Mike Tyson is a retired boxer and a former WBC, WBA and IBF world heavyweight champion. In his 58-fight career, Tyson won 50 of those matches, 44 of them by KO. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011.
However, Tyson's career and life were not without controversy. The boxer served three years in prison in the 1990s after being found guilty of rape and returned to jail for a shorter sentence on assault charges in 1999. He also raised eyebrows in the ring -- perhaps his most famous fight involved Tyson biting the ear of opponent Evander Holyfield so severely that a piece of it detached.
Since his retirement, Tyson has struggled financially but, in recent years, has staged a comeback in pop culture, thanks to popular video games and cameos in movies and television.
Michael Gerard Tyson was born June 30, 1966, in Brooklyn, New York, to Lorna Tyson and Jimmy Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick left the family when Tyson was 2, leaving his mother as the sole caregiver for him and his two siblings. The family struggled financially and eventually moved to Brownsville, Brooklyn, a high-crime area of the city.
Tyson was bullied as a child, and he joined a gang -- the Jolly Stompers -- to protect himself and join in the popular street-fighting of the neighborhood. At 11, Tyson was robbing convenience stores while other gang members held the clerks at gunpoint. By his 13th birthday, Tyson had been arrested more than 30 times over his petty criminal activities.
Due to his bad behavior, Tyson was sent to the Tryon School for Boys, a reform school upstate. Tyson's counselor at the school was Bob Stewart, an amateur boxing champion. In exchange for Tyson's promise of good behavior and schoolwork, Stewart agreed to teach the boy to box. His schoolwork improved exponentially, and he exceled at the sport, often sneaking out of bed to practice after curfew.
In 1979, Stewart introduced Tyson to Cus D'Amato, a boxing coach who owned a gym in Catskill, N.Y. Tyson and D'Amato became extremely close as he coached the young boxer and, after Tyson was paroled from Tryon in 1980, D'Amato became his legal guardian. Tyson lived and worked with D'Amato on his boxing while attending Catskill High School.
But two years later, Tyson was expelled from the school. That same year, his mother had died of cancer, before Tyson ever really had a chance to get to know her, he said later. He worked with private tutors after being expelled while he kept working on his boxing, hoping to qualify for the 1984 Olympic trials. He competed in the 1981 and 1982 Junior Olympic Games, winning the gold medal twice -- and winning every bout by a knockout. Though Tyson failed to make the 1984 Olympic team, D'Amato decided that it was time for him to turn professional, at only 18 years old.
Mike Tyson made his professional debut on March 6, 1985, in a fight against Hector Mercedes in Albany, N.Y. The 18-year-old boxer knocked out Mercedes in just one round. Later that year, though, Tyson was rocked by the death of D'Amato, who died of pneumonia. His training was taken over by Kevin Rooney, D'Amato's assistant, and he continued boxing less than two weeks after D'Amato's death. His next fight -- yet another knockout, his 13th was dedicated to D'Amato's memory.
By the time he was 20, Tyson had a 22-0 record, 21 of those fights won by KO. A year after his mentor died, in 1986, Tyson was given the chance they both had worked for: his first championship fight, against Trevor Berbick. In just the second round, Tyson knocked out Berbick and won the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship. He also became the youngest heavyweight champion in history, at just 20 years and four months.
Though Tyson continued to win -- defending his title against James Smith in 1987 -- and added the World Boxing Association title to his resume. When he won the International Boxing Federation heavyweight title on Aug. 1 of that year, he became the first heavyweight boxer to unite the three titles.
In 1988, Tyson still had not lost a match, though it seemed that his dominance was perhaps beginning to fade. He signed on with Don King, a famous boxing promoter. At the same time, his marriage was ending, he fired longtime trainer Kevin Rooney, and his focus was being taken out of the ring. Tyson broke a bone in his hand after a brawl in August 1988, and, just a month later, was knocked unconscious after driving into a tree at D'Amato's home -- an act some tabloids claimed was a suicide attempt.
