Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson

Tyson at SXSW 2011
Real name Michael Gerard Tyson
Nickname(s) Kid Dynamite[1]
Iron Mike
The Baddest Man on the Planet
Rated at Heavyweight
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Reach 71 in (180 cm)
Nationality American
Born June 30, 1966 (1966-06-30) (age 45)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 58
Wins 50
Wins by KO 44
Losses 6
Draws 0
No contests 2

Michael Gerard "Mike" Tyson (also known as Malik Abdul Aziz) (born June 30, 1966) is a retired American boxer. Tyson is a former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles, he was 20 years, 4 months and 22 days old. Tyson won his first 19 professional bouts by knockout, with 12 of them occurring in the first round. He won the WBC title in 1986 after defeating Trevor Berbick by a TKO in the second round. In 1987, Tyson added the WBA and IBF titles after defeating James Smith and Tony Tucker. He was the first heavyweight boxer to simultaneously hold and only Heavyweight to individually unify the WBA, WBC and IBF titles.

In 1988, Tyson became the lineal champion when he knocked out Michael Spinks in the first 91 seconds of the fight. Tyson successfully defended the world heavyweight championship nine times, including victories over Larry Holmes and Frank Bruno. Tyson lost his titles to 42-to-1 underdog James "Buster" Douglas on February 11, 1990, in Tokyo, Japan, by a knockout in round 10. Tyson continued in his quest to regain the titles, defeating Donovan Ruddock twice in 1991. Tyson was then scheduled to take on the undisputed heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield but pulled out due to injury.

In 1992, Tyson was convicted of raping Desiree Washington, for which he was sentenced to six years in prison[2] but was released after serving three years. After being released from prison in 1995, he engaged in a series of comeback fights. In 1996, Tyson won the WBC and WBA titles after defeating Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon by knockout. After being stripped of the WBC title, Tyson lost his WBA crown to Evander Holyfield in November, 1996 by an 11th round TKO. Their 1997 rematch ended when Tyson was disqualified for biting off part of Holyfield's ear.

In 2002, he fought for the world heavyweight title at the age of 35, losing by knockout to Lennox Lewis. Tyson retired from professional boxing in 2006 after he was knocked out in consecutive matches against Danny Williams and Kevin McBride. Tyson declared bankruptcy in 2003, despite receiving over US$30 million for several of his fights and $300 million during his career.

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. Tyson is considered to have been one of the best heavyweight boxers of all time.[3] He is ranked No. 16 on The Ring's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.[4]


Early years

Tyson was born in Brooklyn, New York City. He has a brother, Rodney, who is five years older than he. His sister, Denise, died of a heart attack at age 25 in 1991.[5] 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.[6] The family lived in Bedford-Stuyvesant until their financial burdens necessitated a move to Brownsville when Tyson was 10 years old.[7] 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."[8]

Throughout his childhood, Tyson lived in and around high-crime neighborhoods. According to an interview in Details his first fight was with a bigger youth who had pulled the head off one of Tyson's pigeons.[9] 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.[10] 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.[6] Stewart considered Tyson to be an outstanding fighter and trained him for a few months before introducing him to Cus D'Amato.[6]

Tyson was later removed from the reform school by Cus D'Amato.[11] 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.[12] 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."[13]


Although Mike Tyson dropped out of high school as a junior and never graduated, in 1989, along with Don King, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humane letters from Central State University, in Wilberforce, Ohio by university President Arthur E. Thomas.[14]


Amateur career

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.

He fought Henry Tillman twice as an amateur losing both bouts by close decision. Tillman went on to win heavyweight Gold at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

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.[6] 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.[15] The quality of his opponents gradually increased to journeyman fighters and borderline contenders,[15] 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.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18] 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."[19]

Because of Tyson's strength, many fighters were intimidated by him.[20] This was backed up by his outstanding hand speed, accuracy, coordination, power, and timing. Tyson was also noted for his defensive abilities.[21] 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.[21] 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.

