A star is born
Michael Gerard Tyson was born on July 30, 1966 to parents Lorna Tyson and Jimmy Kirkpatrick. Unfortunately, his father abandoned the family when Tyson was just two years old, leaving his mother to care for him and his two siblings. The family was financially burdened and, as a result, lived in a high crime neighborhood. Tyson was bullied for his lisp and was forced to defend himself by using street fighting. Given the circumstances Tyson had early on in life, he was constantly lead to trouble and petty crime.
From trouble to the ring
By the age of 13, Tyson already had several arrests, which landed him in a reformed school. This is where Tyson met amateur boxing champion Bob Stewart who went on to train Tyson in everything he knew about the sport. Stewart had one condition, though: Tyson had to work harder in school and stay out of trouble. He introduced Tyson to Constantine D’Amato who, not only became his mentor and guardian, but planned a match in which Tyson broke the heavyweight championship record before his 21st birthday.
The multiple boxing titles and rise to fame came with a big fortune and, of course, a life of luxury and extravagant parties is not complete without a mansion. In 1989, Tyson purchased a 19,500 square foot home in Southington, Ohio, which cost $300,000 at the time. This lifestyle, however, was very short lived. Three years later, Tyson’s career suffered its own knockout blow when he was found guilty and handed a six-year jail term for the intimate assault of Miss Black Rhode Island pageant winner Desiree Washington.
After serving three years in jail, Tyson was released early in 1995 and he had big plans to rebuild his career and reputation with a strong comeback. Unfortunately, this was not such a great success after his infamous ear-biting incident during a 1997 rematch with Evander Holyfield. Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear in such a vicious way that a piece of it was left lying on the floor of the ring. This incident led to Tyson’s disqualification and was one of the biggest contributing factors to his crumbling career.
The second comeback
With Tyson’s humiliating defeat and having his boxing license suspended, he still had the ambition of a true boxer. His number one aim was to revive his career and he therefore decided to get back into the ring in 1999. Unfortunately, Tyson quickly found himself broiled in controversy again – being jailed again for physically assaulting motorists after a fender bender the year before. Tyson’s life began to change in drastic ways and he had to make some serious decisions about his housing situation as well.
Long gone were his days of extravagant living and luxurious parties. With all his legal troubles and the impending end of his career, Tyson decided to sell the mansion that he paid $300,000 for to a well-known entrepreneur, Paul Monea, for a staggering $1 million. Paul was successful himself, having made his fortune from marketing various fitness programs, and he too had some run-ins with the law. After being convicted of money laundering, Monea was sentenced to 13 years in prison and the mansion was back on the market again.
New proud owner
Another fitness guru and entrepreneur, Ron Hemelgarn, purchased the house back in 2010 for $600,000 less than what Paul Monea had paid. It was then donated – as part of a tax write off – to the Living Word Sanctuary Church. With only $50,000 in administration fees, the church had found itself a swanky new home – a huge upgrade from their previous operations at the local YMCA. The building had not undergone maintenance for a few years, but the organization was glad to have a place to call it’s own.
Even after the lack of maintenance and having stood empty for years, the mansion itself was still the perfect scene for amazing images. In 2015, the church granted a photographer from Ohio permission to capture the empty spaces within the building. Johnny Joo was given access to the home and he caught a glimpse of the rich and famous way of life Mike Tyson used to have. Joo was able to experience the ritzy lifestyle and what it must have been like living in such a flamboyant setting.
The entranceway to the mansion boasts a massive wooden double door that was carved with intricate design and care. First impressions count so it’s no wonder Tyson had opted for a beautiful entry point for his VIP guests. The marble floor and stone arch is the perfect setting for anyone to start their tour of the mansion. The emptiness does leave an eerie feeling, however, and the imagination cannot help but run wild while trying to guess some of the A-list names that have entered through these doors.
Tyson, being known for his love of tigers, had his carpets intricately decorated with tiger prints. He housed four real-life wildcats, all of whom were kept in cages on his property. His admiration for tigers can be seen in a few scenes of the hit comedy movie The Hangover. Tyson really did have a home fit for a celebrity. The huge space, the sophistication, gold finishes, and the design portrays the real legacy that was left behind.
Apart from the house itself, the entrance is enough to have made an impressive statement. With its huge double wrought-iron gates that proudly flaunt Tyson’s name, it was designed to keep curious fans and intruders out. While his indoor swimming pool may look unkempt, one can imagine just how amazing it used to be. Surrounded by thick wooden frames and a massive indoor area bigger than the average home, Tyson entertained his friends and family in a beautiful setting that provided A-list entertainment, a perfect place for a world-renowned parties.
Ease it off
There’s also a bathroom that is a work of art with a view that is fit for a king. It’s surrounded by panoramic windows that show off the magnificent view outside, while being pampered in a spacious jacuzzi with all the added extras. This magical black marbled spa gives a glimpse into Tyson’s private life. While the room itself has been vandalized by intruders, it’s still easy to see the elegance in the infrastructure that once housed the boxing legend.
The articulate designs continue onto the second level of the house where there’s another beautifully designed bathroom with a bidet and toilet with gold fittings. Moving into the private master bedroom provides yet another glimpse into the luxurious area that once was; high-mirrored ceilings and sufficient space that made way for all the wild parties he hosted. Even though there is no furniture, decor, or art hanging on the walls anymore, the room itself is enough to spark the imagination.