In 1989, Tyson fought only two professional matches -- both to defend his heavyweight titles. But his winning streak came to an end on Feb. 11, 1990, against Buster Douglas. Tyson, with a 37-0 record, was the clear favorite, and even had knocked Douglas down to the mat in the eighth round. But 35 seconds into the 10th round, Douglas knocked out Tyson -- the first time he ever had hit the mat in his career -- and the defending champ was counted out. That fight remains one of the most shocking upsets in modern sports.
Tyson redeemed himself with a win against Olympic gold medalist Henry Tillman, whom Tyson had fought often as an amateur, later that year. He knocked out Tillman in the first round and followed that fight with a TKO in the first round against Alex Stewart later that year. He fought two more bouts, both against Dominic Ruddock, before his life changed tremendously.
In 1992, Tyson was found guilty of rape and sent to prison for a six-year sentence. He entered the Indiana Youth Center in April 1992 and served three years, being released in March 1995. Already Tyson was planning his return to boxing. His comeback bout was against Peter McNeeley in August -- and Tyson won by DQ after knocking out Mc Neeley only 89 seconds into the match.
He regained the WBC title from Frank Bruno in March 1996, and he earned the WBA title in September. But Tyson's first real challenge since leaving prison came later that year. In November, he faced Evander Holyfield, one of the only boxers who could claim as much fame as Tyson, for the WBA belt. Holyfield, having recently returned from retirement, was not given much of a chance in the fight, but he surprised many by defeating Tyson by TKO in the 11th round.
The bout was not without controversy, though -- Tyson's camp accused Holyfield of numerous headbutts during the bout, though they were ruled accidental by the referee. They proved important six months later, though, when Tyson and Holyfield met for a rematch. That bout set numerous records for viewership and money -- Tyson was paid $30 million and Holyfield $35 million for the fight, the largest purses ever, and a record 1.99 million households purchased the PPV showing of the fight.
The ensuing fight would become one of the most controversial events in sports. Tyson bit Holyfield on the ear in the third round, pausing the match and causing the referee to deduct him two points. When the match resumed, though, Tyson did it again -- this time severely enough to remove a piece of Holyfield's right ear (it was found on the ring floor after the fight). Tyson was disqualified immediately, and Holyfield won the fight. Tyson said he did it because Holyfield had gotten away with so many headbutts without punishment.
Two days after the fight, Tyson issued a statement apologizing to Holyfield and asking not to be banned for life. The Nevada State Athletic Commission already had withheld $3 million from his purse. On July 9, the commission also rescinded Tyson's boxing license. He was unable to box for more than a year, before the commission restored his license on Oct. 18, 1998.
Tyson made yet another comeback in a match in January 1999 against Francois Botha, another controversial and ill-tempered match that Tyson eventually won. Just a month later, Tyson returned to jail, this time on assault charges, for nine months. He returned with a no-contest decision in his first match, but won two of three of his 2000 bouts, both by TKO, before finishing with another no-contest -- despite an initial win in that last bout, the result was changed after Tyson tested positive for marijuana in a post-fight urine test. In his only match in 2001, Tyson earned a seventh-round TKO against Brian Nielsen.
In a fight for the heavyweight title against Lennox Lewis in 2002, Tyson suffered only the fourth loss of his career. There was plenty of bad blood in that match -- Tyson had delivered plenty of trash talk before the match, and the fighters had been involved in a brawl at a press conference several months before the fight. Tyson lost that fight in the eighth round, suffering only his second knockout ever.
He would win only one more fight in his career after that bout against Lewis. His next fight, against Clifford Etienne, gave Tyson a KO in the first round, but he lost his next two matches -- by KO or TKO -- before declaring his retirement in late 2005. In his final match, one most considered extremely winnable, against Kevin McBride, Tyson failed to come out after the seventh round and retired after the fight, saying that his heart was no longer in the sport.
