Michael Gerard “Mike” Tyson (born June 30, 1966) is a retired American boxer. Tyson was the undisputed heavyweight champion and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles. He won the WBC title when he was 20 years, 4 months and 22 days old, after defeating Trevor Berbick by a TKO in the second round. Throughout his career, Tyson became well-known for his ferocious and intimidating boxing style as well as his controversial behavior both inside and outside the ring.
Nicknamed “Kid Dynamite” and “Iron Mike”, Tyson won his first 19 professional bouts by knockout, with twelve of them occurring in the first round. He unified the belts in the splintered heavyweight division in the late 1980s to become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Tyson became the lineal champion when he knocked out Michael Spinks in the first 91 seconds of the fight. Tyson lost his titles to 42-to-1 underdog Buster Douglas on February 11, 1990, in Tokyo, Japan, by a knockout in round 10.
In 1992, Tyson was convicted of sexually assaulting Desiree Washington, for which he served three years in prison. After being released from prison in 1995, he engaged in a series of comeback fights. He regained a portion of the heavyweight title, before losing it to Evander Holyfieldin a 1996 fight by an 11th round TKO. Their 1997 rematch ended when Tyson was disqualified for biting off part of Holyfield’s ear. He fought for a championship again at 35, losing by knockout to Lennox Lewis in 2002. Tyson retired from professional boxing in 2006 after he was knocked out in consecutive matches against Danny Williams and Kevin McBride.
He is ranked #16 on Ring Magazine‘s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.
Tyson was born in Brooklyn, New York. He has a brother, Rodney, who is five years older than he. His sister, Denise, died of a heart attack aged 25 in 1991. Tyson’s father, Jimmy Kirkpatrick, abandoned his family when Tyson was 2, leaving his mother, Lorna Smith Tyson to care for them on her own. The family lived in Bedford-Stuyvesant until their financial burdens necessitated a move to Brownsville when Tyson was 10 years old. Tyson’s mother died six years later, leaving 16-year-old Tyson in the care of boxing manager and trainer Cus D’Amato, who would become his legal guardian. Tyson has been quoted saying, “I never saw my mother happy with me and proud of me for doing something: She only knew me as being a wild kid running the streets, coming home with new clothes that she knew I didn’t pay for. I never got a chance to talk to her or know about her. Professionally, it has no effect, but it’s crushing emotionally and personally.”
Throughout his childhood, Tyson lived in and around high-crime neighborhoods. According to an interview in Details (magazine) his first fight was with a bigger kid over his mistreatment of one of Tyson’s birds. He was repeatedly caught committing petty crimes and fighting those who ridiculed his high-pitched voice and lisp. By the age of 13, he had been arrested 38 times. He ended up at the Tryon School for Boys in Johnstown, New York. It was at the school that Tyson’s emerging boxing ability was discovered by Bobby Stewart, a juvenile detention center counselor and former boxer. Stewart considered Tyson to be an outstanding fighter and trained him for a few months before introducing him to Cus D’Amato.
Tyson was later removed from the reform school by Cus D’Amato. Kevin Rooney also trained Tyson, and he was occasionally assisted by Teddy Atlas, although he was dismissed by D’Amato when Tyson was 15. Rooney eventually took over all training duties for the young fighter.
Tyson’s brother is a physician assistant in the trauma center of the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He has always been very supportive of his brother’s career and was often seen at Tyson’s boxing matches in Las Vegas, Nevada. When asked about their relationship, Mike has been quoted saying, “My brother and I see each other occasionally and we love each other,” and “My brother was always something and I was nothing.
Tyson competed at the 1981 and 1982 Junior Olympic Games, and won the gold medal twice. In 1981 against Joe Cortez and in 1982 against Kelton Brown whose corner threw in the towel within the first round. He holds the Junior Olympic quickest knockout record with 8 seconds. In addition he won every bout at the Junior Olympic Games by knockout.
Rise to stardom
Tyson made his professional debut as an 18 year old on March 6, 1985, in Albany, New York. He defeated Hector Mercedes via a first round knockout. He had 15 bouts in his first year as a professional. Fighting frequently, Tyson won 26 of his first 28 fights by KO/TKO – 16 in the first round. The quality of his opponents gradually increased to journeyman fighters and borderline contenders, like James Tillis, David Jaco, Jesse Ferguson, Mitch Green and Marvis Frazier. His win streak attracted media attention, leading to his being billed as the next great heavyweight champion. D’Amato died in November 1985, relatively early into Tyson’s professional career; some speculate that his death was the genesis of many of the troubles Tyson was to experience later as his life and career progressed.
Tyson’s first nationally televised bout took place on February 16, 1986, at Houston Field House in Troy, New York against journeyman heavyweight Jesse Ferguson. Tyson knocked down Ferguson with an uppercut in the fifth round that broke Ferguson’s nose. During the sixth round, Ferguson began to hold and clinch Tyson in an apparent attempt to avoid further punishment. After admonishing Ferguson several times to obey his commands to box, the referee finally stopped the fight near the middle of the sixth round. Initially ruled a win for Tyson by disqualification (DQ) of his opponent, the ruling was subsequently “adjusted” as a win by technical knockout (TKO) after Tyson’s corner protested that a DQ win would end Tyson’s string of knockout victories, and that a knockout would have been the inevitable result. The rationale offered for the revised outcome was that the fight was actually stopped because Ferguson could not (rather than would not) continue boxing.
