For a guy once nicknamed "The Baddest Man on the Planet," Mike Tyson is disarmingly soft-spoken. Walking past a line of starstruck onlookers, his entourage escorts him into the Green Solution's Union Station location to take care of some important business: lunch. After a quick bite (a bison burger, one of the few meats Tyson indulges in), the former heavyweight champion emerges in a sharp checked suit and size fifteen alligator loafers.
He introduces himself in a gravelly whisper (as if he needs an introduction) and prepares to discuss his latest business venture: Tyson 2.0, his national cannabis brand that launched in Colorado
dispensaries in November. We talked with Iron Mike about vegan munchies, psychedelic medicine, and how Tupac's death propelled him into the world of cannabis.
Westword: How long have you been a cannabis consumer?
Most of my life, and then I stopped when I was eighteen...from 1985 to 1998. Then I started smoking.
What got you back into it?
I think I was depressed about Tupac, or something, and I went to one of his posthumous events. And there I started smoking.
Why did you want to get into the business side?
Now, that’s different. I was shooting a movie for a particular producer, and I believe he was in the business, and he wanted to get into the business with me, so we got into the business, and we started off with Tyson Ranch. The business didn’t work out together between me and that partner, so we went to Tyson 2.0. It was a no-brainer; that was why I got involved the first time. I’ve gained so much success since I’ve been part of Tyson 2.0. We just opened up in sixteen states, and the sky is the limit as far as Tyson 2.0 is concerned.
What’s been the most surprising or interesting thing you’ve learned in the process of building Tyson 2.0?
That you have to have the best quality. We have the best quality, we have the best taste, and we are the apex of the future of flower in the cannabis game.
I know you like the flower itself, so what’s your favorite way of smoking: joints, blunts or glass?
Joints or blunts.
What’s your favorite strain from the Tyson 2.0 line?
There are so many I like, but I love the Sweet Diesel and the Sonoran Toad.
I know you're big on healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle, so when you have the munchies after smoking, what do you eat?
Mostly rice and beans. Could be an Impossible burger. Could be some bison.
Are you still vegan?
No. I eat very little meat; probably like 2 percent of my food is meat.
What's your favorite vegan dish?
I think it would be refried beans or hummus.
You met Chad Bronstein, the CEO of Tyson 2.0, when you invested in his psychedelic health-care company, Wesana. Would you ever consider expanding Tyson 2.0 to include psychedelic medicine?
Absolutely — that's the plan.
Oh, really? Is it just a matter of it becoming legal?
Mike Tyson arrives at the Green Solution in style.
Well, in some places, it is legal. They can't stop the hurricane. It's coming strong. It can't be stopped. It's God's medicine.
There's such a stigma around cannabis and psychedelic medicine,
especially for athletes.
Not with athletes — only the organizations that pretty much control the athletes.
What made you be willing to try psychedelic medicine?
It was a bet. It was a bet, and they really tricked me. Because if I would've seen somebody take it before I took it, I would've never taken it.
And what was it that you took?
I took the Sonoran Toad, and it changed my whole life. That's why I'm here doing this. I'm the face of it now. I did psychedelics. and now I'm the face of psychedelics.
How do you think you can get more people to be willing to try things like cannabis and psychedelic medicine?
Well if you've seen Hotboxin'
, my show, it's me challenging people and having people challenge themselves. You go to another level of life that they've never tried before, and that's dying. By taking the Sonoran toad, a part of you dies, which is your ego. That's the most frightening but most enlightening moment of your life, when you experience the toad.
Who has been your favorite guest that you've had on the podcast?
Listen, I've had the who's who and all that. There's so many different ones. Kamaru
[Usman] was good. Tony Robbins
was good. I've had quite a few good ones.
Do you still raise birds?
All my life. That's what I do. Wherever I live, I have them. They're called rolling pigeons.
Yes. Every now and then we catch a hawk trying to eat my birds and we hold him for a pet.
Last question: Do you think you'll ever get back in the ring?
God willing. I feel great. I train every day.
Editor's note: According to Tyson 2.0, only four states currently have Tyson 2.0 products available for sale, with more expected to follow.