Undisputed champion

See also: Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks

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.[22] 'Tyson mania' in the media was becoming rampant.[23] He beat Pinklon Thomas in May with a knockout in the sixth round.[24] On August 1 he took the International Boxing Federation (IBF) title from Tony Tucker in a twelve round unanimous decision.[25] He became the first heavyweight to own all three major belts – WBA, WBC, and IBF – at the same time. Another fight, in October of that year, ended with a victory for Tyson over 1984 Olympics Super Heavyweight gold medalist Tyrell Biggs by knockout in the seventh round.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28]

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.[29] 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,[30] and his future contract was being fought over by Don King and Bill Cayton.[31] 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.[21] Without Rooney, Tyson's personal discipline declined.[32] 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,[33] although Tyson went on to knock out Bruno in the fifth round. Tyson then knocked out Carl "The Truth" Williams in one round in July.[34] In 1989, Tyson was granted an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Central State University in Ohio.[35]

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.[36] Tyson was a huge betting favorite, 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.[36] 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).[37] 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.[36] 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.[38]

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.[39]

After Douglas

After the loss, Tyson recovered by knocking out Henry Tillman[40] and Alex Stewart[41] 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 No.1 contender, faced No.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.[42]

Tyson and Ruddock met again on June 28 that year, with Tyson knocking down Ruddock twice and winning a 12 round unanimous decision.[43] 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 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.[44]

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. When he was cross-examined by the lead prosecutor, Gregory Garrison, Tyson denied claims that he had misled Washington and insisted 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.[45]

Tyson was convicted on the rape charge on February 10, 1992 after the jury deliberated for nearly 10 hours.[46]

Alan Dershowitz filed an appeal on Tyson's behalf alleging that the victim had a history of at least one false accusation of rape,[47] that she had offered to drop charges in return for $1 million[48][49] 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.[50]

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.[51] He was assigned to the Indiana Youth Center (now the Plainfield Correctional Facility) in April 1992,[52] and he was released in March 1995 after serving three years.[53] During his incarceration, Tyson converted to Islam.[54] On July 2, 2010 he visited Mecca to perform the Umrah (Minor Islamic pilgrimage).[55]


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.[56] 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.[57] TV Guide included the Tyson-McNeeley fight in their list of the 50 Greatest TV Sports Moments of All Time in 1998.[58]

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.[59] 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.[60]

Tyson–Holyfield fights

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 to Michael 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.[61]

On November 9, 1996, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Tyson faced Holyfield in a title bout dubbed 'Finally.' In a surprising turn of events, Holyfield, who was given virtually no chance to win by numerous commentators,[62] defeated Tyson by TKO when referee Mitch Halpern stopped the bout in round 11.[63] 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[64] during the bout. Although the headbutts were ruled accidental by the referee,[64] they would become a point of contention in the subsequent rematch.[65]

Tyson vs. Holyfield II and aftermath

Poster publicizing the June 28, 1997, Holyfield–Tyson II fight, dubbed The Sound and The Fury

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.[66] 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.[67][68] 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.[68][69]

Soon to become one of the most controversial events in modern sports,[70] the fight was stopped at the end of the third round, with Tyson disqualified[71] for biting Holyfield on both ears. The first time he bit him the match was temporarily stopped. Referee Mills 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.[72] Tyson later stated that his actions were retaliation for Holyfield repeatedly headbutting him without penalty.[65] 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.[73]

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."[74]

As a subsequent fallout from the incident, US$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).[75] Two days after the fight, Tyson issued a statement,[76] apologizing to Holyfield for his actions and asked not to be banned for life over the incident.[77] 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.[78]

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.[79] 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.[80]

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.[81]

1999 to 2005

After Holyfield

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.[82]

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.[83] He served nine months of that sentence. After his release, he fought Orlin 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.[84]

"I'm the best ever. I'm the most brutal and vicious, the most ruthless champion there has ever been. No one can stop me. Lennox is a conqueror? No! I'm Alexander! He's no Alexander! I'm the best ever. There’s never been anyone as ruthless as me. I'm Sonny Liston. I'm Jack Dempsey. There's no one like me. I'm from their cloth. There is no one who can match me. My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I'm just ferocious. I want his heart! I want to eat his children! Praise be to Allah!"

Tyson's post fight interview after knocking out Lou Savarese 38 seconds into the bout in June 2000.[85]

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.[86] 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.[87] In October, Tyson fought the similarly controversial Andrzej Gołota,[88] 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.[89] Tyson fought only once in 2001, beating Brian Nielsen in Copenhagen with a seventh round TKO.[90]

Lewis vs. Tyson

The Lewis-Tyson fight that took place on June 8, 2002, was one of the most anticipated heavyweight fights in years.