Out with the old, in with the new
While the mansion has many aesthetically pleasing features – which most would agree depict the epitome of the rich and the famous – a facelift was desperately needed, especially since the mansion had been standing vacant for almost ten years before it was donated to the Living Word Sanctuary Church. The wear and tear was inevitable and nature had taken its course. Once Pastor Nicholas DeJacimo took over, they started transforming the mansion from a place that once held pristine affairs, into a place fit for holy praise and worship.
Work in progress
The church managed to get volunteers and workers to give back to the community by helping to trim the overrun trees and cut the long overgrown grass across the 60-acre property. The exterior of the mansion was given a fresh coat of paint and the basketball court a complete overhaul for the youth ministry to use. The tiger cages that were once home to Tyson’s beloved pets were disassembled to make way for a brand new pavilion.
Making a splash
The indoor pool is soon to be the focus of the church’s transformation. A social meeting place that once was the cherry on top of all parties will soon be the worship group’s sanctuary. The church has future plans to create a space where fellow worshipers can gather and where baptisms will take place. Complete with a stage, pews, and pulpit for the preachers. The church also has plans to create a scenic waterfall in lieu of a fireplace.
The second floor, where Tyson’s former sleeping quarters can be found, will be renovated into conference meeting rooms and office spaces complete with a gymnasium to keep the community fit, healthy, and active. The four-car garage that used to house Tyson’s automobiles – which we can only imagine were top of the range luxury vehicles – will be converted into a nursery and classrooms that the youth of the community will be able to use for studying.
The church has a very different idea for Tyson’s master bedroom. There are rumors of wild parties that once took place in this room, but the master suite will be converted into a chamber that has a much more wholesome purpose. The church has plans to turn the suite into a suitable place where a bride can get ready before the wedding ceremony, complete with a sitting area and a place to keep wedding gowns.
Hard work pays off
After years of being left to collect dust and with many helping hands, dedication and hard work, the mansions doors are set to open once again in December 2018. This time it won’t be a building that host VIP events, but rather a new home of worship, a new chapter for the community. The church has extended an invitation for Tyson himself to attend the grand opening, but he converted to Islam while in prison so no one knows if he will visit his previous home for a Christian celebration.
A new beginning
Even though a life of crime, legal issues, and money troubles caught up with Tyson, there is a happy ending. The church has a new place of worship and all the space it needs for the community to partake in enriching and wholesome activities. Things have turned out okay for Tyson as well: he is retired and now resides with his family in Las Vegas and has made several appearances in hit TV shows, which goes to show that it is never too late to right your wrongs.
What’s Tyson up to now?
As we know, Mike Tyson has not had an easy life and has often turned to crime and excessive substance abuse. He is, however, desperately trying to change his life around. The former professional boxer is now retired, but he is still in the sporting world. He has written a few books and even had a one-man show in Las Vegas that went to Broadway. Tyson is trying to make people remember that, though he has made mistakes, he is not irrelevant.
Tyson has started a charity called Mike Tyson Cares Foundation and the goal is to “give kids a fighting chance” and make sure they get everything they need to lead a successful life. The foundation sponsors kids from broken homes and gives them an opportunity to shine. Mike wants to keep their needs met because he too came from a broken home. He sees to it that they have everything from shelter to healthcare to mentoring if they need.
The house before Tyson
Mike Tyson may be the most notable resident in the Ohio home, but he actually wasn’t the first. The house was built in 1979 by Ted Vannelli, a politician, who had to sell it when he was convicted for multiple counts of corruption. Tyson then bought the house after his release from prison and turned it into the glorious mansion it became during his time there. It was located near the house Don King, a boxing promoter, so perhaps Tyson had a comeback plan at the time.
Not to be touched
Obviously many changes and renovations had to be done in order to restore the house. There is one thing however that the church does not plan to touch. There are specific details above the fireplace that supposedly used to hold all of Tyson’s championship belts and the area will remain the same with no changes. This is because the church does want to keep a bit of what used to be since the home was so extraordinary and did belong to such a legend.
Nick DeJacimo is the leader of Living Word Sanctuary Church and therefore is overseeing the construction. He is very excited about the project and can’t wait for everything to be finished. The whole community from the church has helped to bring the mansion back to life and they have worked hard for it. They simply needed a bigger place because the YMCA was just not working for them. DeJacimo was in good spirits during an interview, even joking about keeping the tigers.
Living Word community
The church got the keys for Tyson’s home back in 2015 and have since then been working on the renovations as a community. There are around 140 members within the Living Word Sanctuary Church looking forward to their new house of worship. The land is about 60-acres and DeJacimo mentioned that when they took over, there was so much grass it could have been sold for hay. The trees had grown through the main fence and there was a lot of work to be done.
DeJacimo says that he is very thankful that such an opportunity came through for his community. He was shocked that the church was able to take over the property for just $50,000 and now his church will have a new place to call home. While the place had plenty of up-keeping that needed to be done, the structure was ideally perfect. The mansion had sat untouched for ten years before he and his church members entered. They call it a miracle to have been able to work together on it.
A huge selling point
One thing that DeJacimo keeps noticing is that people are fascinated by the former resident of the gorgeous home. He says that bikers and random people are stopping by the construction site to ask questions an learn more about his plans. The pastor claims that this is wonderful because perhaps their curiosity will help more people join the church and come to his services. Imagine, praying in the mansion that used to host some of the most fabulous parties and in the home of such an infamous man.