|Born||June 30, 1966|
|Total Fights||58 (2 No Contests)|
Michael Gerard Tyson (born June 30, 1966, Brooklyn, New York, USA) is a former American professional boxer and World Heavyweight Champion, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. In his prime, he routinely defeated prominent opponents in devastating fashion, and was one of the most feared boxers in the sport, known by such nicknames as "Iron" Mike Tyson and The Baddest Man on the Planet.
His once immensely promising career was undermined by serious personal problems, lack of preparation, and two periods of imprisonment. Upon release of his first prison sentence, he attempted a heavily anticipated comeback, but failed to reclaim his previous dominance. On June 11, 2005, Tyson suffered a defeat to journeyman Kevin McBride, and shortly after unofficially retired from the sport.
Born and raised in the notorious Brownsville section of Brooklyn, Tyson has a respect and knowledge of his sport's history, and has been called boxing's most vicious practitioner. As a youth, Tyson was passed in and out of juvenile detention centers, and was expelled from high school. He was later removed from reform school by Cus D'Amato, a well-known boxing trainer whose proteges included former champions Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres. D'Amato saw Tyson's potential and subsequently trained him, later becoming his official legal guardian and unofficial father figure. He died in 1985 shortly into Tyson's pro career. Some speculate that D'Amato's death was the genesis for many of the troubles Tyson was to experience as his life and career progressed. Teddy Atlas is another trainer who worked with Tyson in the earlier stages of his career when he was with D'Amato.
Rise to stardom
Mike Tyson made his pro debut on March 6 1985 in Albany, New York, which he won by first round knockout. He fought frequently in his first two years as a pro, staying undefeated and winning almost all of his fights by knockout, usually in the first round. His quality of opposition gradually increased to journeyman fighters and borderline contenders, and his impressive win streak attracted much media attention, as he was being billed as the next great heavyweight champion. On November 22 1986 Tyson was given his first title shot, fighting Trevor Berbick for the WBC heavyweight title. Tyson won the title by second round knockout, and at age 20 became the youngest heavyweight champion ever.
Expectations for the young champion were sky high, and he embarked on an ambitious campaign to fight all the top heavyweights in the world. In 1987, Tyson defended his title against James 'Bonecrusher' Smith on March 7 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He won on a unanimous points decision and added Smith's WBA title to his existing belt. 'Tyson mania' in the media was becoming rampant. He beat Pinklon Thomas in May with a knockout in the sixth round. On August 1 he took the IBF title from Tony Tucker, winning on points to become "undisputed heavyweight champion of the world". His only other fight in 1987 was in October against the 1984 Olympic champion Tyrell Biggs, a workmanlike performance from Tyson ending with a seventh round TKO.
Tyson had three fights in 1988. He faced an aged but still game Larry Holmes on January 22, and defeated the legendary former champion by fourth round TKO. He fought contender Tony Tubbs in Tokyo in March, fitting in an easy two round victory amid promotional and marketing work. On June 27, Tyson knocked out former IBF heavyweight champion Michael Spinks in a mere 91 seconds into the first round.
But Tyson's problems outside boxing were starting to gain prominence too, his marriage to Robin Givens was heading for divorce, and his future contract was being clawed over by Don King and Bill Cayton. In late 1988, Tyson fired longtime trainer, Kevin Rooney, the man many credit to honing Tyson's craft after the death of D'Amato. Without Rooney, Tyson skills slowly started to deteriorate and Tyson became more prone to looking for the one punch knockout. In 1989, Tyson had only two fights amid personal turmoil. He faced the popular British boxer Frank Bruno in February in a below-par fight, and managed a one round knockout of Carl Williams in July.
By 1990 Tyson had lost direction, and his personal life and training habits were in disarray. In a fight on February 11 with the unfancied James 'Buster' Douglas he lost by a tenth round KO. Despite post-fight protests by his manager over a 'slow count' in the eighth round when Douglas went down, Tyson lost all of his championships. Tyson's two other fights in 1990 were confidence regaining first round KOs.
In 1991 Tyson fought Donovan "Razor" Ruddock twice, once in March and again in June. These fights were notable because of Tyson's bizarre "jailhouse" talk towards his opponent. He told Ruddock, "Everyone knows you're a transvestite and you love me. I'm gonna make you my girlfriend. I can't wait to get my hands on a pretty thing like you". There was some controversy over the first fight which Tyson won in the seventh round, but he won the second comprehensively in a unanimous points decision.