Tyson once again had the opportunity to fight for a heavyweight championship in 2002, against Lennox Lewis, who held the WBC, IBF and IBO titles 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.[91] 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.[92]

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 your children."[93] 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.[94] 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.[95] 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.[68][69]

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.[96] This would be Tyson's final professional victory in the ring.

In August 2003, after years of financial struggles, Tyson finally filed for bankruptcy.[97] 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.[98] 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.[99] 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.[100]

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."[101]

Exhibition tour

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.[102] 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".[103]


A 1998 ranking of "The Greatest Heavyweights of All-Time" by Ring magazine placed Tyson at No.14 on the list.[104]

In Ring Magazine's list of the 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years, released in 2002, Tyson was ranked at No. 72. He is ranked No. 16 on Ring Magazine's 2003 list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.

After professional boxing

Tyson in the ring at Las Vegas in October 2006

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."[105] Tyson began to spend much of his time tending to his 350 pigeons in Paradise Valley, an upscale enclave near Phoenix, Arizona.[106]

Tyson has stayed in the limelight by promoting various websites and companies.[107] In the past Tyson had shunned endorsements, accusing other athletes of putting on a false front to obtain them.[108] He has also done entertainment boxing shows at a casino in Las Vegas[109] and started a tour of exhibition bouts to pay off his numerous debts.[110]

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."[111] 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.[112]

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.[113]

On November 11, 2009, Mike Tyson was arrested after getting into a scuffle at Los Angeles International airport with a photographer.[114] No charges were filed.

Tyson appeared on WWE Monday Night Raw as the guest host on January 11, 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.[115]

On June 12, 2011, Tyson was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, alongside legendary Mexican champion Julio César Chávez, light welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu, and actor/screenwriter Sylvester Stallone.[116]

On August 7, 2011, CBS aired an episode of The Same Name, featuring Mike Tyson.[117]

Personal life

Tyson has been legally married three times and he had eight children with several different women.

His first marriage was to actress Robin Givens from February 7, 1988 to February 14, 1989.[30] 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.[118] 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."[119] Givens also described Tyson as "manic depressive" on national television while Tyson looked on with an intent and calm expression.[118] A month later, Givens announced that she was seeking a divorce from the allegedly abusive Tyson.[118] 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.[118][120] During their marriage, the couple lived in a mansion in Bernardsville, New Jersey.[121][122]

His second marriage was to Monica Turner from April 19, 1997 to January 14, 2003.[123] At the time of the divorce filing, Turner worked as a pediatric resident at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC.[124] She is also the sister of Michael Steele, the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and former Republican National Committee Chairman.[125] 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."[124] 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.[126][127] 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.[128] Spicer was a resident of nearby suburban Henderson, Nevada. 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 and son, Morocco. His other children include Mikey (born 1990), Miguel (born 2002) and D'Amato (born 1990). He has a total of eight children including the deceased Exodus.

While on the American talk show The View in early May 2010, Tyson revealed that he is now forced to live paycheck to paycheck.[129] 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 (losing his money) 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 March 2011, Tyson appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss his new Animal Planet reality series Taking on Tyson. In the interview with DeGeneres, Tyson discussed some of the ways he had improved his life in the past two years, including sober living and a vegan diet.[130]

Also, in March 2011, Mike Tyson appeared at the SXSW Screenburn Arcade for the launch of his new iPhone app Mike Tyson: Main Event.[131]

In May 2011, Tyson sent an autographed boxing gloves to soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. 'To Cristiano' is what written on the gloves, along with Tyson's signature.[132]

Also, in May 2011, Tyson was a contestant in the argentinian dance contest Bailando 2011, and he was paired with his wife, Lahika Spicer. The couple withdrew from the competition after the second round.

In September 2011, Tyson gave an interview in which he made comments about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin that included crude and violent descriptions of interracial sex. These comments were then reprinted on the Daily Caller website. Journalist Greta van Susteren criticized Tyson and the Daily Caller over the comments, which she described as "smut" and "violence against women". [133]