Mike Tyson was in trouble with the law from an early age. While serving in a gang in Brooklyn as a child, Tyson was arrested 38 times by the age of 13. But his more serious accusations came later.
In 1988, Tyson was accused of spousal abuse by his wife, Robin Givens, and, at one point, the police were called to his home when he began throwing furniture out the window and tried to force his wife and her mother out of the house. His wife eventually filed for divorce, and Tyson counterfiled.
In August 1988, Tyson was involved in a street brawl late at night against another professional fighter, Mitch Green. He broke a bone in his hand and, several years later, was forced to pay Green $45,000 for the incident. Just a month later, Tyson was knocked unconscious after driving his car into a tree -- some tabloids claimed the act was a suicide attempt brought on by drug abuse. He was fined for the incident and sentenced with community service.
Later that year, Tyson was sued for inappropriate behavior with two women he met at a nightclub, Sandra Miller and Lori Davis. Both accused Tyson of forcefully grabbing them and insulting them incessantly. On Nov. 1, 1990, a New York jury sided with Miller in the case, forcing Tyson to pay her.
His most serious accusations arose a year later, when Tyson was accused of raping Desiree Washington in July 1991. Tyson's defense argued that the relations with Washington were consensual, but some believe that Tyson's defensive and hostile behavior on the stand helped lead to his conviction. Tyson was found guilty on Feb. 10, 1992, and, after an appeal by his lawyers was denied, was sentenced on March 26. Tyson received a 10-year sentence: six years in prison, and four years on probation.
Tyson entered the Indiana Youth Center in April 1992. He added 15 days to his sentence after threatening a guard just after entering prison, but eventually was released after serving three years. Tyson was released from prison on March 25, 1995.
But the boxer was back in court a few years later -- this time on civil charges. Tyson filed a $100 million lawsuit against Don King, accusing him of cheating Tyson out of millions. He also sued his former managers for their part in his relations with King. King and Tyson eventually settled out of court for $14 million, though Tyson allegedly lost millions in the process.
In July 1998, Tyson was back in trouble. He assaulted two motorists after a car accident dented his Mercedes. Just a few months after his boxing license was reinstated, Tyson was back in court, and he pleaded no contest for the assault. He was sentenced to four years for the assault, but was given one year of jail time, a $5,000 fine and 200 hours of community services. He served nine months starting in February 1999.
When he got out, Tyson faced more rape allegations in 2001, from an acquaintance in San Bernardino, Calif. The San Bernardino District Attorney eventually decided not to file charges, citing a lack of evidence.
Despite his large purses during his boxing career, Tyson was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2003. He said his finances were "destitute" thanks to lavish spending during his career. In the same year, Tyson pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault charges after a fight in a Brooklyn Hotel in June. He sought to have the charges dismissed, claiming self-defense after the men threatened him with a gun. Eventually, in February 2004, Tyson agreed to a plea deal: The boxer would plead guilty to disorderly conduct and would do community service and receive counseling, and he would avoid jail time.
On Dec. 29, 2006, Tyson was arrested again -- this time in Scottsdale, Ariz., on suspicion of DUI and felony drug possession. Tyson had crashed into a police SUV after leaving a nightclub and, according to a police report, told the responding officer that he had used drugs and that he was an addict. He pleaded not guilty in January 2007 before checking himself into a treatment program for addictions.
On Sept. 24, 2007, Tyson returned to court and pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and DUI. He was convicted in November 2007 and, despite prosecutors asking for a year-long sentence, was sentenced to 24 hours in jail, 360 hours of community service and three years' probation.
Tyson was arrested in November 2009 after getting into a fight with a photographer at Los Angeles International Airport, but no charges were filed.
Mike Tyson has been married three times, and he has eight children, by several women.
