Name: Mike Tyson
Nickname: Iron Mike, Kid Dynamite
Born: June 30, 1966
From: Brooklyn, New York
Weight Class: Heavyweight
Professional Record: 50 wins, 6 losses, 2 no-contests, and 44 knockouts
Famous Quotes: How dare these mortals challenge me with their primitive skills? / Im gonna make you my girlfriend. / Im gonna eat his children.
Mike Tyson was a phenomenona juggernaut force in the ring that captivated a worldwide audience. His fall from grace was as dramatic as the havoc he wreaked in the ring. There was no gray area with Tyson. Whatever he did, he did it big.
Childhood and Early Career
Tyson grew up fatherless and with a mother who was less than diligent in her child raising. Allowed to rampage on the mean streets of Brooklyn, Tyson found trouble quickly. Bullied for his crummy clothes and awkward demeanor, Tyson soon found he could resolve problems with his fists. A city worker who tried to disassemble his pigeon coup was left for dead by a young Tyson. By the time he hit double-digits in age, he was already knocking out grown men on the streets.
He fell into disfavor with the law and was sent to various juvenile facilities. Eventually, he was brought to legendary trainer Cus DAmato, who immediately pegged him as future champion. At 13, Tyson was already a heavily muscled 200 pounds and a prodigious puncher. DAmato adopted Tyson and brought him into his home. Tyson tore off the heads of all his opponents. No one his age could compete with the young dynamo.
He moved up the amateur ranks, eventually losing out on a spot for the 1984 Olympics. Everyone knew Tysons future lied in the pro ranks, where his ferocity and strength would play greater factors. At 18, he began a campaign of destruction that is rarely seen in the game. By 19, observers were already hailing him as the next great champion. Short at 511, he bobbed and weaved rapidly, jabbed his way in, and ripped bone-crushing blows to the head and body in combination with both hands. He was lightning-quick and difficult to hit. He didnt merely knock his opponents out. He removed them from the consciousness of the Earth. He simply pulverized them. Naturally, Tyson created an international stir.
Barely 20, Tyson turned Trevor Berbick into jelly to win the WBC Heavyweight Title. A 2nd-round Tyson shot felled Berbickwho dramatically attempted to rise repeatedly only to tumble back to the canvas. Tyson continued his dominance as the quality of his opposition increased. He unified the belts with wins over Bonecrusher Smith and Tony Tucker, while annihilating good fighters like Pinklon Thomas, an aging Larry Holmes, and gold medallist Tyrell Biggs. These triumphs set him up for a megafight with Linear Heavyweight Champion Michael Spinks, whom many still considered to be the real champion. Tyson ended that argument emphatically with a 91-second knockout that ranks among the most vicious and one-sided victories ever for a fight contested between 2 great fighters. It was Tysons hallmark victory.
He continued his dominance, but it soon became clear that Tyson was fraying at the edges. He soon separated himself from his old camp in what was perceived as an egregious breach of loyalty. His marriage to Robin Givens was unraveling and we began hearing bad stories about the Heavyweight Champion of the World. By the time he climbed into a Tokyo ring against Buster Douglas, he was a shell of his former self.
Fall from Grace
Despite indications to the contrary, Tysons star was still shining bright as the 80s ended. His video game, Mike Tysons Punch Out, was a huge success. He was on commercials. His name rang. During this short period in time, he was perhaps the biggest celebrity in the world. Nevertheless, the lack of focus, arrogance, and self-destructive tendencies began to rear their head to reveal a troubled young man.
No one except Buster Douglas and a few of his handlers gave the talented-but-underachieving heavyweight much of a chance. Tyson only trained a few weeks anticipating another quickie knockout. A 42-1 underdog, Douglas boxed as well as he ever did before, slamming Tyson with combinations from the first round.
It took several rounds before people could even compute what they were watchingMike Tyson being dominated. Tyson came back to floor Douglas in the 8th, but the resilient and inspired Douglas (whose mother had just passed) got off the deck and picked up where he left off. When Douglas finished Tyson in the 10th, Iron Mike was a thoroughly beaten and battered man. It is considered to be the greatest upset in boxing history.
Stripped of his invincibility, Tyson lost his greatest asset: his intimidation factor. Douglas provided the blueprint for boxers to follow. If you could soldier through some early punishment and remain resolute, Tyson would begin to gradually lose his effectiveness with each passing round. Nevertheless, Tyson still had his power. He rallied from the Douglas loss and got back on the winning track. Tyson was scheduled to fight new champion Evander Holyfield when everything came undone.
Conviction and Return
A rape conviction sent Tyson to prison for 3 years. The fall from grace appeared to be complete. To go from one of the top celebrities in the world to a prisoner in a few years was an almost unprecedented tumble from the top. Out of boxing action for 4 years, he returned in 1995. Still in his twenties, many held out hope that he would get his title back. Things seemed to be on track, as he bombed out four comeback opponents and won a few alphabet belts.
The Holyfield Saga
Tyson was a big favorite against an aging Evander Holyfield in their November 1996 bout. Holyfield had shown signs of decay in losing by knockout to Riddick Bowe and people actually feared for his safety. Therefore, it was surprising when Holyfield walked right through the best punches Tyson could throw and returned fire with the passion and fury of a prime fighting force. It wasnt even close. In the 11th round, Tyson was saved from further punishment.
The rematch was another black eye on the career of the man many thought would become the best ever. In the third round, it appeared Holyfield was still Tysons master. Tyson then inexplicably bit Holyfields ear. He appeared to get away with it before doing it again, this time tearing off a significant chunk of his ear. He was disqualified and suspended, but furthermore, had managed to turn himself into some kind of bizarre freak show. It might go down as the most surreal thing to happen in a major sporting event.
The Final Act
Tyson returned 18 months later and began racking up victories again. While more of a curiosity act, there were many of those who still fancied Tyson as a serious heavyweight. By 2002, he had done well enough to justify a title try against champion Lennox Lewis. Tyson never had a chance and was brutalized for 8 rounds before Lewis applied the coup de grace. Tyson, in an overlooked part of his overall merit, absorbed a tremendous pounding before falling. Even when he lost, it took an awful lot to finally crumble him. Tyson returned for a trio of fights over more than a 3-year period, dropping his last two bouts to the inglorious duo of Danny Williams and Kevin McBride before finally hanging them up in 2005.
Predictably, Tysons retirement has seen its share of problems. He developed a cocaine problem that eventually led to an arrest. He struggled financiallya startling fact in light of his career earnings. At one point, Tyson was apparently broke and relying on gifts from well-meaning friends.
Then something quite remarkable happened. Since his arrest, he has cleaned up his act. A documentary about his life created interest and he even appeared in the smash-hit movie The Hangover. When you see him now, he almost conveys the image of the wise former bad boy who has gained a better understanding of life. Tragedy struck the Tyson household when in May of 2009, his 4-year old daughter Exodus was found unconscious, hanging from a dangling treadmill cord. She later passed away. Tyson has struggled with this unspeakable loss. At the same time, he has lately been giving people a chance to see him in a different light, while more importantly, giving his life some order and balance.