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.[134] As such, Tyson has appeared in myriad popular media in cameo appearances in film and television. 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[135]
Result Record Opponnent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss 50–6
2 NC
Republic of Ireland Kevin McBride TKO 6 (10) 2005-06-11 United States MCI Center, Washington, D.C.
Loss 50–5
2 NC
United Kingdom Danny Williams KO 4 (10) 2004-07-30 United States Freedom Hall State Fairground, Louisville, Kentucky
Win 50–4
2 NC
United States Clifford Etienne KO 1 (10) 2003-02-22 United States The Pyramid, Memphis, Tennessee
Loss 49–4
2 NC
United Kingdom Lennox Lewis KO 8 (12) 2002-06-08 United States The Pyramid, Memphis, Tennessee For The Ring, WBC & IBF World Heavyweight titles.
The Ring Magazine Knockout of the Year.
Win 49–3
2 NC
Denmark Brian Nielsen RTD 7 (10) 2001-10-13 Denmark Parken Stadium, Copenhagen
NC 48–3
2 NC
Poland Andrew Golota NC 3 (10) 2000-10-20 United States The Palace, Auburn Hills, Michigan Michigan Commission changes the result from a TKO victory
for Tyson to an NC, due to Tyson testing positive for Cannabis after the fight.
Win 48–3
1 NC
United States Lou Savarese TKO 1 (10) 2000-06-24 Scotland Hampden Park, Glasgow
Win 47–3
1 NC
United Kingdom Julius Francis TKO 2 (10) 2000-01-29 England M.E.N. Arena, Manchester
NC 46–3
1 NC
United States Orlin Norris NC 1 (10) 1999-10-23 United States MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada Norris was hit and knocked down after the bell, injuring his knee in the fall, resulting in NC.
Win 46–3 South Africa Francois Botha KO 5 (10) 1999-01-16 United States MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Loss 45–3 United States Evander Holyfield DQ 3 (12) 1997-06-28 United States MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada For WBA Heavyweight title.
The Ring Magazine Event of the Year.
Loss 45–2 United States Evander Holyfield TKO 11 (12) 1996-11-09 United States MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada Lost WBA World Heavyweight title.
The Ring Magazine Fight of the Year & Upset Of The Year.
Win 45–1 United States Bruce Seldon TKO 1 (12) 1996-09-07 United States MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada Won WBA World Heavyweight title.
Win 44–1 United Kingdom Frank Bruno TKO 3 (12) 1996-03-16 United States MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada Won WBC World Heavyweight title.
Win 43–1 United States Buster Mathis, Jr. KO 3 (12) 1995-12-16 United States Core States Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Win 42–1 United States Peter McNeeley DQ 1 (10) 1995-08-19 United States MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 41–1 Canada Donovan Ruddock UD 12 1991-06-28 United States Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 40–1 Canada Donovan Ruddock TKO 7 (12) 1991-03-18 United States Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 39–1 United Kingdom Alex Stewart TKO 1 (10) 1990-12-08 United States Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 38–1 United States Henry Tillman KO 1 (10) 1990-06-16 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
Loss 37–1 United States Buster Douglas KO 10 (12) 1990-02-11 Japan Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Lost The Ring, WBC, WBA & IBF World Heavyweight titles.
The Ring Magazine Upset Of The Year.
Win 37–0 United States Carl Williams TKO 1 (12) 1989-07-21 United States Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey Retained The Ring, WBC, WBA & IBF World Heavyweight titles.
Win 36–0 United Kingdom Frank Bruno TKO 5 (12) 1989-02-25 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada Retained The Ring, WBC, WBA & IBF World Heavyweight titles.
Win 35–0 United States Michael Spinks KO 1 (12) 1988-06-27 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey Retained WBC, WBA, IBF & won The Ring World Heavyweight titles.
Win 34–0 United States Tony Tubbs TKO 2 (12) 1988-03-21 Japan Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Retained WBC, WBA & IBF World Heavyweight titles.
Win 33–0 United States Larry Holmes TKO 4 (12) 1988-01-22 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey Retained WBC, WBA & IBF World Heavyweight titles.
Win 32–0 United States Tyrell Biggs TKO 7 (12) 1987-10-16 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey Retained WBC, WBA & IBF World Heavyweight titles.
Win 31–0 United States Tony Tucker UD 12 1987-08-01 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada Retained WBC, WBA & won IBF World Heavyweight titles.
Win 30–0 United States Pinklon Thomas TKO 6 (12) 1987-05-30 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada Retained WBC & WBA World Heavyweight titles.
