ON 5/25/21 AT 8:00 PM EDT BY DAN CANCIAN
The controversial interview in which Mike Tyson’s ex-wife, Robin Givens, accused her former husband of domestic violence while he sat next to her on live television will be featured extensively in the first episode of a new documentary on the former world heavyweight champion.
On Tuesday, May 25 at 8 p.m. ET, ABC will air Mike Tyson: The Knockout, a four-hour, two-part documentary about the boxing star.
Tyson’s journey from a tormented boy who spent time in a juvenile detention centre to one of the greatest heavyweights in history is chronicled in the series, which also delves into his myriad troubles beyond the ring, including Tyson’s troubled marriage with Givens, which is featured heavily in the first episode.
Tyson and Givens married in February 1988, however their union was short-lived, since they divorced almost a year later. Seven months into their marriage, the couple went on national television to discuss their problems with Barbara Walters of ABC’s 20/20.
Givens, who appeared in ABC’s sitcom Head of the Class, described being married to the world’s heavyweight champion as “pain, utter torment, worse than anything I could possibly fathom” with Tyson at her side.
Givens stated Tyson had a “very explosive temper,” that he had major mental disorders, and that he had hit her in the interview.
“Every three months or so, I think people see that [Tyson’s fury],” she remarked.
“He has a frightening side to him.”
“He trembles. He is a pushover. He swings his arms. I’m not sure if he’s attempting to scare me or not.”
When Walters asked Givens how she felt about claims that Tyson had pursued her and her mother, Ruth Roper, during a trip to Russia, Givens said:
“There have been times when I believed I could handle it, and then there have been occasions when I’ve been scared. I’m afraid, I’m afraid, I’m terrified. In Russia, for example, I was terrified. Michael is a schizophrenic.”
Tyson was diagnosed with manic illness a week before his appearance on 20/20, according to the New York Post. According to the newspaper, the boxer agreed to therapy after speaking with his wife and mother-in-law.
During the ABC interview, Givens added, “I don’t know what Mike Tyson would be without my mother.” “That’s what we’d be.” She’s been the glue that’s held everything together.
Despite the domestic violence charges, Givens claimed she was terrified Tyson would spiral out of control if she asked for a divorce, which she did just a month after the interview aired.
“He’d be alone […] and that’s something I don’t want to happen,” she explained.
“I believe he would have gotten so awful that one day he would have been more purposeful and killed himself or injured someone else.”
Tyson, who had only three months earlier successfully defended his WBA (World Boxing Association), WBC (World Boxing Council), and IBF (International Boxing Federation) championships for the fourth time, sat next to Givens and listened closely without once interjecting, making the already awkward encounter much more odd.
Shortly after, he reportedly erupted in a fit of wrath, throwing a chair against the wall.
Tyson responded to Walters’ question on the prospect of a divorce by saying:
“All my wife has to do is ask for it, and she has every penny I own.”
“She has the right to go right now […] take whatever I own and leave.” She has the legal authority to do so. She has the authority to do so.”
Tyson described his behaviour during the original interview to Walters during a special appearance on ABC’s The View in 2010.
“I was a young lad [Tyson was 22 in 1988] when I was Shanghai-ed in the moment,” he says. “I was simply bushwhacking there,” he replied, implying that he was on medicine at the time of the interview.