Mike Tyson is a professional boxer who became the youngest heavyweight champion in 1986 when he was only 20 years old. His life story is filled with both success and failure from every point of view, and he has been the subject of many controversies, but if you want to match his incredible performance in the ring, you can always try out a Wavemaster punching bag.
The early years
One can say many things about Mike Tyson, but his impact on boxing as a sport and his popularity cannot be denied. The athlete was born in 1966 in Brooklyn, and his childhood was not the easiest one. His father abandoned his family when Mike Tyson was only 2 years old, and he remained with his mother and two siblings.
Due to financial issues, the family moved to Brownsville, a neighborhood known for a high crime rate, which did not really work well for the shy and small Tyson at that time. He was often bullied, and in order to overcome this, the athlete started developing his street fighting skills, working even on a personal style. However, this quickly turned into criminal activity.
Those years of his life were filled with stories that some might find appalling, namely robbing stores and joining gangs that held the victims at gunpoint. By the age of 13, he had already been arrested multiple times, and this led to Tyson going to a reform school located in upstate New York.
That’s where the athlete met Bob Stewart, a counselor who had been involved in boxing, being himself an amateur champion. That’s when young Tyson became really interested in boxing and even managed to get his grades up in a matter of months only to have Stewart teach him how to throw punches and box.
His boxing manager
By 1980, Tyson had learned everything he could from Bob Stewart, and that’s when the counselor introduced him to a legendary boxing manager, very well-known at the time, namely Constantine D’Amato (Cus D’Amato). He had a gym located in Catskill, New York and a great eye for very promising athletes and fighters.
He was the one who told Tyson that if he stayed and listened, he could be a heavyweight champion in the future. The relationship between the two was much more than one between a trainer and a boxer, it was more like one between father and son. When Tyson was paroled in 1980, D’Amato took him into full-custody and set a rigorous training and studying schedule.
Even though things were certainly looking up for the young boxer, unfortunately, they took a turn in 1982 when Tyson’s mother died. He would later state in interviews that his mother never had the chance to be proud of him and see him being successful, which was a tremendous emotional burden.
It was around this time as well that Tyson got expelled for his erratic behavior from Catskill High, as the fact that he was often violent did not help his situation. His education continued with private tutors, while he also trained for a major competition, the 1984 Olympic trials. Unfortunately, he lost then to Henry Tillman, an eventual gold medalist.
That’s when D’Amato decided that for Tyson it was time to turn professional, and he created a plan to get the fighter to be the new heavyweight champion before reaching his 21st birthday. This means that the original record held by Floyd Patterson was going to be broken, and that’s exactly what happened.
Tyson’s boxing career
With a total of 58 fights in the professional career, you can safely say that Tyson has a pretty impressive record. He won 50 of these fights, out of which 44 were by knockout, and he officially lost 6 of them, as two were categorized as no-contest. His professional career began in Albany, New York, in 1985, when Tyson was 18 years old, in a fight against Hector Mercedes.
It only took one round for the fighter to secure his victory, which also led to the new nickname “Iron Mike”. Even though that was a successful year for the athlete, it was another difficult one from an emotional point of view. It was in 1985 that D’Amato died of pneumonia, which meant that, once again, Tyson had to deal with the loss of a loved one.
Given that special father-and-son-like relationship between the two, Tyson was rocked but he did continue on the path that D’Amato laid out for him, and worked his way toward the heavyweight champion title. Even though at the time Tyson seemed to be handling this loss well, those close to him stated at various times that he never fully recovered.
This might also explain some of the later behavior, but at the time, by age 20, Tyson managed to gain a 22-0 record, out of which 21 fights were won by knockout. In 1986, he gained the heavyweight championship title, and became the youngest boxer in the world to do this, by winning the fight against Trevor Berbick. After this, his success continued, as he also defended his title.
In 1987, he fought against James Smith and kept his title, and in the same year in August, he became the first heavyweight boxer to have all three major belts. Tyson maintained his winning streak for the next few years, defending his title against other boxers such as Frank Bruno and Carl “The Truth” Williams.
However, this stopped in 1990, when Buster Douglas won the championship belt from Tyson in Tokyo, Japan. After a long match in which Tyson was the clear favorite, Douglas made a comeback in the tenth round and knocked out the famous boxer for the first time in his entire career.
Even though Tyson was discouraged, he was not ready to give up yet, and he worked to recover by knocking out Henry Tillman, the Olympic gold medalist, during the same year. He also won the fight against Alex Stewart, also by knockout, but eventually, Tyson’s behavior outside the ring caught up with him.
Drawbacks and the Holyfield fight
After nearly a year of court hearings and trial proceedings, Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison, effective right away, on account of rape and deviant sexual conduct. Even though he began his imprisonment poorly, by threatening a guard, he stayed there for another three years.
During the first year, his father also died, but Tyson didn’t request permission to attend the funeral. It was during this time that he also converted to Islam. The boxer was released in 1995, and he started planning his comeback right away. The first fight, one against Peter McNeeley in Nevada, was won by knockout in as little as 89 seconds.
The same went for the next match, which was against Buster Mathis, who was knocked out during the third round. All of these fights were leading toward a positive change and eventually, Tyson met his next challenge, namely Evander Holyfield. This promising fighter wanted a title shot against Tyson in 1990, but it was Douglas who defeated him back then.
Then Holyfield won the title from Douglas by knockout, which made him the new and undefeated world heavyweight champion. Then, in 1996, Holyfield finally got the chance to fight Tyson, just as it was meant before Douglas won the title first. Unfortunately for Tyson, the night did not bring good results, as he lost by a knockout to Holyfield, in the 11th round.
Holyfield, on the other hand, made history that night by winning the belt three times and being the second person to do so. Tyson vowed to get his revenge, claiming that Holyfield used head butts during the match. The rematch was scheduled a year later, in 1997, and it was one of the most-watched fights at the time, with almost 2 million households entering the network.
While the first two rounds were the regular people-pleasing ones, things took a very unexpected turn in the third one, when Tyson bit Holyfield’s ears as retaliation for the head butts in the previous fight. Of course, Tyson was disqualified from the match, and in July 1997, his boxing license was revoked and the boxer also had to pay a fine of $3 million for his actions.
Not being able to fight anymore, Tyson was aimless, and he was also ordered to pay another fine to boxer Mitch Green for a street-fighting incident that took place in 1988.
Fortunately, he eventually managed to get his life back on track and is now an entrepreneur managing several business ventures.