On November 22, 1986, Tyson was given his first title fight against Trevor Berbick for the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship. Tyson won the title by second round TKO, and at the age of 20 years and 4 months became the youngest heavyweight champion in history. Tyson’s dominant performance brought many accolades. Donald Saunders wrote: “The noble and manly art of boxing can at least cease worrying about its immediate future, now [that] it has discovered a heavyweight champion fit to stand alongside Dempsey, Tunney, Louis, Marciano and Ali.”
Because of Tyson’s strength, many fighters were intimidated by him. This was backed up by his outstanding hand speed, accuracy, coordination, power, and timing. Tyson was also noted for his defensive abilities. Holding his hands high in the Peek-a-Boo style taught by his mentor Cus D’Amato, he slipped and weaved out of the way of the opponent’s punches while closing the distance to deliver his own punches. One of Tyson’s trademark combinations was to throw a right hook to his opponent’s body, then follow it up with a right uppercut to his opponent’s chin; very few boxers would remain standing if caught by this combination. Boxers knocked down with this combination include Jesse Ferguson and Jose Ribalta.
Expectations for Tyson were extremely high, and he embarked on an ambitious campaign to fight all the top heavyweights in the world. Tyson defended his title against James Smith on March 7, 1987, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He won by unanimous decision and added Smith’s World Boxing Association (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 International Boxing Federation (IBF) title from Tony Tucker in a twelve round unanimous decision. He became the first heavyweight to own all three major belts — WBA, WBC, and IBF — at the same time. Another fight in 1987 was in October that ended with a victory for Tyson by knockout in the seventh round, against 1984 Olympics Super Heavyweight Gold Medallist Tyrell Biggs. Also in 1987, Nintendo released the video game, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, for its Nintendo Entertainment System.
Tyson had three fights in 1988. He faced Larry Holmes on January 22, 1988, and defeated the legendary former champion by a fourth round KO. This was the only knockout loss Holmes suffered in 75 professional bouts. In March, Tyson then fought contender Tony Tubbs in Tokyo, Japan, fitting in an easy two-round victory amid promotional and marketing work.
On June 27, 1988, Tyson faced Michael Spinks. Spinks, who had taken the heavyweight championship from Larry Holmes via a 15-round decision in 1985, had not lost his title in the ring but was not recognized as champion by the major boxing organizations. Holmes had previously given up all but the IBF title, and that was eventually stripped from Spinks after he elected to fight Gerry Cooney (winning by a 5th-round TKO) rather than IBF Number 1 Contender Tony Tucker, as the Cooney fight provided him a larger purse. However, Spinks did become the lineal champion by beating Holmes and many (including Ring magazine) considered him to have a legitimate claim to being the true heavyweight champion. The bout was, at the time, the richest fight in history and expectations were very high. Boxing pundits were predicting a titanic battle of styles, with Tyson’s aggressive infighting conflicting with Spinks’ skillful outfighting and footwork. The fight ended after 91 seconds when Tyson knocked Spinks out in the first round; many consider this to be the pinnacle of Tyson’s fame and boxing ability.Spinks, previously unbeaten, would never fight professionally again.
Controversy and upset
During this period, Tyson’s problems outside boxing were also starting to emerge. His marriage to Robin Givens was heading for divorce, and his future contract was being fought over by Don King and Bill Cayton. In late 1988, Tyson parted with manager Bill Cayton and fired longtime trainer Kevin Rooney, the man many credit for honing Tyson’s craft after the death of D’Amato. Without Rooney, Tyson’s training and personal discipline declined.. In 1989, Tyson had only two fights amid personal turmoil. He faced the popular British boxer Frank Bruno in February in a fight where Bruno managed to stun Tyson at the end of the 1st round, although Tyson went on to knock out Bruno in the fifth round. Tyson then knocked outCarl “The Truth” Williams in one round in July. In 1989, Tyson was granted an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Central State University in Ohio.
By 1990, Tyson seemed to have lost direction, and his personal life and training habits were in disarray. In a fight on February 11, 1990, he lost the undisputed championship to Buster Douglas in Tokyo. Tyson was a huge betting favourite, but Douglas (priced at 42/1) was at an emotional peak after losing his mother to a stroke 23 days prior to the fight, and fought the fight of his life. Tyson failed to find a way past Douglas’s quick jab that had a 12-inch (30 cm) reach advantage over his own. Tyson did send Douglas to the floor in the eighth round, catching him with an uppercut, but Douglas recovered sufficiently to hand Tyson a heavy beating in the subsequent two rounds (after the fight, the Tyson camp would complain that the count was slow and that Douglas had taken longer than ten seconds to get to his feet). Just 35 seconds into the 10th round, Douglas unleashed a brutal combination of hooks that sent Tyson to the canvas for the first time in his career. He was counted out by referee Octavio Meyran. Though Tyson has been reputed to have been out of shape for this fight, in fact he weighed in at 220 and 1/2 pounds, only 2 pounds more than he had weighed when he beat Michael Spinks 20 months earlier. Mentally, however, he was not prepared for the inspired Douglas.
