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The Life and Career of Mike Tyson

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Born June 30th, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York, Mike Tyson became boxing's youngest heavyweight champion at the age of twenty years old. He had a troubled youth, but managed to find success by participating in the combat sport and winning many of his bouts through knockout victories. Throughout the years, he developed an aggressive and ferocious fighting style. He also became known for his controversial actions both while boxing and in his personal life. In this video, takes a look at the life and career of former American boxer, Mike Tyson.

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Troubled Youth

Michael Gerard Tyson was born on June 30th, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York. His troubled youth saw him arrested over thirty times by age thirteen. His mother’s death three years later resulted in Cus D’Amato becoming his legal guardian and boxing trainer.

Boxing Debut

In the early 1980s, Tyson won two gold medals at the Junior Olympic Games. His professional boxing debut came in 1985 when he knocked out Hector Mercedes in the first round. He won over half of his fights with a first-round KO during the next year.

WBC Heavyweight Championship Win

Media attention grew, and the young fighter won his first nationally televised match against Jesse Ferguson in 1986. Tyson also knocked out Trevor Berbick in the second round of his first title fight. By winning the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship at twenty years old, he became history’s youngest heavyweight champion.

WBA and IBF Wins

In 1987, Tyson won the World Boxing Association title after a fight with James Smith and took the International Boxing Federation title after a victory over Tony Tucker. Tyson mania was at its height, and he became the first heavyweight to simultaneously own the WBC, WBA and IBF belts.

Personal Troubles

Tyson’s most memorable 1988 victory was his knockout of Michael Spinks less than two minutes into the first round. However, his life outside the ring was taking a hit. While Don King became his promoter, an impending divorce and the dismissal of his trainer Kevin Rooney affected his discipline and training.

Buster Douglas

This was most evident in his 1990 fight against Buster Douglas when Iron Mike was sent to the floor for the first time in his professional career.

Bouncing Back

Tyson bounced back and won his next few fights. He hoped to regain the title of undisputed world heavyweight champion in a fight against reigning champ Evander Holyfield. However an injury during training forced Tyson to withdraw.

Jail Time and Comeback

In 1992, a rape charge brought on by a Miss Black America contestant resulted in a ten-year jail sentence. He was released after three and returned to boxing in 1995. His comeback fight against Peter McNeeley generated much media and public interest. The next year, he won back the WBC and WBA titles in two more knockout victories.

Evander Holyfield

In 1996, Tyson lost the WBA title in a fight against Holyfield called “Finally.” Though Holyfield’s victory surprised many, it was their 1997 rematch that became one of history’s most controversial sports events. During “The Sound and the Fury” fight, Tyson was disqualified for biting Holyfield on both ears. He later stated that this was his reaction to Holyfield’s un-penalized head-butting during the bout.

Boxing License Taken Away

Despite a public apology, Tyson’s license was annulled. However, it was restored just one year later. His first fight back was against Francois Botha in 1999, and Tyson allegedly tried to break the arms of his opponent. He then spent another nine months in jail after being charged with assaulting two drivers the year before.

Controversial Behavior Inside the Ring

The controversy continued. While fighting Lou Savarese, Tyson knocked a referee to the floor. His match against Andrzej Golota resulted in a no contest finish after marijuana was found in Tyson’s system. In 2002, Tyson was knocked out by Lennox Lewis in a heavyweight championship fight that was pay-per-view’s highest-grossing televised event to that date.

Troubles Inside and Outside of the Ring

Tyson’s last professional victory was his first round KO of Clifford Etienne in 2003. That year, he also filed for bankruptcy. Nevertheless, he returned to boxing in 2004 and was knocked out by Danny Williams in only the fifth defeat of his career.

Financial Troubles and Retirement

In 2005, Tyson announced he was quitting boxing after leaving a fight with Kevin McBride unfinished. However, financial troubles soon led to exhibition bouts and celebrity endorsements. He also entered rehab after a DUI and drug-related charge in 2007.

Family Tragedy

Tragedy struck two years later when his young daughter died after getting tangled in the cord of a treadmill.

Cleaning Up

Tyson then cleaned up his act and in 2011 he announced his sobriety, and that he had converted to veganism. He also introduced his Animal Planet reality show “Taking on Tyson.” On the show, he showcased his love for pigeons by racing them. That same year, Tyson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Boxing Legacy

His ferocious fighting style, numerous victories and controversial behavior made Mike Tyson one of the biggest sports figures of the 80s and 90s. And, his outrageous personality has made him a staple of pop culture.

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