DAR Legends: Mike Tyson

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-Iron Mike. One of the most ferocious personalities in the history of boxing. One of the most important names and faces in the world of boxing. Though he wasn't the easiest to deal with in interviews, Mike Tyson was unapologetic himself and he built a legacy as the baddest man on the planet. What he lacked in technical prowess in the boxing ring, he made up for in pure dominance and power, earning him the distinction of the most dangerous puncher in boxing in his prime. From his in ring prowess to his out of the ring antics, his occasional pop culture appearances, and more, Mike Tyson is an icon. Today, we take a look back at Tyson, what he left as a legacy, and more. Let's get into it.

One of the first exposures to sports I had as a kid was boxing. Between Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, it seemed my family never missed a match (oddly enough). I was so into boxing that when I was learning about other athletes, they were compared to Tyson. It didn’t take long before I understood that someone who, by the age of 20 was considered the “undisputed heavyweight champion of the world”, was the constant topic of sports conversations. When people would speak of the footwork, the power in his punches and his overall athleticism it always held him at an exceptional level. I thought it was an exaggeration but the first time I saw Mike Tyson fight, I didn’t know when the match started and ended. They would end before the first round was over. You’d expect a near hour long match but only get a 5 minute one (or less) and somehow that was sufficient. It became obvious how he got the nicknames “Iron Mike”, “Kid Dynamite” and “The Baddest Man On The Planet”. There was something remarkable about Tyson as his discipline, motivation and consistency were phenomenal and truly unmatched (except for maybe in Muhammad Ali) and fight after fight would prove this to be true. 

For those who grew up in the 90’s, it’s no surprise that despite of his constant athletic achievements and record breaking matches, Mike Tyson dealt with a ton of bad press. He was constantly involved in law suits, criminal charges and a whirlwind of negativity, and while none of those actions are to be taken lightly (and are certainly not condoned), in the ring, Tyson remained a beast and cemented himself as a sports legend only to be compared to greats before him. His statistics speak to his abilities. Of the 58 fights he had, he won 50 of them, and lost only 6 (2 were no contests), most of which were later in his career.

In 1996, Evander Holyfield would fight Iron Mike and win in a fight that he was not expected to come out victorious in. Of course, Tyson and his people would attribute the victory to “excessive” headbutting which caused an immense amount of tension between the two fighters. On June 28th 1997, the two would see another match and this one would never be forgotten. It was the fight that disqualified Tyson because he bit off Holyfield’s ear in the third round and again, Holyfield was deemed the winner. Again, Tyson would say that it was retaliation for all the headbutting, but the reason this was most notable to me, was because it was outrageous, it was shocking and left the 1.99 million viewers in absolute disbelief. He created the most talked about and referenced moment in sports history. 

Mike Tyson is one person who on the surface had absolutely everything going for him, but in later years he would speak out about the insecurities, and the psychological and emotional issues he had. Despite the problems, he became a legend for every career accomplishment and for being himself and eventually owning his mistakes and holding himself accountable for his (alleged) crimes. I know that Tyson isn't the most "loved" person but no matter what your opinion of him is on a personal level, his outstanding techniques, record setting stats and ability to draw fans in is undeniable! 

Tyson started off in Brooklyn as a troubled youth committing crimes with friends all before he was a teen. He was arrested more than 30 times before being sent to a reform school where he would eventually be led to boxing by his mentors. He began to focus his energy on learning the sport. A pattern of taking 3 steps forward then taking 2 steps back would become a reoccurring theme. As things were looking up, Tyson lost his mother to cancer, which took a toll on him. He'd fail to make the Olympic team but once he became pro at 18, he would become a knockout artist under the nickname "Iron Mike". Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Tyson's mentor and father figure Cus D'Amato died of pneumonia. This hit him hard but he focused on his goal and soon became the youngest Heavyweight Champion at the age of 20. The wins and belts kept coming, the partying and drinking was a lifestyle, but his relationship with actress Robin Givens became toxic during this. He was having street fights, he wrecked his car, had multiple lawsuits, caught a rape charge and as a result, served a 3 year sentence.

Once he got out, he appeared to have changed but the troubles continued when he bit off a piece of Holyfield's ear in this world event fight, was thrown off of motorcycle injuring himself, and racked up a couple more court cases, and another prison sentence. His boxing career would parallel his life outside the ring, some wins and some losses, but even with his wins, his boxing was declining. Tyson's admitted to struggling with substance abuse and he was getting treatment. He suffered a tragedy losing his 4 year old daughter in 2009 to a freak accident. That had to be his toughest time ans it seemed to change his perception & the public's perception of him. He stated that after his daughters death, he wanted to kill people and his love for pigeons kept him from doing so and that "Iron Mike is dead". 