The knockout victory by Douglas over Tyson, the previously undefeated “baddest man on the planet” and arguably the most feared boxer in professional boxing at that time, has been described as one of the most shocking upsets in modern sports history.
After the loss, Tyson recovered by knocking out Henry Tillman and Alex Stewart in the first round in his next two fights. Tyson’s victory over the 1984 Olympics Boxing Heavyweight gold medalist (and 1983 Boxing Heavyweight silver medalist of the Pan American Games) Tillman enabled Tyson to avenge his early career amateur losses at Tillman’s hands. These bouts set up an elimination match for another shot at the undisputed world heavyweight championship, which Evander Holyfield had taken from Douglas in his first defense of the title.
Tyson, who was the #1 contender, faced #2 contender Donovan “Razor” Ruddock on March 18, 1991, in Las Vegas. Ruddock at the time was seen as the most dangerous heavyweight around and was thought of as one of the hardest punching heavyweights. Tyson and Ruddock went back and forth for most of the fight, until referee Richard Steele controversially stopped the fight during the seventh round in favor of Tyson. This decision infuriated the fans in attendance, sparking a post-fight melee in the audience and the referee had to be escorted from the ring.
Tyson and Ruddock met again on June 28 that year, with Tyson knocking down Ruddock twice and winning a 12 round unanimous decision. A fight between Tyson and Holyfield for the undisputed championship was arranged for the autumn of 1991.
The match between Tyson and reigning champion Holyfield did not occur, with Tyson pulling out of the scheduled November 8, 1991 title fight at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, with a rib cartilage injury sustained during training.
Rape conviction, prison, and conversion
Tyson was arrested in July 1991 for the rape of 18-year-old Desiree Washington, Miss Black Rhode Island, in an Indianapolis hotel room. Tyson’s rape trial took place in the Indianapolis courthouse from January 26 to February 10, 1992. As part of its case, the prosecution documented Tyson’s history of problems with attractive young women. Tyson’s defense contended that Tyson was the victim and that Washington was a cold and calculated vixen out to hurt Tyson for publicity.
Desiree Washington testified that she received a phone call from Tyson at 1:36 am on July 19, 1991 inviting her to a party. Having joined Tyson in his limousine, Washington testified that Tyson made sexual advances towards her. She testified that upon arriving at his hotel room, Tyson pinned her down on his bed and raped her despite her pleas to stop. She afterwards ran out of the room and asked Tyson’s chauffeur to drive her back to her hotel.
Partial corroboration of Washington’s story came via testimony from Tyson’s chauffeur, Virginia Foster, who confirmed Desiree Washington’s state of shock. Further testimony came from Dr. Thomas Richardson, the emergency room physician who examined Washington more than 24 hours after the incident and confirmed that Washington’s physical condition was consistent with rape.
Taking the witness stand, under Tyson’s lead defense lawyer Vincent Fuller’s direct examination, Tyson claimed that everything had taken place with Washington’s full cooperation and he claimed not to have forced himself upon her. But when he was cross-examined by the lead prosecutor, Gregory Garrison, Tyson denied claims that he had misled Washington and insisting that she wanted to have sex with him. Because of Tyson’s hostile and defensive responses to the questions during cross-examination, some have speculated that his behavior made him unlikable to the jury who saw him as brutish and arrogant.
Tyson was convicted on the rape charge on February 10, 1992 after the jury deliberated for nearly 10 hours.
Alan Dershowitz filed an appeal on Tyson’s behalf alleging that the victim had a history of at least one false accusation of rape, that she had offered to drop charges in return for $1 million and that the judge had blocked testimony from witnesses who would have contradicted Washington. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled against Tyson in a 2-1 vote.
Under Indiana law, a defendant convicted of a felony must begin serving his prison sentence immediately after the sentence is imposed. On March 26, he was given a sentence of 10 years, six in prison and four on probation. He was assigned to the Indiana Youth Center (now the Plainfield Correctional Facility) in April 1992. and he was released in March 1995 after serving three years. He was scheduled to be released on Saturday March 25, 1995. During his incarceration, Tyson converted to Islam. Recently, on July 2, 2010 he visited Mecca to perform the Umrah (Minor Islamic pilgrimage).
Tyson did not fight again until later in 1995 after he was paroled from prison. He had two comeback bouts against Peter McNeeley and Buster Mathis Jr., which he won easily. Interest in Tyson’s first comeback fight since his incarceration was high enough that it grossed more than US$96 million worldwide, including a United States record $63 million for PPV television. The fight was purchased by 1.52 million homes, setting both PPV viewership and revenue records for that time. The brief 89 second fight wherein McNeeley swiftly crumpled on facing Tyson, elicited criticism that Tyson’s management lined up “Tomato Cans“, easily defeatable and unworthy boxers for his return.
He regained one belt by easily winning the WBC title from Frank Bruno (their second fight) in March 1996 by knocking him out in the third round. Tyson added the WBA belt by defeating champion Bruce Seldon in one round in September that year. Seldon was severely criticized and mocked in the popular press for seemingly collapsing to innocuous punches from Tyson in the fight.
