Mike Tyson admitted he was scared when he joined Discovery’s Shark Week for Tyson vs. Jaws: Rumble on the Reef. Tyson was asked to join a team of scientists on a dive in the Bahamas where he would need to wrangle a shark and coax it into a sleep-like state, known as tonic immobility, so a scientist could attach a camera to the shark’s dorsal fin.
“This is something that I’m doing from an egotistical perspective,” Tyson said. “It connects with everything I think about myself. That I’m the most ferocious, the meanest, the baddest animal that breathes air.”
There was a process to getting Tyson comfortable enough around sharks to wrangle one, and that was anything but smooth sailing. The first step had Tyson in a cage in the water with sharks. Even then, Tyson was questioning his decision.
“What am I doing?” Tyson asked himself as dozens of sharks swam nearby. “What the f**k am I doing?” Tyson later added, “I’m stupid to do this. F**k this. I can’t do this s**t.” Asked how he was feeling, Tyson replied, “I’m scared to death.”
The next round of preparation had Tyson outside the cage, though he was cloaked in chainmail armor. He was given a small pipe to ward off any sharks that came too close for comfort, but Tyson turned out to be the aggressor and was told he had to relax and not lunge at the passing sharks.
Then, before the final dive, Tyson’s fear manifested in a physical reaction as he vomited on the boat while getting ready. But when the time came, Tyson did exactly as he was taught. The scientists were looking to attach the camera to a certain shark they’d photographed on an earlier dive. As their oxygen tanks were getting low, Tyson caught the shark by the snout and coaxed it into tonic immobility just long enough to get the camera attached.
“I didn’t really experience fear until I came to the Bahamas. I was really scared. I was apprehensive about even doing this stuff,” Tyson said. “But I was disciplined enough to go through the process and I overcame that. This experience is really worth it. Just overcoming that fear in general, making death irrelevant, it’s pretty liberating.”
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