Mike Tyson talked about the “miracle” that he is still alive today.
Tyson was speaking at the Cannes Film Festival, where the movie 'Tyson' is showing in the Un Certain Regarde category, which highlights innovative works.
The “dark, intimate, violent” film, told from the boxer’s perspective, reflects Tyson’s earliest memories and his present dilemmas.
It covers questions of race and class while focusing on the controversial boxing figure and uses archive fight footage.
Tyson was asked about why he felt it was a miracle he was alive.
He told the press conference: “I’ve lived a wild and a strange life.
“I’ve used drugs, I’ve had physical altercations with dangerous people...
“I’ve slept with guys’ wives they wanted to kill me. I’m just happy to be here. It’s just a miracle. I feel good about being here with you.”
Tyson, who said he had always been a harsh critic of himself, said he never considered himself as a role model of any sort.
Asked what message he would give to the new generation, he said: “People put you down in life... never give in to anything.”
Tyson said he had no idea what he was doing in Cannes.
He said he was shocked at the reaction to the film.
Tyson said: “I had no idea I was going to make it to this grand scale here.
“I’m totally overwhelmed.”
He said he got a little embarrassed because he felt vulnerable.
Tyson said he felt “pretty well, I’m doing ok”.
Tyson told how film maker James Toback gave him a call about making a documentary.
Tyson said: “I was in rehab anyway. I wasn’t going anywhere.”
He said Toback convinced him and “I believed it was going to be a decent project”.
Toback said: “I think that Mike and I have had a lot of intimate and unusual conversations over the years and I felt many of them would have made very interesting documents, sort of dramatic revelations of psyche – my own for that matter as well as his.”
Toback said his mother had recently died and with Tyson in rehab, he thought it was time to make a truthful exploration of his fascinating and complicated life.
Toback said that while Tyson thought it could be a case of making a DVD to sell on the street corner, “my idea was it would be in competition and win the Palme d’Or.
“So we were coming from different places.”
Asked why he did not use other people discussing the boxer, Toback replied: “What was really interesting was not what people had to say about Mike but to see into Mike to look at his face, listen to his voice...
“Ultimately the truth is who gives a f*** what Teddy Atlas has to say about Mike Tyson?
“Or for that matter who cares what any number of people who have written about him or talked about him have to say?
“It’s an opinion.”
He agreed with one journalist that the subject matter was an American hero under dark circumstances.
Toback said: “I have been obsessed with boxing since I was four or five years old.”
Asked why he chose Tyson, Toback said: “There is an iconographic (sic) status that Mike has achieved and in fact had almost from the beginning.”
Comparing Tyson’s mystique to the likes of Marlon Brando, Marlene Dietrich and Orson Welles, he said Tyson became the iconic representative of his profession.
He added: “Muhammad Ali as a personality, as an entertainer, yes but to me, as a boxer, as a fighter it’s Mike Tyson.”