Tyson vs. Holyfield I
Tyson attempted to defend the WBA title against Evander Holyfield. Holyfield was in the fourth fight of his own comeback after retiring in 1994 following the loss of his championship toMichael Moorer (who subsequently lost to George Foreman by knockout during his first defense). It was said that Don King and others saw Holyfield, the former champion, who was 34 at the time of the fight and a huge underdog, as a washed up fighter.
On November 9, 1996, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Tyson faced Holyfield in a title bout dubbed ‘Finally.’ In a surprising turn of events, the supposedly “washed-up” Holyfield, who was given virtually no chance to win by numerous commentators, defeated Tyson by TKO when referee Mitch Halpern stopped the bout in round 11. Holyfield made history with the upset win by being the second person ever to win a heavyweight championship belt three times, after Muhammad Ali. However Holyfield’s victory was marred by allegations from Tyson’s camp of Holyfield’s frequent headbutts during the bout. Although the headbutts were ruled accidental by the referee, they would become a point of contention in the subsequent rematch.
Tyson vs. Holyfield II and aftermath
Tyson and Holyfield fought again on June 28, 1997. Originally, Halpern was supposed to be the referee, but after Tyson’s camp protested, Halpern stepped aside in favor of Mills Lane. The highly anticipated rematch was dubbed “The Sound and the Fury,” and was held at the Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena, site of the first bout. It was a lucrative event, drawing even more attention than the first bout and grossing $100 million. Tyson received $30 million and Holyfield $35 million—the highest paid professional boxing purses ever until 2007. The fight was purchased by 1.99 million households, setting a pay-per-view buy rate record that stood until the May 5, 2007, De La Hoya-Mayweather boxing match.
Soon to become one of the most controversial events in modern sports, the fight was stopped at the end of the third round, with Tyson disqualified for biting Holyfield on both ears. The first time he bit him the match was temporarily stopped. RefereeMills Lane deducted two points from Tyson and the fight resumed. However, after the match resumed, Tyson did it again: this time Tyson was disqualified and Holyfield won the match. One bite was severe enough to remove a piece of Holyfield’s right ear, which was found on the ring floor after the fight. Tyson later stated that it was retaliation for Holyfield repeatedly head butting him without penalty. In the confusion that followed the ending of the bout and announcement of the decision, a near riot erupted in the arena and several people were injured in the ensuing melee.
Tyson’s former trainer, Teddy Atlas, had predicted that Tyson would be disqualified. “He planned this,” Atlas said. “That’s the only reason he went through with this fight. This was a charade so he could get out and live with himself as long as in his world he would be known as savage and brutal. In his world, he was the man who attacked like an animal and people would say he was trying to annihilate Holyfield, trying to kill him, when nothing could be further from the truth.”
As a subsequent fallout from the incident, $3 million was immediately withheld from Tyson’s $30-million purse by the Nevada state boxing commission (the most it could legally hold back at the time). Two days after the fight, Tyson issued a statement, apologizing to Holyfield for his actions and asked not to be banned for life over the incident. Tyson was roundly condemned in the news media but was not without defenders. Novelist and commentator Katherine Dunn wrote a column that criticized Holyfield’s sportsmanship in the controversial bout and charged the news media with being biased against Tyson.
On July 9, 1997, Tyson’s boxing license was rescinded by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in a unanimous voice vote; he was also fined US$3 million and ordered to pay the legal costs of the hearing. As most state athletic commissions honor sanctions imposed by other states, this effectively made Tyson unable to box in the United States. The revocation was not permanent, as a little more than a year later on October 18, 1998, the commission voted 4–1 to restore Tyson’s boxing license.
During his time away from boxing in 1998, Tyson made a guest appearance at WrestleMania XIV as an enforcer for the main event match between Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin. During this time, Tyson was also an unofficial member of D-Generation X. Tyson was paid $3 million for being guest enforcer of the match at Wrestlemania.
1999 to 2005
In January 1999, Tyson returned to the ring to fight the South African Francois Botha, in another fight that ended in controversy. While Botha initially controlled the fight, Tyson allegedly attempted to break Botha’s arms during a tie-up and both boxers were cautioned by the referee in the ill-tempered bout. Botha was ahead on points on all scorecards and was confident enough to mock Tyson as the fight continued. Nonetheless, Tyson landed a straight right-hand in the fifth round that knocked out Botha.
Legal problems caught up with Tyson once again. On February 5, 1999, Tyson was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment, fined $5,000, and ordered to serve two years probation and perform 200 hours of community service for assaulting two motorists after a traffic accident on August 31, 1998. He served nine months of that sentence. After his release, he foughtOrlin Norris on October 23, 1999. Tyson knocked down Norris with a left hook thrown after the bell sounded to end the first round. Norris injured his knee from the off-the-clinch-punch when he went down and said he was unable to continue the fight. Consequently, the bout was ruled a no contest.
In 2000, Tyson had three fights. The first was staged at the MEN Arena, Manchester, England against Julius Francis. Following controversy as to whether Tyson should be allowed into the country, he took four minutes to knock out Francis, ending the bout in the second round. He also fought Lou Savarese in June 2000 in Glasgow, winning in the first round; the fight lasted only 38 seconds. Tyson continued punching after the referee had stopped the fight, knocking the referee to the floor as he tried to separate the boxers. In October, Tyson fought the similarly controversial Andrzej Gołota, winning in round three after Gołota refused to continue after his jaw was broken. The result was later changed to no contest after Tyson refused to take a pre-fight drug test and then tested positive for marijuana in a post-fight urine test. Tyson fought only once in 2001, beating Brian Nielsen in Copenhagen with a seventh round TKO.
