Mike Tyson, The Greatest Boxer – From Streets to Stardom

Michael Gerard Tyson aka Mike Tyson, a former American heavyweight boxing champion, was born on June 30, 1966. Tyson was the youngest professional boxer to win the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation titles. His reign (1985-2005) was controversial yet highly successful, having a record of 50 wins (44 knock-outs), 6 losses and 2 no-contests out of total 58 fights in his professional career.

Winning a title of youngest heavyweight boxer at the age of 20, Tyson currently ranks 15th in BoxRec’s ranking of  the greatest heavyweight boxers in history, 16th on The Ring’s list of top 100 greatest punchers of all time and of course 1st in the ESPN.com list of ‘The Highest Hitters In Heavyweight History’. Tyson has been given the nicknames of ‘Iron’, ‘Kid Dynamite’ and ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ due to his ferociousness in his early life as well as professional career.

Mike Tyson.

Tyson’s Life Before Stardom

Tyson opened his eyes in Brooklyn, New York, son of Jimmy Kirkpatrick and Lorna Smith Tyson. By the age of two, Tyson’s father abandoned him and his family. Consequently surrendered to the financial crises, his family had to move to Brownsville when Tyson was ten.

Tyson’s early years were spent in high-crime neighborhood and he was engaged into the art of crime and street fights at a very early age. He had been arrested 38 times when he was only 13, knocking out grown men and indulging himself into petty crimes like a daily routine. Tyson’s phenomenal boxing skills were first recognized by a boxing counselor who introduced him to the legendary trainer named Cus D’Amato.

Tyson was only 16 when his mother drew her last breath, leaving Tyson in the care of boxing manager and trainer Cus D’Amato, who then acted as his legal Guardian. His mother’s departure left a permanent mark upon his personality and life which Tyson discussed later in an interview:

“I never saw my mother happy with me and proud of me for doing something. She only knew me as being a wild kid running the streets, coming home with new clothes that she knew I didn’t pay for. I never got a chance to talk to her or know about her. Professionally, it has no effect, buts it’s crushing emotionally and personally”

Tyson never got to complete his high school as he was busy in practicing boxing in the ring. Mike Tyson later emerged as world’s youngest heavyweight boxing champion (200 pounds and more).

The Start of Tyson’s Career

Tyson stepped into competitions by 1981, winning the Junior Olympic Championship Gold Medals against Joe Cortez and then Kelton Brown in 1982. Talking about the beginning of Tyson’s real professional career, the 19-year-old knocked out Hector Mercedes in the first round in the year 1985. The following year proved highly successful yet full of tragedies for Tyson. Cus D’Amato (his trainer) died of pneumonia. His death hit Tyson real hard as he considered D’Amato as his spiritual father. Some of the sources claim that the boxer never fully recovered from D’Amato’s death, yet after almost two weeks, Tyson carried on to the path that D’Amato had laid out for him. Kevin Rooney, one of the big names among boxing trainers, took over D’Amato’s coaching duties for Tyson.  

With the passage of time, the fighter got more ferocious inside and outside the ring that many of his opponents were terrified by him. He was given nicknames of “Iron” and “Kid Dynamite”. His “peek-a-boo” styled boxing (which he learned from the legendary trainer, Cus D’Amato) made him stay in the spotlight for quite a long period of time.

Youngest Heavyweight Champion on a role

The 20-year-old (nicknamed ‘Iron Mike’) became the youngest heavyweight champion in 1986, due to his strength, exceptional high speed, coordination, accuracy, timing and uncommon defensive abilities. Tyson beat Floyd Patterson’s record of holding the title of youngest heavyweight champion (Patterson was 21 when he won the title).  Moreover, Tyson holds the 3rd Longest Unified Championship reign in heavyweight history at eight consecutive defenses.

Tyson’s success in the ring didn’t stop there. He added the World Boxing Association Championship to his list of victories in 1987. Also, later in the year, the fighter became the first one to own all the three major boxing belts by winning the International Boxing Federation title.

Mike Tyson holding 3 major Boxing Belts. WBC, WBA and IBF

His fights were a series of almost uninterrupted knock-outs and technical knock-outs for five whole years, in a way where referee had to stop the fight because the opponent couldn’t continue further. His win streak became media’s scrutiny and Tyson was announced as the next great heavyweight champion.

A Difficult Married Life

The later years of his life, however, reflect the difficulties he faced in his childhood years. Tyson has been married three times. First marrying (1988-1989) to a well-known actress of that time, Robin Givens, proved quite stormy for both of them. One year after their marriage, Givens filed for divorce, reason being Tyson’s assertions of violence, spousal abuse and mental instability (as per Givens reported). Moreover Givens also described her life with Tyson as “pure hell, torture and worse than anything I could possibly imagine”. All this ultimately proved right when Tyson admitted that he punched his wife, in the book Fire and Fear, that “that was the best punch I’ve ever thrown in my entire life”. Tyson and Givens had no children.

Marrying for the second time with Monica Turner also proved a fail but this time the marriage worked out for 5 years (1997-2003). Turner filed for divorce with the reason of Tyson’s abusive nature and adultery, during their 5 years of married life. They had two children, son Amir and daughter Rayna.

After two failed marriages, in 2009, Tyson walked up to the altar with a 32-year-old (former Girlfriend) Lakiha Kiki Spicer, in a short private ceremony at Las Vegas. The couple has two children, son Morocco and daughter Milan. Mike Tyson has a total of eight children.

The Downfall of the Greatest Boxer

After ruling the boxing world in the late 1980’s, Tyson lost his title of world’s youngest heavyweight boxer in early 1990’s. He also fired Kevin Rooney, the man known as the real genius behind Tyson’s success.  In 1991, Tyson was arrested for the rape of an 18-year-old and he was sentenced to six years in prison, along with four years of probation. After serving three years of his six-year sentence, Tyson made a comeback in 1995, winning an August bout against Peter McNeelay.

Tyson gained a few wins in early 2000’s but was later knocked out by several opponents, one of them named Buster Douglas. His defeats in this era were highlighted as the ones which brought down one of the most loved names in boxing.

Tyson’s Retirement Stuns the World

In 2005, Tyson stunned the boxing world by announcing his retirement after the sixth round in a close bout against Kevin McBride. After losing three of his last four fights, Tyson stated that he would quit boxing because he had lost his passion for the sport. In a documentary of 2008, Tyson stated the reason behind his defeat, as his poor physical condition and disinterest in boxing sport.

During his imprisonment, Tyson was converted to Islam but a very few people knew about it. In 2010, Tyson publicly tweeted his photo performing Umrah Pilgrimage in Mecca. Tyson adopted a Muslim name Malik Abdul Aziz, according to some sources.

Tyson performing Umrah, at Mecca.

Rise and fall in the Stardom doesn’t fade away the victories and contributions the star has made for the industry. Mike Tyson has succeeded in making an everlasting place in the annals of boxing.

Mike Tyson Now

Tyson had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In 2013, Mike Tyson talked about his life in an interview. Sources say that Tyson was on the verge of death due to alcoholism. Later In the year, Tyson had reportedly recovered due to his progress in sobriety and good company. Tyson further talked about his religion and was thankful for being a Muslim. Besides, Tyson announced his favour in Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.

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