Mike Tyson and His New Reality Series. Sensational Review. Best of 2011

Fly away home

Last Updated: 10:55 AM, March 3, 2011

Posted: 12:07 AM, March 3, 2011

The best new reality series of 2011 is not on Bravo, MTV, TLC or any of the broadcast networks. The best new reality show of the year is on — drum roll! — Animal Planet. And it stars a person.
Taking on Tyson” is only a six-part series, but, in that limited time, this heartwarming, gorgeously filmed show reveals a terrifying man who has not just grown up, but grown into someone you now might want to know.
The show centers on 44-year-old Mike Tyson’s obsession with pigeons and how he learns to race them. The ex-champ, who’s had birds since he was in grade school, goes back to the Brownsville neighborhood in Brooklyn, where he grew up.
He says that even during the darkest, most violent times of his life, he was always able to find a “home” when he was with his birds.
But he never had homing pigeons before — birds that will race hundreds of miles to get back to the coop where they were born.
If you didn’t grow up in Jersey or one of the five boroughs, you may think that homing pigeons stopped being useful during WWI. Wrong.
The subculture of competitive bird racing is a revelation.
In this really good, very beautiful series (who knew that pigeons flying from rooftops could make Hoboken look as majestic as the Serengeti?), the newest edition of Tyson — a guy who has spent the last five years getting clean, finding religion and finding himself through therapy — is introduced.
The Tyson shell looks the same, but the moving parts inside are all new, it seems.
Tyson talks about growing up as a neglected kid in severe poverty, how he was bullied and picked on but didn’t actually throw a punch until a tough gang-banger ripped off one of his pigeons, killed it and smeared young Tyson with the blood.
By 12, he was in a juvenile detention center convicted of home invasions and burglary, which he says he did to pay for his birds and upkeep on his pigeon coop.
“The first love of my life was the pigeon. I feel ridiculous even saying it,” Tyson admits.
This is not just a show about redemption, it’s also a show about these wondrous birds and how the middle-aged Tyson is again training with a legendary trainer — this time a pigeon trainer, Vinnie Torre. Together with Tyson’s friends Mario Costa and Junie and Rickie Roman, they form Team Tyson.
Can these amateurs beat the greats in the field with their as-yet-untrained homing pigeons? Can Tyson become a champ in this field? Tyson believes he will be the next world champion of pigeon racing.
Stay tuned. I sure will. The photography alone is worth it.

  Copyright. 2011. The New York Post. All Rights Reserved


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