Lewis vs. Tyson
Tyson once again had the opportunity to fight for a heavyweight championship in 2002, against Lennox Lewis, who held the WBC, IBF and IBOtitles at the time. As promising amateurs, Tyson and Lewis had sparred together at a training camp, in a meeting arranged by Cus D’Amato in 1984. Tyson sought to fight Lewis in Nevada for a more lucrative box-office venue, but the Nevada boxing commission refused him a license to box as he was facing possible sexual assault charges at the time.
Two years prior to the bout, in a post-fight interview following the Savarese fight, Tyson had made several inflammatory remarks to Lewis, “I want your heart, I want to eat his children.” On January 22, 2002, a brawl involving the two boxers and their entourages occurred at a press conference held in New York to publicize the planned event. The melee put to rest any chance of a Nevada fight and alternative arrangements had to be made, with the fight eventually occurring on June 8 at the Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee. Lewis dominated the fight and knocked out Tyson with a right hook in the eighth round. Tyson was magnanimous after the fight and praised Lewis on his victory. This fight was the highest-grossing event in pay-per-view history at that time, generating $106.9 million from 1.95 million buys in the USA.
Late career, bankruptcy and retirement
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 rumors of Tyson’s lack of fitness and that he took time out from training to party in Las Vegas and get a new facial tattoo. This would be Tyson’s final professional victory in the ring.
In August 2003, after years of financial struggles, Tyson finally filed for bankruptcy. In 2003, amid all his economic troubles, he was named by Ring Magazine at number 16, right behind Sonny Liston, among the 100 greatest punchers of all time.
On August 13, 2003, Tyson entered the ring for a face to face confrontation against then K-1 fighting phenom Bob Sapp immediately after Sapp’s win against Kimo Leopoldo in Las Vegas. K-1 signed Tyson to a contract with the hopes of making a fight happen between the two, but Tyson’s status as a convicted felon made him unable to obtain a visa to enter Japan, where the fight would have been most profitable. Alternate locations were discussed, but the fight never came to fruition. It is unknown if he actually profited from this arrangement.
On July 30, 2004, Tyson faced the British boxer Danny Williams in another comeback fight, this time staged in Louisville, Kentucky. Tyson dominated the opening two rounds. The third round was 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 unexpectedly knocked out. After the fight, it was revealed 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-hand punches 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 no longer had “the fighting guts or the heart anymore
To help pay off his debts, Tyson returned to the ring on a world tour in a series of four-round exhibitions against journeyman heavyweight Corey “T-Rex” Sanders in Youngstown, Ohio 2006. Tyson, without headgear at 5 ft 10.5 in and 216 pounds, was in great shape, but far from his prime against Sanders, with headgear at 6 ft 8 in and 293 pounds, a loser of his last seven pro bouts and nearly blind from a detached retina in his left eye. Tyson appeared to be “holding back” in these exhibitions to prevent an early end to the “show”. “If I don’t get out of this financial quagmire there’s a possibility I may have to be a punching bag for somebody. The money I make isn’t going to help my bills from a tremendous standpoint, but I’m going to feel better about myself. I’m not going to be depressed,” explained Tyson about the reasons for his “comeback”.
A computer program, cited by British boxing commentator and journalist Reg Gutteridge in his 1995 book ‘Mike Tyson – The Release Of Power’, took into account the skill, speed, power, strength, title defences, weight, career records and calibre of opponents. The careers of all heavyweight champions from the last 100 years were evaluated and Tyson ranked as the 4th greatest heavyweight from the last 50 years and 7th greatest of all-time.
After professional boxing
On the front page of USA Today on June 3, 2005, Tyson was quoted as saying: “My whole life has been a waste – I’ve been a failure.” He continued: “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 began to spend much of his time tending to his 350 pigeons in Paradise Valley, an upscale enclave near Phoenix, Arizona.
Tyson has stayed in the limelight by promoting various websites and companies. In the past Tyson had shunned endorsements, accusing other athletes of putting on a false front to obtain them. He has also done entertainment boxing shows at a casino in Las Vegas and started a tour of exhibition bouts to pay off his numerous debts.
On December 29, 2006, Tyson was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona, on suspicion of DUI and felony drug possession after he nearly crashed into a police SUV shortly after leaving a nightclub. According to a police probable-cause statement, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, “[Tyson] admitted to using [drugs] today and stated he is an addict and has a problem.” Tyson pleaded not guilty on January 22, 2007, in Maricopa County Superior Court to felony drug possession and paraphernalia possession counts and two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of drugs. On February 8 he checked himself into an in-patient treatment program for “various addictions” while awaiting trial on the drug charges.
On September 24, 2007, Mike Tyson pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and driving under the influence. He was convicted of these charges in November 2007 and sentenced to 24 hours in jail, 360 hours community service and 3 years probation. Prosecutors had requested a year-long jail sentence, but the judge praised Tyson for seeking help with his drug problems.
