Legends Profile: Mike Tyson
01 December 2016

Legends Profile: Mike Tyson

Many of the world’s greatest boxers are larger-than-life characters, known as much for their prowess in the ring as they are for their antics outside. But it’s safe to say that Mike Tyson’s career pushes this notion to the extreme. Regardless of what you think about his character, there’s no question that Tyson thrives on his own notoriety. And his peek-a-boo boxing-style exploits include some truly phenomenal moments.


Tyson’s career was characterised by extreme highs and lows. He went from heavyweight champion to convicted rapist, from rising star to gruesomely sore loser. But across all that time, he’s managed to keep his persona in the spotlight.


So with no further ado, let’s take a brief look at the life, achievements and crimes of this self-styled boxer.


From Troubled Teen to Aspiring Boxer

Tyson was born in Brooklyn, New York City in 1966. Brooklyn was a notoriously dangerous place in those days, and Tyson was already working on his own style of street fighting at an alarmingly early age. By 11, he had joined the Jolly Stompers gang, and his job was to clean out cash registers during robberies. He had already been arrested more than 30 times by the age of 13.


All of this violent criminal behaviour landed him in reform school, where he met his first boxing coach. Bob Stewart was once an amateur boxing champion, and he reluctantly took this troubled teen under his wing. By the time Tyson was 14, Stewart believed he had nothing left to teach him. He introduced Tyson to Constantine D’Amato – a legendary boxing coach who assumed full legal custody of Tyson and became as much a father figure as he was a coach.   


World’s Youngest Heavyweight Champion

After a series of heart-breaking losses (including the loss of his mother to cancer and failure to make the Olympic boxing team), Tyson went on to become the world’s youngest-ever heavyweight champion on the professional circuit. He was only 20 years old, and he defended that title several times before his fall from grace.


From Champion to Felon: The Fall of Mike Tyson

Tyson’s in-ring prestige was short-lived. It became obvious that the only way he could consistently win matches was with his signature, one-punch knockout – and it didn’t always work. He was brought up on charges of domestic violence and broke his hand in a 4 a.m. street brawl. Then in 1992, he was convicted of raping Desiree Washington, a Miss Black American contestant.


After serving time, Tyson seemed committed to making a comeback. He won several matches before losing to heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. In a record-breaking televised rematch, Tyson shocked the world by grabbing Holyfield by the head and biting part of his ear off.


Needless to say, Tyson was barred from ever fighting again due to that gruesome move. But even today, he’s still committed to staying in the limelight. You’ll find him in movies, on television and even giggling through his own comedy roast. And as the New Yorker points out, his bizarre one-man show on Broadway is a painful reminder that Tyson has always been his own greatest adversary.

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