Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Laredo Tribune. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Currently Known For:
Actor, Author, and Businessman
1986 - Present
June 30, 1966
To view another celebrity please click the next celebrity button below or read the full article by scrolling further below.
“I’m happy to be 50. There’s a lot of people that didn’t make 50. So 50’s cool. Regardless of what I think, what I want to happen, I’m here.” Mike Tyson was just 20 in 1986 when he won his first World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship. In the process, he became history’s youngest-ever heavyweight champion. After several years of fame and fortune, however, he found himself embroiled in series of scandals and legal woes.
Mike Tyson is known for his controversial banter and intimidating boxing style, including having bitten off competitor Evander Holyfield’s ear in a 1997 heavyweight rematch. What has the man, once hailed by Sky Sports as “perhaps the most ferocious fighters to step into a professional ring,” been up to since setting aside his boxing gloves? Here’s a closer look at the controversial life of Mike Tyson.
A Difficult Childhood
Michael Gerard Tyson was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 30, 1966. His father -- who Tyson once described as “just a regular street guy caught up in the street world” -- abandoned the family around the time of Tyson’s birth. Raised by his single mother, Tyson grew up in crime-ridden neighborhoods, and soon became involved in petty crimes and fighting. At the age of 13, he’d already been arrested 38 times.
Tyson was sent to the Tryon School for Boys, where his emerging boxing talent was discovered by former boxer-turned-juvenile center council Bobby Stewart. After training Tyson himself for a few months, Stewart introduced the boy to Cus D’Amato, who became his manager and trainer.
Tyson’s mother died when he was 16 and D’Amato became his legal guardian. The prizefighter later said of his mother’s death, “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, but it’s crushing emotionally and personally.”
In his teens, Tyson found success as an amateur boxer, taking home the gold medal at the Junior Olympic Games in 1981 and 1982. He made his professional boxing debut in 1985, and his career quickly took off. Tyson won 26 of his first 28 fights by KO or TKO -- the majority of them in the first round. In defeating the likes of James Tillis, Jesse Fergusen, and Marvis Frazier, Tyson soon attracted the attention of the media, which begin billing him as the next great heavyweight champion.
A Championship, a Downfall and a Comeback
Tyson won his first title fight by TKO in the second round to claim the 1986 WBC heavyweight championship. His performance was widely celebrated with Donald Saunders declaring, “The noble and manly art of boxing can at least cease worrying out its immediate future now [ that] it has discovered a heavyweight champion fit to stand alongside Dempsey, Tunney, Louis, Marciano, and Ali.” Victory after victory ensued, which led to rampant “Tyson-mania," including the release of Nintendo’s Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, which went on to sell more than a million copies.
As Tyson’s career climbed, personal problems also mounted, including a highly-publicized divorce; contract feud; and losing the undisputed championship to Buster Douglas in Tokyo despite huge odds in his favor. Today, Douglas’s knockout victory of Tyson is considered one of modern sports history’s most shocking upsets. Tyson bounced back by winning his subsequent fights, which set him up for another chance at the undisputed world heavyweight championships against Donovan “Razor” Ruddock in 1991. The title was awarded to Tyson in the seventh round, which infuriated the pro-Ruddock fans in attendance. The two met again later that year, with Tyson walking away with a 12-round unanimous decision, He was set to battle Evander Holyfield for the undisputed championship that November, but pulled out due to an injury.
1991 was also a turmoil-filled year in Tyson’s personal life with a conviction and prison sentence. He served less than three years on his six-year sentence. Tyson mounted a comeback after being parole, with his first fight against Peter McNeeley grossing a staggering $96 million worldwide. It lasted just 89 seconds, and earned a place in TV Guide’s 1998 roundup of the 50 greatest sports moments of all time.
All the while, Tyson’s rivalry with Holyfield also continued to escalate, with Holyfield defeating Tyson in 1996 in a TKO despite having been given no chance of winning by the majority of oddsmakers. When the two met again the following year, the rematch would go on to become one of the most controversial sporting events of all time when Tyson was disqualified for biting off one of Holyfield’s ears. The moment also made history as the first heavyweight title fight to end with a disqualification in more than half a century.
Tyson’s career took a hit after the incident, and his boxing license was rescinded, although it was reinstated the following year. He was also fined $3 million.
Tyson continued to be plagued by scandals and legal problems, including everything from more jail time to threatening a competitor’s children to bankruptcy. In 2005, he told USA Today of the struggles that seemed to follow him, “My whole life has been a waste -- I've been a failure. I just want to escape. I'm really embarrassed with myself and my life...People put me so high; I wanted to tear that image down.”
In recent years, Tyson has tried his hand at several things outside the ring, including writing two books: New York Times Best Seller Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth and Iron Ambition. He’s also dabbled in acting, with his most notable role being his fictionalized portrayal of himself in the hit movie, The Hangover. Tyson’s touring one-man show, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, aired on HBO in 2013.
Tyson has also started several businesses, including the boxing promotions company Iron Mike Productions; a YouTube channel with Shots Studio; and the entertainment platform Fight to Fame. Additionally, he’s owned more than a dozen Mike Tyson Fitness and Boxing Academy franchises.
At the height of Mike Tyson’s career, he was one of the world’s most celebrated sports heroes. Since that time, he’s managed to stay in the public eye, albeit not for heroic reasons. Still, while his troubles have tainted his legacy, Tyson retains a place in history as one of the best -- and most controversial -- heavyweight champs of all time.