Over the last 8 years, he's been in so many films and shows, developed his own productions, released a best seller, won awards, went vegan, remarried, has a new found love for his children, life and improvement all the while still dealing with his struggles. He's had the ability to change the way the world looks at him, thinking of the positive acts in the present instead of the negative acts of the past. There's a track on Nas' "Ni**er" mixtape named "Legendary" and that's a perfect tribute to Mike, which alone proves he's a great. Throughout his 30 year career we've seen many sides of Mike, he's had horrible judgement, multiple tragedies strike, and many accomplishments. Not only is he a champion in the ring but now he is also a champion in life.

There are fighters that you truly know are "once in a lifetime". Along with fighters like Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis, Mike Tyson fits that title very well. Iron Mike was a wrecking ball of destruction in the boxing ring, constantly coming to his opponents at full speed and with force. From the time that he broke into the sport at 18 (3/6/1985), Tyson was an attraction. Tyson's aggression came from his background growing up in the streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn in New York. Tyson lived near Bedford Stuyvesant, the same area as rap icon Biggie Smalls. Mike knew that boxing was his way out of the streets, the same way that Biggie knew rap was his way out of the streets. Iron Mike was a box office attraction because fans wanted to see how fast Tyson would destroy his opponents. Tyson won 26 of his first 28 fights by KO or TKO. His punching power was like something never seen before, and his head movements were a perfect complement. While Muhammad Ali personified showmanship, Mike Tyson personified ruthless aggression. In his prime, Mike was both the irresistible force and the immovable object wrapped together in one.

Mike took the world by storm when he became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history at the age of 20 when he defeated Trevor Berbick on November 22, 1986. Tyson was the master of the peekaboo style of Boxing, thanks to his trainer Cus D'Amato. It helped him slip under and weave his opponent's punches while timing his own. Tyson's greatest weapons were his right hook and uppercut. During his rise in popularity, Tyson even had his own game, the legendary "Mike Tyson Punch Out" featuring Lil' Mac in 1987. Tyson would leave a trail of bodies in his wake, including Michael Spinks and Larry Holmes. From 86-89, Tyson was an unstoppable world beater as he ruled the world of boxing with an iron fist. His knockouts are the stuff of boxing legend and had to be seen to be believed.
However, when talking about the Mike Tyson mystique, you must also include the controversy and trouble tied to his legacy. Mike has had his fair of hardships along with his fame. Since the death of Cus D'Amato, Tyson would slowly unravel as his fame grew. When Don King took over, Mike would be taken advantage of financially because of Don's shark like nature as a promoter. We also know about the drama that he had with Robin Givens. Mike Tyson's armor would soon suffer some other some other serious hits. In 1990, Tyson was defeated by journeyman fighter James "Buster" Douglas in what many would consider to be the greatest upset in boxing history. Buster became the new Heavyweight Champion. It took everyone by surprise as the unbeatable became beatable, and it remains one of the dents in Tyson's illustrious career.

Douglas would later lose the title to Tyson's greatest adversary, Evander Holyfield. The trouble wouldn't end there. Tyson was arrested for the rape of Desiree Washington, Miss Black Rhode Island in July 1991. Tyson would be found guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison on March 26, 1992. However, Mike served half that time as he was released in March 1995. During that time, Tyson converted to Islam. He also lost some serious years of his prime. Meanwhile, Mr. Holyfield was the dominant force in the Heavyweight Division. By 1996, it was time for these long time rivals to finally meet in the ring after YEARS of waiting. Tyson was making his comeback, even though his best years were clearly behind him. Meanwhile, Holyfield just came off three classic fights with Riddick Bowe which took a lot out of him. By this point, he was moving out of his best years as well. The fight itself was a major attraction.

