On June 30, 1966 the one and only Mike Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs) was born. He was raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn and had a very difficult life up until he was a teenager. A man known by all but also a story that many have different views on. My view sees a story with four intervals. These intervals break down one of the most interesting stories you will ever hear in a sports icon’s life. Iron Mike’s story began like many others in the early years, but the details are much different. These beginnings help shape the prime years and how he was able to mould himself into a heavyweight champion. All good things come to an end in the third interval where we see the downfall of Mike Tyson and how a champions world can come crashing down. Finally, we see a revisioning and rebuilding of a man’s legacy that will withstand time.
According to reports Tyson had been arrested around 38 times by the time he was thirteen. At this point he was sent to a boy’s school in Johnstown, New York. It was here that his life changed forever when Bobby Stewart introduced him to Cus D’Amato and a rigorous training schedule was immediately set. The pure power and strength paired with the technical basis of D’Amato was a match made in heaven. Tyson used the peek-a-boo style from this point forward and it is of true beauty to see. Iron Mike attended high school but never finished and left as a junior. It was at this moment Tyson fully pursued his boxing career. In 1981, he won his first gold medal by defeating Joe Cortez and then again in 1982 he beat Kelton Brown. At 16 his mother died, and D’Amato became his legal guardian and mentor. They trained at the Catskill Boxing Club and at the age of 18 Mike Tyson made his professional debut.
Some hit their prime later in their career, while others have a very early prime. Tyson was one of those exceptions, and his pure abilities were on full display from the start. His professional debut took place in March 1985 by TKO. After this during a 20-month period Tyson fought 26 more times before he was granted a title shot at the age of 20. He won 25 of those first 27 fight by knockout and his first title shot was no different. Tyson won by second round knockout against Trevor Berbick (49-11-1) in November of 1986. This made him the youngest heavyweight champion in history at the age of 20. Unfortunately, D’Amato was not able to see Tyson raise the belt as he passed away one year prior. By 1987 Tyson was able to unify the heavyweight division by winning both the IBF and WBA to hold along with the WBC title. Over the next three years he was able to defend his title successfully 9 times. With fame, fortune, and heavyweight titles in hand, the baddest man on the planet was on a path to disaster as he began a spiral to his ultimate downfall.
It was January 1990 when Mike Tyson landed in Tokyo, Japan. He at this point, wanted nothing to do with the Buster Douglas (37-6-1) fight. Tyson heavily overlooked Douglas and decided to not watch any of his previous fights on tape, as he had already knocked those opponents out. Tyson came to Tokyo 30 pounds overweight and still Douglas was a 42-1 underdog. After being battered for multiple rounds and a completely swollen eye, Douglas knocked Tyson out in the tenth round. To many, this is known as one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Just one year later he was sent to prison in which he served three years and three more years on probation. Iron Mike was able to make a comeback after being released and won back the WBC and WBA titles in 1996. However, Tyson was stripped of the WBC title and then lost the WBA title to Evander Holyfield (44-10-2) in November of 1997. The infamous ear bite took place in the Holyfield rematch and Tyson was disqualified from the bout. Mike Tyson is one of the few men to ever regain a heavyweight championship after losing it. However, he lost three of his last four fights between 2002-2005. The baddest man on the planet retired from the sport of boxing in 2006 with a one-of-a-kind story. But in a world full of surprises, the story doesn’t end here.
In 2020 a year full of many ups and downs, Mike Tyson was able to reinvent himself. He went vegan, lost over 100lbs, and got back to training. As a 54-year-old man he was able to prepare himself for what no one saw coming. A comeback fight and against Roy Jones Jr. at that. Tyson showed tremendous grit and still possessed some pure power in his training videos. He was able to show many that he really is a different man than when he retired so many years ago. Although it was just an exhibition fight, the fact he was able to get back in the ring the way he did, is just incredible. Talks are continuing on whether we will get the trilogy with Holyfield or not, but rumours of $200 million dollars being on the table if the fight does take place. It seems like we may get one more chance to see one of the most iconic fighters back in the ring in 2021. If so, then take the time to appreciate a man that built his legacy, tore it apart and stripped it down to virtually nothing, and then recreated a new legacy that will live on forever.
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