Mike Tyson was perhaps the most popular athlete on the planet in the second half of the 1980s. He could sell out halls and sports arenas, collected unimaginable sums of money for his matches and was undefeated among professionals until his 38th match. Until then, the whole world, including the large crowd of women, was at his feet. Nevertheless, when he announced in 2005 that he was definitely quitting his professional boxing career, people had already known him already under the nickname “The Baddest Man on the Planet”. What was behind the rocket start and consequently the steep fall of one of the greatest boxing legends?
A bad boy who was learning respect and esteem
Michael Gerrard Tyson was born in 1966 in Brooklyn, New York. His entire childhood was marked by poverty and membership in dangerous gangs in New York’s most populous neighbourhood. He even spent part of his youth in custody for juveniles, for example, before he even turned 13, police arrested him almost 40 times. At the age of 16, his mother died, he hardly knew his father, so the boxing coach “Cus” D ‘Amato took him into his care. According to his own words, he began to teach him respect and esteem, which was the best thing which could have possibly happened to him. From that moment on, his life started to look like a real Hollywood movie.
In boxing, he began to collect one success after another. After two victories at the Junior Olympics, he also won all 15 matches in the professional ring. But just as the stories in Hollywood movies get twisted at their best, the same happened in Tyson’s life. “Cus” D ‘Amato died, and Mike lost the most respected person in his life, which many today attribute to his later tempestuous escapades. However, he still managed to clean it up in his head for the most important match in his professional career.
The youngest holder of a heavyweight belt in history
He was exactly 20 years and 145 days old when he entered the ring of a crowded arena in Las Vegas. The calm expression on his face did not reflect at all that by winning this fight he could definitely become a member of the boxing Olympus. It seemed as if he didn’t even realize the importance of it. Then Trevor Berbick, a much taller, heavier and most importantly much more experienced Jamaican boxer, entered the ring. From the first seconds of the match, Tyson managed to break the opponent’s resistance in an absolutely dominant way, knockout in the second round, and thanks to the victory, he became the youngest holder of a heavyweight belt in history. And it is unlikely that this historical record will be beaten by anyone.
Experts then began to notice his unusual tactic called Peek-a-boo. It consisted mainly of swaying on his feet and precise defence with consistent covering of his face. His favourite combination was the right hook, which first hit the opponent’s body and then immediately his chin. In addition to his low height (178 cm), he was recognizable by his explosiveness, excellent speed and timing of his hits.
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Later on, he gained a couple of titles from other associations, and until now, he is the only boxer to own belts from the WBA, WBC and IBW at the same time. Other victories, including the one against Spinks, for which Tyson collected an unprecedented $22 million, have always gone the same way. In the ring, he seemed just invincible.
Problems inside and outside the ring
At this point, the fame partially broke him. He started to have problems both inside and outside of the ring. He trained less, and even though he was used to going through even 10 matches a year, at the very beginning of the 1990s, he slowed down. Despite the fact that as a huge fans’ favourite, he shockingly lost a fight with Buster Douglas and for the first time in his career he was not only defeated, but even knocked out and sent to the ground. It was one of the biggest surprises in boxing history.
From there, Tyson’s stagnation was becoming more and more apparent. He was convicted of rape, consequently served a three-year sentence in prison and started to have problems with alcohol and drugs. After returning from the correctional facility, he continued his career. In the second consecutive match with the dreaded Evander Holyfield, the most epic and at the same time the most bizarre moment in the whole of boxing history took place, which also caused his reputation to drop to the very bottom. Mike Tyson, whose psyche was already broken at this point, bit his opponent’s ear twice, for which he was, of course, disqualified, and his professional boxer’s licence was revoked for a year and a half.
All that remained of the good old Tyson was a faint shadow. After financial vicissitudes, he declared bankruptcy, and in 2005, after the third loss from the last four fights, he ended his rich career in the boxing ring. To consolidate all his debts, he has tried more than enough since then; wrote an autobiography, performed in Hollywood, became the face of a car service company, but also his selfless activities are worth mentioning, such as founding a charity to help abandoned children or a recent charity match from November 2020.
Today, Mike Tyson has seven children with three different women, and, along with other things, he makes a living by selling his own merchandise on miketyson.com. He is also active on Facebook and Instagram, where he is followed by more than 35 million people to date.
Do you think we’ll ever see Mike Tyson in the ring again? Share your opinion in the comments. And if you liked the article about a man of many faces and a boxing icon of two decades, share it among your friends. Let as many people as possible get to know him just a little better.
 Mike Tyson Biography – https://www.biography.com/athlete/mike-tyson
 Mike Thomas – Who Was Cus D’Amato and Why Did Mike Tyson Respect Him so Much? – https://www.sportscasting.com/who-was-cus-damato-and-why-did-mike-tyson-respect-him-so-much/
 Paul Conolly – Boxing: Mike Tyson was arrested 38 times before he turned 13 – https://www.givemesport.com/1637949-boxing-mike-tyson-was-arrested-38-times-before-he-turned-13
 Daniel Sandford – Mike Tyson destroyed Trevor Berbick to become the youngest world heavyweight boxing champion – now he has the chance to relive glory nights in Roy Jones Jr fight – https://www.givemesport.com/1637949-boxing-mike-tyson-was-arrested-38-times-before-he-turned-13
 The Many Scandals of Mike Tyson – https://roundbyroundboxing.com/the-many-scandals-of-mike-tyson/
 J.L. Seto – How a Bankrupt Mike Tyson Made Millions the Second Time Around – https://www.sportscasting.com/how-a-bankrupt-mike-tyson-made-millions-the-second-time-around/