In the 1980s, Mike Tyson owned a luxurious mansion in Southington, Ohio. The world heavyweight champion boxer moved into the 13,500-square-foot mansion to be close to the facility of promoter Don King in nearby Orwell. Tyson, who grew up in poverty, was only 18 when he fought his first professional boxing match; he accrued a vast fortune of $400 million.
By 1988, he was at the top of the boxing world, earning the nickname “Iron Mike” (after the match with Michael Spinks, whom he knocked out in 91 seconds during the first round), and throughout those years he lived in high style, purchasing cars, mansions, and many other things, including a $2 million bathtub.
The Ohio estate included many lavishly decorated rooms with crystal chandeliers; it had five bedrooms, tiger cages (he owned three Bengal tigers, at $70,000 each), a full kitchen and a mini-kitchen, and a pool that was bigger than some houses. On the floors stretched zebra print carpets. The structure was amazing, the rooms were huge, and the light flooding through the windows was astonishing.
The ceilings of the rooms were high and lined with wood, which gave the house a Scandinavian log cabin sort of look.
The Ohio mansion was Tyson’s home until March 26, 1992, when he was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison for sexual assault. Tyson, 25 at the time of the crime, was sent to the Plainfield Correctional Facility (which was then known as the Indiana Youth Center).
He was released three years after his sentence, but four years later, Tyson was convicted again, this time for a traffic accident in 1998. During the aftermath of the traffic accident h, assaulted two motorists and he was sentenced to a year in prison. When he got out, he started to struggle financially and was forced to sell the Ohio mansion.
Tyson filed for bankruptcy in 2003. On the TV talk show The View, Tyson said he was “totally destitute and broke” in 2010.
Tyson’s mansion had been sold already, purchased by the entrepreneur and businessman Paul Monea for a reported amount of $1.3 million, but Monea never lived in the house. He was reportedly under investigation for money laundering. When Monea tried to sell the mansion, he also offered a rare diamond known as the Golden Eye. The asking price for the mansion and the diamond was $20 million. The FBI set up a sting by acting as an agent of a drug lord. Monea was arrested, eventually convicted of conspiracy and money laundering. He is expected to remain in prison until 2018.
On October 22, 2010, the mansion was sold at auction again, this time to Ron Hemelgarn, a health-club entrepreneur, for a mere $600,000. He hired a team to restore parts of the property; the workers removed many of the interior fixtures and fittings. Hemelgarn did not live on the property.
In 2014, Hemelgarn donated the mansion to a fledgling church with less than 200 members, which announced plans to transform the property into the home of the Living Word Sanctuary. Reports differ, with some media outlets saying it was not donated; instead, the church paid for the house and acreage.
The church’s widely reported plan was to create a religious retreat and campus. The pool would be filled in and made into a sanctuary. The basketball court would be used for Bible school trips and picnics for children.
The restoration reportedly began in 2015. In 2016, Nick Dejacimo, who in some interviews is described as the pastor of the church, told a local TV reporter, “Transforming the former House of Tyson into the future home of the Living Word Sanctuary is slow but gratifying work.”
As of February 2017, no church had opened on the property, according to a local videographer.
Meanwhile, in 2013, the HBO documentary Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, directed by Spike Lee, was released to critical acclaim. Tyson is currently a panelist on Superhuman, a Fox TV show in which contestants put their “super human powers,” mostly mental, to the test in order to win $100,000.
On June 17th, Tyson, who has a Twitter account followed by 5.3 million people, tweeted that he would be signing autographs at Las Vegas’s Caesars Palace that afternoon.
“See you soon!” Tyson said in a friendly tweet.