  23. #23 by Tom Barnhart on October 28, 2010 - 9:17 pm

    I think Iron Mike is going to be greatly disappointed when he finds out the real truth about all the losses we experience in this sport, and I think the animal rights wackos will run with it. Bad idea.

  24. #24 by Bob Schaefer on October 28, 2010 - 8:46 pm

    this sport has been tainted by wise guys and though’s here in america, him representing the sport is not what the sport is about, its a dignifed and skilled sport thats been the sports of Pesants and kings a linke, his poor public image makes the sport look bad like its for new-wits and morons. Mohamid Ali he is not.

  25. #25 by Ricardo on October 28, 2010 - 8:08 pm

    All the best success to Mike Tyson and Animal Planet with this project. I only hope they educate the general public about this wonderful sport and its history.

  26. #26 by PigeonRacingFan on October 28, 2010 - 8:06 pm

    No Sweat :

    At least he can’t bite their ears off.
    No Sweat

    LOL! I knew someone was going to say that.
    -Chris 🙂

  27. #27 by Jjose Rodriguez on October 28, 2010 - 8:05 pm

    you go mr tyson tech them what racing pigeons are all abut. they are not just pigeons they are part of our families

  28. #28 by No Sweat on October 28, 2010 - 7:43 pm

    At least he can’t bite their ears off.
    No Sweat

  29. #29 by cristov dumitru on October 28, 2010 - 7:15 pm

    mike tyson the best.

    • #30 by cristov dumitru on October 28, 2010 - 7:19 pm

      Mike Tyson the best…i love pigeons…

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