On November 11, 2009, Mike Tyson was arrested after getting into a scuffle at Los Angeles International airport with a photographer. No charges were filed.
Tyson appeared on WWE Monday Night Raw as the guest host on 11 January 2010 and even made his return to the ring in a tag team match with Chris Jericho against D-Generation X. At first, the duo had their way until Tyson revealed a DX T-shirt he was wearing underneath a black shirt he was wearing and knocked-out Jericho, which allowed Shawn Michaels to pin Jericho, giving DX the win.
Tyson has been legally married three times and he had seven children with several different women.
His first marriage was to actress Robin Givens from February 7, 1988 to February 14, 1989. Givens was known for her work on the sitcom Head of the Class. Tyson’s marriage to Givens was especially tumultuous with allegations of violence, spousal abuse and mental instability on Tyson’s part. Matters came to a head when Tyson and Givens gave a joint interview with Barbara Walters on the ABC TV newsmagazine show 20/20 in September 1988, in which Givens described life with Tyson as “torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could possibly imagine.” Givens also described Tyson as “manic depressive” on national television while Tyson looked on with an intent and calm expression. A month later, Givens announced that she was seeking a divorce from the allegedly abusive Tyson. They had no children but she claims to have had a miscarriage while Tyson claims she was never pregnant and only used that to get him to marry her.
His second marriage was to Monica Turner from April 19, 1997 to January 14, 2003. At the time of the divorce filing, Turner worked as a pediatric resident at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC. She is also the sister of Michael Steele, the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and current Republican National Committee Chairman.Turner filed for divorce from Tyson in January 2002, claiming that he committed adultery during their five-year marriage, an act that “has neither been forgiven nor condoned.” The couple had two children: Rayna and Amir.
On May 25, 2009, Tyson’s 4-year-old daughter, Exodus, was found by her 7-year-old brother, Miguel, unconscious and tangled in a cord, dangling from an exercise treadmill. The child’s mother untangled her, administered CPR and called for medical attention. Exodus was listed in “extremely critical condition” and was on life support at Phoenix‘s St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. She subsequently died of her injuries on May 26, 2009. Ten days later, Tyson wed for the third time, to girlfriend Lakiha Spicer, age 32, exchanging vows on Saturday, June 6, 2009, in a short, private ceremony, at the La Bella Wedding Chapel at the Las Vegas Hilton hotel-casino. Spicer was a resident of nearby suburban Henderson, NV. County marriage records in Las Vegas show the couple got a marriage license 30 minutes before their ceremony. Spicer is the mother of Tyson’s daughter, Milan. His other children include Mikey (born 1990), Miguel (born 2002) and D’Amato (born 1990). He has a total of seven children including the deceased Exodus. In 2009, he became a vegan.
While on the talk show The View in early May 2010, Tyson revealed that he is now forced to live paycheck to paycheck. He went on to say: “I’m totally destitute and broke. But I have an awesome life, I have an awesome wife who cares about me. I’m totally broke. I had a lot of fun. It (going broke) just happened. I’m very grateful. I don’t deserve to have the wife that I have; I don’t deserve the kids that I have, but I do, and I’m very grateful.
In popular culture
At the height of his fame and career in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, Tyson was one of the most recognized sports personalities in the world. Apart from his many sporting accomplishments, his outrageous and controversial behavior in the ring and in his private life has kept him in the public eye and in the courtroom. As such, Tyson has appeared in myriad popular media in cameo appearances in film and television, for example in the 2009 comedy The Hangover. In a 2010 interview, he stated that he appeared in The Hangover in order to fund a drug habit. He went on to say that he had given up drugs, had committed to his vegan lifestyle and had no plans to return to the boxing ring, going so far as to say that the thought “petrified” him. He has also been featured in video games and as a subject of parody or satire.
Published in 2007, author Joe Layden’s book The Last Great Fight: The Extraordinary Tale of Two Men and How One Fight Changed Their Lives Forever, chronicled the lives of Tyson and Douglas before and after their heavyweight championship fight. The book received positive reviews and claimed the fight was essentially the beginning of the end of boxing’s popularity in mainstream sports.
In 2008, the documentary Tyson premiered at the annual Cannes Film Festival in France. The film was directed by James Toback and has interviews with Tyson and clips of his fights and from his personal life. It received high critical praise, scoring an 86% approval rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes from a pool of over 100 film critics.
Professional boxing record
|50 Wins (44 knockouts, 5 decisions, 1 disqualification), 6 Losses , 0 Draws, 2 No Contests|
|Loss||50–6||Kevin McBride||TKO||6 (10), 3:00||2005-06-11||MCI Center, Washington, DC||Tyson’s trainer Jeff Fenech asked for the fight to be stopped after the sixth round.
Fenech decided Tyson was unable to continue through exhaustion and called the fight off.
|Loss||50–5||Danny Williams||KO||4 (10), 2:51||2004-07-30||Freedom Hall State Fairground,Louisville, KY||With 30 seconds left in round one, Tyson sustained ligament damage to his left knee and visibly reached for his knee in pain.