Holyfield took Tyson to the distance and won. The rematch would live on in boxing infamy. During the fight, Tyson was getting frustrated with not only losing, but with the headbutts from Evander. As they were tangled, Mike bit Holyfield's ear. The entire world saw that and couldn't believe it. One can only imagine if that happened in the social media era. The memes and GIFs would be endless, and Twitter would shut down. Tyson's next fights were clearly not very spectacular as we truly saw him as a shell of who he once was. Nevertheless, Mike Tyson is a figure that has left an enormous mark in the history of Boxing. His influence has been major. Street Fighter's Balrog was based on Mike Tyson. Mike was one of my favorite boxers to use in Fight Night Round 4. In 58 fights, Mike Tyson has won 50 and lost only 6 with two no contests. He has also delivered 44 knockouts. Tyson has 2 WBC Heavyweight Titles and 2 WBA Heavyweight Titles along with being named the Fighter of the Year twice by The Ring Magazine ('86, '88) among many other accolades. He has also been named as one of the 100 Greatest Boxers by the Ring Magazine and one of ESPN's 50 greatest boxers. In 2011, Tyson was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. Tyson was even inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012 for his involvement at WrestleMania XIV. Mike Tyson is a one of a kind and a boxing icon.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-For me, Tyson was the man. I wasn't a big fan of many boxers at the time, as the sport seemed to be slightly on the downfall, but when I first discovered Tyson and his dominance, I was instantly intrigued. The first thing that caught my attention about him was his dominant victory over Larry Holmes, which took place in 1988. I wasn't born at the time of the fight, but I would watch the fight some years later on VHS, and I was instantly into it. Up until that point, for young True, the only boxers I knew of were Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston, George Foreman, and Joe Frazier. Truthfully, I only knew of them because of my Muhammad Ali history lesson as a young child. Tyson came about in the beginning of my childhood and surely, after watching the Holmes fight, I wanted to see more. I would see tapes of his Frank Bruno and Leon Spinks fights, and I was in awe of his punching power, his ability to control the fight and almost never look weak, along with his attack first mode.

I would eventually see that Tyson wasn't invincible, as I watched the Buster Douglas fight about 2 years after it happened, and it was a sad moment for me. I saw Tyson as the ultimate boxer besides Ali, and that loss to Douglas showed a vulnerability and weakness in him that perhaps I didn't expect to see. Still, during the time I got caught up on Tyson and fights, he was inactive on the boxing circuit for multiple reasons, the main reason being his imprisonment. I was unaware of his imprisonment until he was released in March 1995. When he was released, I was old enough to understand boxing much clearer and I was excited to see my current favorite fighter back in the ring. I remember my mother taking me to my cousin's house because they ordered the Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon fights, and then I can remember how angry yet excited everyone was because Tyson ended those fights rather quickly. Imagine paying to see a fight, and it only lasts one round or three rounds. Honestly, that was the appeal of Tyson though. Would Iron Mike know him out in 1 round, 2 rounds, or 3 rounds? It became the topic of discussion every time Tyson would fight. The only time I remember that it wasn't a part of the discussion was during the two infamous fights that changed his career.
Those were the Holyfield fights. 

I was aware of Holyfield and wasn't a huge fan, but he was a noteworthy boxer and the Tyson vs Holyfield bout was probably the biggest fight in the newer era of boxing. The biggest draw of the era versus one of the biggest draws of the era, probably no. 2 in that time. November 9, 1996. Many have said that Tyson didn't have his heart into boxing due to the death of close friend 2Pac, but that was merely speculation. There is no evidence to really support this. Still, the whole Holyfield vs Tyson fight saw Iron Mike look a bit out of his element and his defensive techniques seemed futile against Holyfield. While Tyson had some good showings in the earlier rounds, by the end it was clear that Holyfield  had control and Tyson, who hadn't been pushed since his return to boxing, showed fatigue in later rounds. For me, it was the moment I realized that one of my favorite boxers would never be the same again. Holyfield won by TKO in the 11th round, and Tyson instantly asked for a rematch. That rematch would happen and there was a moment that the world will never forget that took place.
Tyson bit off a piece of Holyfield's ear. It was the bite heard around the world and nearly exiled Tyson out of boxing  forever.

It was during that period where Tyson showed he could entertain outside of boxing, making an appearance for WWF on Monday Night RAW and Wrestlemania 14. It was a great PR moment to repair his image and restore the thought of Tyson as a charismatic yet troubled enigma. After that, Tyson would make some attempts at returning to boxing, but they didn't work as well, though he did have a huge bout with Lennox Lewis that netted both men a huge payday. The truth is, boxing had come and gone for Tyson, but he still had a lot to offer the world. Since the end of his boxing career, Tyson battled personal demons and overcame them, he has his own show Mike Tyson Mysteries, has shown that he's much more comfortable and relaxed and enjoying life, and that's really all you could want from a true legend. Tyson made his mark, left his imprint on the world, and he will forever be seen as an icon. Mike Tyson is and will forever be a legend.



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