Win 29–0 United States James Smith UD 12 1987-03-07 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada Retained WBC & won WBA World Heavyweight titles.
Win 28–0 Canada Trevor Berbick TKO 2 (12) 1986-11-22 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada Won WBC World Heavyweight title.
Win 27–0 United States Alfonso Ratliff TKO 2 (10) 1986-09-06 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 26–0 Cuba José Ribalta TKO 10 (10) 1986-08-17 United States Trump Plaza Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 25–0 United States Marvis Frazier KO 1 (10) 1986-07-26 United States Civic Center, Glens Falls, New York
Win 24–0 United States Lorenzo Boyd KO 2 (10) 1986-07-11 United States Stevensville Hotel, Swan Lake, New York
Win 23–0 United States William Hosea KO 1 (10) 1986-06-28 United States Houston Field House, Troy, New York
Win 22–0 United States Reggie Gross TKO 1 (10) 1986-06-13 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 21–0 United States Mitch Green UD 10 1986-05-20 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 20–0 United States James Tillis UD 10 1986-05-09 United States Civic Center, Glens Falls, New York
Win 19–0 United States Steve Zouski KO 3 (10) 1986-03-10 United States Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
Win 18–0 United States Jesse Ferguson TKO 6 (10) 1986-02-16 United States Houston Field House, Troy, New York
Win 17–0 United States Mike Jameson TKO 5 (8) 1986-01-24 United States Trump Plaza Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 16–0 United States David Jaco TKO 1 (10) 1986-01-11 United States Plaza Convention Center, Albany, New York
Win 15–0 United States Mark Young TKO 1 (10) 1985-12-27 United States Latham Coliseum, Latham, New York
Win 14–0 United States Sammy Scaff TKO 1 (10) 1985-12-06 United States Felt Forum, New York, New York
Win 13–0 Canada Conroy Nelson TKO 2 (8) 1985-11-22 United States Latham Coliseum, Latham, New York
Win 12–0 United States Eddie Richardson KO 1 (8) 1985-11-13 United States Ramada-Houston Hotel, Houston, Texas
Win 11–0 Trinidad and Tobago Sterling Benjamin TKO 1 (8) 1985-11-01 United States Latham Coliseum, Latham, New York
Win 10–0 United States Robert Colay KO 1 (8) 1985-10-25 United States Atlantis Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 9–0 United States Donnie Long TKO 1 (6) 1985-10-09 United States Trump Casino Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 8–0 United States Michael Johnson KO 1 6) 1985-09-05 United States Atlantis Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 7–0 United States Lorenzo Canady KO 1 (6) 1985-08-15 United States Resorts International, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 6–0 United States Larry Sims KO 3 (6) 1985-07-19 United States Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie, New York
Win 5–0 United States John Alderson TKO 2 (6) 1985-07-11 United States Trump Casino Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 4–0 United States Ricardo Spain TKO 1 (6) 1985-06-20 United States Resorts International, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 3–0 United States Don Halpin KO 4 (4) 1985-05-23 United States Albany, New York
Win 2–0 United States Trent Singleton TKO 1 (4) 1985-04-10 United States Albany, New York
Win 1–0 Puerto Rico Hector Mercedes TKO 1 (4) 1985-03-06 United States Plaza Convention Center, Albany, New York Tyson's professional debut.

Boxing championships and accomplishments

Tyson established an impressive list of accomplishments, mostly early in his career:[136]


  • 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–September 24, 1996 (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



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External links

Preceded by
Marvin Hagler
& Donald Curry
Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year
Succeeded by
Evander Holyfield
Preceded by
Evander Holyfield
Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year
Succeeded by
Pernell Whitaker
Preceded by
Michael Spinks
The Ring Heavyweight Champion
June 27, 1988 – February 11, 1990
Succeeded by
Buster Douglas
Preceded by
Trevor Berbick
WBC Heavyweight Champion
November 22, 1986 – February 11, 1990
Succeeded by
Buster Douglas
Preceded by
James Smith
WBA Heavyweight Champion
March 7, 1987 – February 11, 1990
Preceded by
Tony Tucker
IBF Heavyweight Champion
August 1, 1987 – February 11, 1990
Title last held by
Leon Spinks
Undisputed Heavyweight Champion
August 1, 1987 – February 11, 1990
Preceded by
Frank Bruno
WBC Heavyweight Champion
March 16, 1996 – September 24, 1996
Title next held by
Lennox Lewis
Preceded by
Bruce Seldon
WBA Heavyweight Champion
September 7, 1996 – November 9, 1996
Succeeded by
Evander Holyfield

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