The hype that surrounds Mike Tyson with relation to his celebrity life, one can often forget the fact that, in his 20’s, he was a boxing force to be reckoned with and that Tyson holds the record as the youngest heavyweight champion for titles in the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation, holding all of these titles simultaneously at one point. Yep, he’s not all face tattoos and tigers.
Before Mike Tyson became the larger than life character that he is currently portrayed as in the media, he was Iron Mike, taking down fighter after fighter like dominos in the ring. He created a persona of intimidation and brutality and, in his fighting style, he lived up to reputation with aplomb.
Over two decades, he was virtually undefeatable, laying knocked out contenders in his wake over a variety of weight classes and the odds men where champing at the bit to set up the wagers for whomever might have the courage to take him on next.
Born in Brooklyn as Percell Tyson, he was raised in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighbourhood by his single mother along with his two siblings. She died when Tyson was only sixteen years old and his eventual guardian was boxing trainer Costantino D’Amato. He grew up fighting in the streets of his rough neighbourhoods, often defending himself against taunts about the lilt of his voice along with his thick lisp. By the time he became a professional fighter, Tyson had racked up a rap sheets with multiple pretty crimes, which led him into the juvenile detention centre where he began to train as a boxer in earnest under the direction of one of the counsellors. His story and the past that led up to his professional career is indeed as, if not more, fascinating than his prowess in the ring.
In Tyson’s first whack at the title, he grabbed it in two brief but punishing rounds against Trevor Berbick at a mere 20 years old. He went undefeated for the next six years, smacking down anyone that met him in the ring. Ironically, he is more strongly remembered for the battles he lost against Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield, the latter in particular. In his fight with Holyfield, the referee had to stop the fight when Tyson bit his opponent, not once but twice, disqualifying him from the match. By the end of the bout, the arena had erupted into a riotous brawl where several people were injured.
Controversy and drama followed Tyson both in and out of the ring with three marriages, the first two riddled with allegations of spousal violence and adultery, substance abuse and mental disorders. He spent many years plastered across the tabloids for his exploits beyond boxing. Tyson has worked hard to overcome his bad boy reputation and to create a public persona more recognized for his accomplishments and ventures. He is featured in video games and graphic novels and in continuously making cameo appearances in television and feature films and even a few other stints as an actor in more recent years. While much of that continues to create a buzz around the man and his intimidating image has not completely dissolved, there is no disputing that his greatest achievements were those that occurred in the ring.
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