Rape, prison and aftermath
In 1992, Tyson went on trial in Indiana after being arrested there in 1991 for the rape of Miss Black Rhode Island, Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. Tyson was convicted on the charge of rape on February 10 1992. He was given a sentence of 6 years and was released in May 1995 after serving 3 years. Under Indiana law, a defendant convicted of a felony must begin serving his prison sentence immediately after the sentence is imposed. While in Prison Tyson converted to Islam and adopted the name "Malik Abdul Aziz". Tyson did not fight again until 1995. Many of Tyson's supporters claimed that he was innocent. They pointed out that Washington had willingly gone into his motel room where the rape supposedly took place. At trial, the prosecutor pointed out that even though Washington might have been naive for doing this, it still didn't mean Tyson was any less guilty of the crime of rape.
After two comeback bouts against Peter McNeeley and Buster Mathis Jr., Tyson regained one belt by easily winning the WBC title from Frank Bruno in March 1996 in three rounds. In September 1996 Tyson won back the WBA title in 93 seconds from Bruce Seldon, having paid Lennox Lewis $4 million dollars to 'step-aside'. Tyson was criticized by many for fighting such inferior opposition in his two comeback bouts prior to fighting Bruno. For example, it was pointed out that McNeeley's "opponents" had lost almost three fourths of their fights. Mathis was a mediocre, light hitting puncher whose only claim to fame was that his father had also been a boxer who fought Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Seldon was subjected to much ridicule for his first round loss to Tyson because he seemed to go down and out from a very light punch. Many accused him of being so scared he just gave up.
The Holyfield fights
Tyson did not fight again until June of 1997 when there was a hugely anticipated rematch with Holyfield on June 28 for the WBA title. Tyson was disqualified in the third round, when, after losing his temper over a head butt from Holyfield and coming out without his gum-shield, he bit a chunk from Holyfield's ear. After receiving a warning from the referee Mills Lane, Tyson went for Holyfield's other ear. On July 9 Tyson was banned from boxing for one year and fined $3 million.
In January 1999 Tyson fought the South African Francois Botha and while Botha initially controlled the fight, Tyson landed a straight right-hand in the fifth round that put Botha down. On February 5 Tyson was sentenced to a year's imprisonment, fined $5,000, and ordered to serve 2 years probation and perform 200 hours of community service for the August 31 1998 assault on two people after a car accident. He served nine months of that sentence. After his release he fought Orlin Norris on 23 October 1999. Norris claimed to have twisted his ankle in the first round and refused to fight on. The bout was ruled a no contest.
In 2000 Tyson had three fights. The first was staged in Manchester, England against Julius Francis. Following controversy as to whether Tyson should be allowed into the country, he knocked out Francis in the second round. He also fought Lou Savarese in June 2000 in Glasgow, winning in the first round. The entire fight only lasted 38 seconds. Tyson continued punching after the referee had stopped the fight, accidentally knocking him to the floor as he tried to separate the boxers. In October Tyson fought the similarly controversial Andrew Golota, winning in round three, a result that was changed to no-contest after Tyson failed a doping test. Tyson fought only once in 2001 beating Brian Nielsen in Copenhagen with a seventh round TKO.
Tyson sought to fight Lennox Lewis in 2002 in Nevada, but the Nevada boxing commission refused him a license to box as he was facing possible sexual assault charges. Tyson made inflammatory remarks to Lewis prior to the eventual bout stating, "I want your heart, I wanna eat his children". A scuffle at a press conference finally removed any chance of a Nevada fight. The fight actually occurred on June 8th in Memphis, Tennessee, a fight Tyson was to lose by eighth round knockout.
On February 22, 2003, Tyson beat fringe contender Clifford Etienne 49 seconds into round one, once again in Memphis. The pre-fight was marred by rumours of Tyson's lack of fitness and that he took time out from training to party in Las Vegas and have a new facial tattoo.
In August 2003, after years of financial struggles, Tyson finally filed for bankruptcy. His bank balance was said to have been only $5,000. In 2003, amid all his economic troubles, he was named by Ring Magazine at number 16 among the 100 greatest punchers of all time.