Tyson was knocked out in round four and claimed afterwards he was struggling to even stand from the injury. Four days later, Tyson underwent successful surgery to repair the torn knee ligaments.
|Win||50–4||Clifford Etienne||KO||1 (10), 0:49||2003-02-22||The Pyramid, Memphis, TN|
|Loss||49–4||Lennox Lewis||KO||8 (12), 2:25||2002-06-08||The Pyramid, Memphis, TN||IBF/IBO/WBC Heavyweight titles on the line.|
|Win||49–3||Brian Nielsen||TKO||7 (10), 3:00||2001-10-13||Parken, Copenhagen, Denmark||Corner retirement.|
|NC||48–3||Andrew Gołota||No contest||3 (10)||2000-10-20||The Palace, Auburn Hills, MI||Originally a win after round two for Tyson after Gołota refused to continue fighting, the bout was ruled
a no contest by the Michigan State Athletic Commission due to Tyson testing positive forcannabis after the fight.
|Win||48–3||Lou Savarese||TKO||1 (10), 0:38||2000-06-24||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||Tyson accidentally hits referee John Coyle after Coyle stopped the bout.
During post fight interview, he comments he’d eat Lennox Lewis’ children.
|Win||47–3||Julius Francis||TKO||2 (10), 1:03||2000-01-29||M.E.N. Arena, Manchester, England|
|NC||46–3||Orlin Norris||No contest||1 (10), 3:00||1999-10-23||MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV||Norris suffered a knee injury following a post-bell punch from Tyson.|
|Win||46–3||Francois Botha||KO||5 (10), 2:59||1999-01-16||MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV|
|Loss||45–3||Evander Holyfield||Disqualification||3 (12)||1997-06-28||MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV||“The Bite Fight“, Tyson disqualified for twice biting Holyfield’s ears in round three.
Tyson’s license was revoked for a year for this.
|Loss||45–2||Evander Holyfield||TKO||11 (12), 0:37||1996-11-09||MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV||Lost WBA Heavyweight title.|
|Win||45–1||Bruce Seldon||TKO||1 (12), 1:49||1996-09-07||MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV||Won WBA Heavyweight title.
WBC title not on the line.
Tyson relinquished the WBC title on September 24.
It was after this match that rapper Tupac Shakur was shot in a drive-by shooting.
|Win||44–1||Frank Bruno||TKO||3 (12), 0:50||1996-03-16||MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV||Won WBC Heavyweight title.|
|Win||43–1||Buster Mathis, Jr.||KO||3 (12), 2:32||1995-12-16||Core States Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Tyson defeated the undefeated counterpuncher with two right uppercuts as he slipped to the side when Mathis moved in.|
|Win||42–1||Peter McNeeley||Disqualification||1 (10)||1995-08-19||MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV||McNeeley was disqualified after his manager entered the ring. This was Tyson’s comeback fight after serving 4 years in prison.|
|Win||41–1||Donovan Ruddock||Decision(unanimous)||12||1991-06-28||Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV||Ruddock sustained a broken jaw and Tyson suffered a perforated eardrum. This was Tyson’s last fight before prison.|
|Win||40–1||Donovan Ruddock||TKO||7 (12), 2:22||1991-03-18||Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV||The fight was surrounded in controversy after referee Richard Steele stopped Ruddock in the 7th round after a barrage of punches from Tyson even though he appeared to be ok to continue. As a result of the premature stoppage a fight broke out in the ring between both camps and a rematch was called for.|
|Win||39–1||Alex Stewart||KO||1 (10), 2:27||1990-12-08||Convention Center, Atlantic City, NJ||The fight was waved off by the referee as a result of the three knock-down rule. Alex Stewart had gone down three times in the first round.|
|Win||38–1||Henry Tillman||KO||1 (10), 2:47||1990-06-16||Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV||Tyson gained revenge over the man who had beaten him twice in the amateurs.|
|Loss||37–1||James Douglas||KO||10 (12)||1990-02-11||Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan||Lost IBF/WBA/WBC/RING Heavyweight titles in what is considered to be the biggest upset in the history of boxing.|
|Win||37–0||Carl Williams||TKO||1 (12), 1:33||1989-07-21||Atlantic City, NJ||Retained IBF/WBA/WBC/RING Heavyweight titles.Tyson’s 6th defense as undisputed champion.|
|Win||36–0||Frank Bruno||TKO||5 (12), 2:55||1989-02-25||Las Vegas, NV||Retained IBF/WBA/WBC/RING Heavyweight titles.|
|Win||35–0||Michael Spinks||KO||1 (12), 1:31||1988-06-27||Atlantic City, NJ||Won Ring Magazine Heavyweight title and retained IBF/WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles.|
