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UFC icon Royce Gracie challenged Mike Tyson to a ‘no-holds-barred’ fight ‘to the finish’, a memoir revealed.

The boxing legend tore apart the heavyweight division in the late 1980s before a rape conviction, along with excessive partying and further personal life problems, rocked his career.

3Brazilian MMA star Royce Gracie (right) was a pioneer of UFCCredit: Getty 3Mike Tyson was challenged to a huge match-up by the UFC legendCredit: instagram.

While Iron Mike was preparing his comeback to the ring, the MMA promotion UFC was founded and Brazilian fighter Gracie, now 55, won three fights on its first night in late 1993.

And his desire to be seen as the top fighter on Earth led to a stunning challenge for the Baddest Man on the Planet.

In a memoir by sports writer Fiaz Rafiq last year,' To The Top: Enter the Octagon, the Ring and Entertainment', it was revealed: “[Tyson] was challenged by the Gracie Brothers, in particular Royce, back in the early 1990s.

“The UFC champion’s perception was that Tyson was the best boxer in the world, but he refused to accept that Tyson was the best ‘fighter’.

“The Gracies had a point. They had been beating all-comers from various styles long before the Octagon was first engineered.

“And Royce wasn’t going to rest until he did everything within his means to provoke the heavyweight champion into accepting a real fight in a no-holds-barred setting.

“To settle the matter once and for all, Royce formally challenged the most feared boxer of our time to a fight to the finish, and so did his elder brother Rickson.”

Gracie felt that Tyson, 56, was beatable despite his huge frame and ferocity - yet the proposition was declined with Iron Mike feeling there was 'no way he'd win'.

3To The Top: Enter the Octagon, the Ring and Entertainment is out May 3

Rafiq wrote: “For Royce, any fight was a matter of who could implement their own strategy, and much of the Gracie style was developed to avoid even the chance of their opponent landing a lucky punch.

“What Royce lacked in brute force, he clearly made up for in technical skill, as his opponents – including a professional boxer – quickly discovered.

“‘There’s only one way to find out,’ he told me, as a smirk crept across his face followed by loud laughter. Sadly for posterity, Tyson declined.”

In fact, Gracie came back a few years later with a fresh proposal, which was dismissed by a boxing world that is now clamouring for YouTube brawlers such as Jake Paul and crossover events like Conor McGregor’s match with Floyd Mayweather.

Rafiq continued: “In Iron Mike’s case, one rejection wasn’t enough for Royce.

“In 1997 the Gracie’s challenge made the headlines again, after the publication of a one-page advert in Men’s Health in America, in which the UFC champion once again challenged the former heavyweight boxer ‘officially’. Anywhere, anytime, no rules!

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“Years later I asked Royce about the famous challenge, and discovered that the heavyweight had been, at least in theory, willing to put up.

“‘I heard that my brother tried to bring him in [to the UFC],’ Royce explained. ‘He had accepted but people around him – the lawyers, managers, and the Commission – said no way, because boxing had too much to lose.

“But he had accepted and he wanted to do it. I talked to him before and he’s like, ‘I’d love to try this stuff out, man’.

“But people around him did not allow him to do it. If he lost a fight, if it happened, well, boxing was already in the decline in America so it wouldn’t be good for boxing’.”

To The Top: Enter the Octagon, the Ring and Entertainment by Fiaz Rafiq is published by Pitch Publishing, released May 3 and priced at £20 in hardback or £9.99. Ebook available in bookstores and following this Amazon link.

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Blue’s Lee Ryan says he’s seeking professional help after armed cops arrested him over flight drama

BLUE star Lee Ryan has told fans he is seeking professional help after armed police stormed a plane and arrested him last month.

The Sun revealed officers entered the plane after complaints were made that he had been abusive to cabin crew and refused to sit when they would not serve him a drink.

4Lee Ryan was removed from a flight by armed police at London City AirportCredit: Supplied 4The star said in a statement tonight that he would 'seek professional help'Credit: officialleeryan/Instagram

Last night, pop group Blue released a statement from the singer where he admitted: "I have always had my struggles with alcohol."

In post headed "a note from Lee" the star, 39, explained he would be reducing his work schedule.

It read: "Over the last few days, I have had a lot of time to think about my behaviour and how it affects people around me.

"As it has been well documented I have always had my struggles with alcohol and often say or do silly things as a results of that, which in turn has caused problems for myself and those around me.

"For that I want to apologise to everyone I have upset or offended."

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Lee continued: "Last week, I acted inappropriately on a flight to London and I want to say sorry to the airline staff, everyone on the flight, as well as my band mates, my family and our fans.

"The time has come for me to take ownership of the root cause of these problems and for that reason I am reducing my schedule for the time being to seek professional help and spend time with my family.

"I am aware of how my behaviour affects others and by starting this journey of working on my mental health I hope to emerge a better person for it."

He concluded: "Thank you to everyone that has sent me messages of support and I am sorry to everyone I have let down."

The singer - who is a dad of three - signed off the statement: "Lee x."

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The statement was met with an outpouring of support from the band's many fans.

One wrote: "Always take care of you and your family first and foremost Lee. We will always be here and always support you.

"Your mental health comes first. Hope you feel better soon babe."

Lee was arrested on suspicion of public taken from the jet into a waiting police van on the runway.

The Met Police said: “At around 1640hrs on Sunday, 31 July, officers met a flight that had arrived at London City Airport from Glasgow.

“A 39-year-old man was arrested for a public order offence. He was taken into custody at an East London police station and was released under investigation the following day.”

4Blue posted a statement from Lee on its social media accountsCredit: Twitter 4The star, seen here at the 2003 Brits, apologised to his bandmatesCredit: Getty

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