On July 31 2004 Tyson faced the unregarded Englishman Danny Williams in another come back fight staged in Louisville, Kentucky. Tyson dominated the opening two rounds. The third round was more even, with Williams getting in some clean blows and also a few illegal ones, for which he was penalized. In the fourth round Tyson was surprisingly knocked out. It transpired that Tyson was trying to fight on one leg, having torn a ligament in his other knee in the first round. This was Tyson's fifth career defeat. He underwent surgery for the ligament four days after the fight. His manager Shelly Finkel claimed that Tyson was unable to throw meaningful right hands after the knee injury.
On June 11 2005, Tyson stunned the boxing world by quitting before the start of the seventh round in a close bout against journeyman Kevin McBride. After losing the third of his last four fights, Tyson said he would quit boxing because he hasn't "got the fighting guts or the heart anymore." (BBC SPORT).
Tyson has stayed in the limelight by promoting various web sites and companies. In April 2005, he joined a group of strippers on the roof of a strip club in New York to promote skill gaming site FortuneFun.com. Tyson has also endorsed online gaming site Casino Fortune and previously lent his name to a popular Nintendo game, Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!. In June 2004, sportswriter Sam Kellerman suggested that Tyson should move out of boxing and into product endorsement, stating that this has worked well for former boxer George Foreman. In the past Tyson had shunned endorsements, accusing other athletes of putting on a false front to obtain them.
On the front page of the June 3, 2005 USA Today, Tyson is quoted as saying: "My whole life has been a waste - I've been a failure." Tyson has grossed an estimated $400 million in his career, but filed bankruptcy a couple of years ago.
Mike continues, "I just want to escape. I'm really embarrassed with myself and my life. I want to be a missionary. I think I could do that while keeping my dignity without letting people know they chased me out of the country. I want to get this part of my life over as soon as possible. In this country nothing good is going to come of me. People put me so high; I wanted to tear that image down."
Tyson now spends his days tending to his pigeon coop of around 400. Tyson has also recently claimed that he regretted his past behaviour, but still denies raping Desiree Washington who came to his hotel room at four in the morning.
- Tyson was the youngest world heavyweight champion in history at age 20.
- Tyson's record stands at 50 wins, 6 losses and 2 no contests, with 44 knockout wins.
- In 1987, at a party, famous philosopher A.J. Ayer found Mike Tyson harassing Naomi Campbell and demanded Tyson stop. Tyson said "Do you know who the fuck I am? I'm the heavyweight champion of the world." Ayer replied "And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic! We are both pre-eminent in our field; I suggest that we talk about this like rational men."
- In 1989 Mike was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award.
- Tyson was the special enforcer for a WWF match at WrestleMania XIV on March 29, 1998 in which he pretended to be a member of D-Generation X and ended up punching out Shawn Michaels and making the 3 count for Stone Cold Steve Austin to win the WWF Championship from Michaels.
- Tyson was good friends with legendary rapper Tupac Shakur.
Cameos and parodies
- Tyson's high-pitched voice and distinctive lisp have made him one of the most popular targets for comedians and impersonators throughout his career.
- In 1987, Nintendo released Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, an NES game based on the arcade game "Punch Out!!", although there was later a version released in 1990 that replaced Mike Tyson with a fictional character, "Mr. Dream" after Nintendo's license with Mike Tyson expired. It is considered to be one of the best games released for the NES, and is highly regarded to this day.
- In 1989, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince scored a #23 R&B/#58 Pop hit with "I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson", in which the Fresh Prince envisions himself taking on the heavyweight champ (and taking a beating in the process). Tyson appears as himself in the song's music video.
- In the Japanese version of Capcom's Street Fighter II series, Balrog is called Mike Bison, as a parody of Mike Tyson, possibly called with a full name of "Michael Gerard Bison." Capcom USA switched the names of the Shadaloo Grandmasters around for the American versions in order to avoid a potential lawsuit from Mike Tyson.
- Tyson also appeared in a music video by rapper Ice-T in the early nineties.
- He also made a special cameo appearence in Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, where he played an extremely peaceful man meditating in a park.
- The Ultimate Mike Tyson Fan Website,The #1 Tyson News Source!
- Mike Tyson Bio and Fights From 1985 to 2005
- Mike Tyson's Career Record
- The Boxing Report
- Mike Tyson Fan site
- Joyce Carol Oates on Mike Tyson, 1986-1997
- June 2005 SI Tyson Retrospective Photo Gallery
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