|Win||34–0||Tony Tubbs||TKO||2 (12), 2:54||1988-03-21||Tokyo, Japan||Retained IBF/WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles.|
|Win||33–0||Larry Holmes||TKO||4 (12), 2:55||1988-01-22||Atlantic City, NJ||Retained IBF/WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles.|
|Win||32–0||Tyrell Biggs||TKO||7 (12), 2:59||1987-10-16||Atlantic City, NJ||Retained IBF/WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles.|
|Win||31–0||Tony Tucker||Decision(unanimous)||12||1987-08-01||Las Vegas, NV||Won IBF Heavyweight title and retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles, becoming Undisputed Heavyweight champion.|
|Win||30–0||Pinklon Thomas||TKO||6 (12), 2:00||1987-05-30||Las Vegas, NV||Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles.|
|Win||29–0||James Smith||Decision(unanimous)||12||1987-03-07||Las Vegas, NV||Won WBA Heavyweight title and retained WBC Heavyweight title.|
|Win||28–0||Trevor Berbick||TKO||2 (12), 2:35||1986-11-22||Las Vegas, NV||Won WBC Heavyweight title and becomes youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history.|
|Win||27–0||Alonzo Ratliff||KO||2 (10), 1:41||1986-09-06||Las Vegas, NV|
|Win||26–0||José Ribalta||TKO||10 (10), 1:23||1986-08-17||Atlantic City, NJ|
|Win||25–0||Marvis Frazier||KO||1 (10), 0:30||1986-07-26||Glens Falls, NY||Frazier, the highly touted prospect, was backed up and crushed with a trademark Tyson combo and knocked out cold, in 30 seconds.|
|Win||24–0||Lorenzo Boyd||KO||2 (10), 1:43||1986-07-11||Swan Lake, NY|
|Win||23–0||William Hosea||KO||1 (10), 2:03||1986-06-28||Troy, NY|
|Win||22–0||Reggie Gross||TKO||1 (10), 2:36||1986-06-13||New York City, NY|
|Win||21–0||Mitch Green||Decision(unanimous)||10||1986-05-20||New York City, NY|
|Win||20–0||James Tillis||Decision(unanimous)||10||1986-05-09||Glens Falls, NY|
|Win||19–0||Steve Zouski||KO||3 (10), 2:39||1986-03-10||Uniondale, NY|
|Win||18–0||Jesse Ferguson||TKO||6 (10), 1:19||1986-02-16||Troy, NY|
|Win||17–0||Mike Jameson||TKO||5 (8), 0:46||1986-01-24||Atlantic City, NJ|
|Win||16–0||David Jaco||TKO||1 (10), 2:16||1986-01-11||Albany, NY|
|Win||15–0||Mark Young||KO||1, 0:50||1985-12-27||Latham, NY|
|Win||14–0||Sammy Scaff||KO||1 (10), 1:19||1985-12-06||New York City, NY|
|Win||13–0||Conroy Nelson||KO||2||1985-11-22||Latham, NY|
|Win||12–0||Eddie Richardson||KO||1, 1:17||1985-11-13||Houston, TX|
|Win||11–0||Sterling Benjamin||TKO||1, 0:54||1985-11-01||Latham, NY|
|Win||10–0||Robert Colay||KO||1 (8), 0:37||1985-10-25||Atlantic City, NJ|
|Win||9–0||Donnie Long||KO||1 (6), 1:28||1985-10-09||Atlantic City, NJ|
|Win||8–0||Michael Johnson||KO||1 (6), 0:39||1985-09-05||Atlantic City, NJ|
|Win||7–0||Lorenzo Canady||TKO||1 (6), 1:05||1985-08-15||Atlantic City, NJ|
|Win||6–0||Larry Sims||KO||3 (6), 2:04||1985-07-19||Poughkeepsie, NY|
|Win||5–0||John Alderson||TKO||2 (6)||1985-07-11||Atlantic City, NJ|
|Win||4–0||Ricardo Spain||KO||1 (6), 0:39||1985-06-20||Atlantic City, NJ|
|Win||3–0||Don Halpin||KO||4 (4)||1985-05-23||Albany, NY|
|Win||2–0||Trent Singleton||TKO||1 (4), 0:53||1985-04-10||Albany, NY|
|Win||1–0||Hector Mercedes||TKO||1 (4), 1:47||1985-03-06||Albany, NY|
Boxing championships and accomplishments
Tyson established an impressive list of accomplishments, mostly early in his career:
- Junior Olympic Games Champion Heavyweight 1982
- National Golden Gloves Champion Heavyweight 1984
- Undisputed Heavyweight champion (held all three major championship belts; WBA, IBF, and WBC) — August 1, 1987 – February 11, 1990
- WBC Heavyweight Champion — November 22, 1986 – February 11, 1990, March 16, 1996–1997 (Vacated)
- WBA Heavyweight Champion — March 7, 1987 – February 11, 1990, September 7, 1996 – November 9, 1996
- IBF Heavyweight Champion — August 1, 1987 – February 11, 1990
- Youngest Heavyweight champion — 20 years and 4 months
- Junior Olympic quickest KO — 8 seconds
- Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year—1986 & 1988
- BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality—1989
- Ring magazine Prospect of the Year—1985
& Donald CurryRing Magazine Fighter of the Year
Evander HolyfieldPreceded by
Evander HolyfieldRing Magazine Fighter of the Year
Pernell WhitakerPreceded by
Michael SpinksThe Ring Heavyweight Champion
June 27, 1988 – February 11, 1990Succeeded by
James Buster DouglasSporting positionsPreceded by
Trevor BerbickWBC Heavyweight Champion
November 22, 1986 – February 11, 1990Succeeded by
Buster DouglasPreceded by
James SmithWBA Heavyweight Champion
March 7, 1987 – February 11, 1990Preceded by
Tony TuckerIBF Heavyweight Champion
August 1, 1987 – 11 February 1990Vacant
Title last held by
Title next held by