Tyson's first marriage was to actress Robin Givens, whom he married in February 1988. That marriage lasted barely over a year and was filled with accusations of spousal abuse and violence. Givens and Tyson appeared on 20/20 just a few months after their marriage, where Givens accused him of being manic depressive and described her life with him as "pure hell." Eight months into their marriage -- and one month after that interview -- Givens filed for divorce. Tyson countersued, and the couple eventually parted in February 1989.
Tyson's second wife was Monica Turner, whom he married in April 1997. They had two children together, Rayna and Amir. Tyson filed for divorce in 2002, claiming that he had committed adultery during their marriage. They divorced officially in 2003.
Tyson's third and current wife is Lakiha Spicer, 11 years his junior. They married in June 2009 in Las Vegas. The couple have two children, Milan (born in 2008) and Morocco (born in 2011).
Tyson has had four other children: Mikey (born 1990), D'Amato (born in 1990 and named after his coach and father figure), Miguel (born in 2002) and Exodus (2005-09). His 4-year-old daughter Exodus was killed in a freak accident in 2009 when she was tangled in the cord of a treadmill. Her older brother found her, and her mother did CPR, but the child died in the hospital the next day. Tyson married Spicer 10 days after his daughter's death.
While he was in prison on rape charges, Tyson converted to Islam, influenced by a Muslim professor in the jail. He took on the Muslim name of Malik Abdul Aziz. In July 2010, Tyson took a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca.
Tyson in popular culture
While Tyson was fighting in the 1980s and 1990s, he was one of the most recognizable sports figures in the world. He made cameos in several popular TV shows and movies. In 1998, while Tyson was banned from boxing after his fight with Evander Holyfield, he hosted and served as the special outside enforcer for WrestleMania XIV.
One of Tyson's most famous cameos in recent years was in the popular 2009 film, "The Hangover," in which he played himself, living in Las Vegas with a pet tiger. He also appears in the movie's sequel, "The Hangover II," which became the highest grossing comedy opening weekend ever.
A documentary on Tyson was released in 2008, entitled "Tyson." The movie received huge critical acclaim -- and a 10-minute standing ovation -- at the Cannes film festival, where it was first screened. The film was directed by James Toback and follows Tyson's journey from teenager to boxing champ, to prison and back.
In March 2011, Tyson starred in a new Animal Planet show called "Taking on Tyson," which featured his long love for raising pigeons. It features Tyson's breeding and raising pigeons, as well as his first forays into racing the birds.
Tyson partnered with Nintendo to release a series of video games, Mike Tyson's Punch Out! The first game was released in 1987 for the NES. In 2011, the game was released for the iPhone.
In 2003, Tyson hired tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill to create a tribal pattern on his face. The tattoo, which spans Tyson's forehead down to his cheek and around his eye, has become well-known and is one of Tyson's trademarks. In "The Hangover II," one of the main characters gets the same tattoo on his face and, weeks before the release of the movie, Whitmill sued its creators for copyright infringement, claiming he put out a copyright on the design of the tattoo. The lawsuit still is pending.
MIKE TYSON QUICK FACTS
Birth date: June 30, 1966
Birthplace: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Weight class: Heavyweight
Pro fights: 58
Wins by KO: 44
Inducted into Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011
NOTABLE 2011 BOXING HOF INDUCTEES
Julio Cesar Chavez
MIKE TYSON BOXING RECORD
50-6-0, 44 knockouts
|6/11/2005||Kevin McBride||Loss||TKO, 6|
|7/30/2004||Danny Williams||Loss||KO, 4|
|2/22/2003||Clifford Etienne||Win||KO, 1|
|6/08/2003||Lennox Lewis||Loss||KO, 8|
|10/13/2001||Brian Nielsen||Win||RTD, 7|
|6/24/2000||Lou Savarese||Win||TKO, 1|
|1/29/2000||Julius Francis||Win||TKO, 2|
|1/16/1999||Francois Botha||Win||KO, 5|
|6/28/1997||Evander Holyfield||Loss||DQ, 3|
|11/09/1996||Evander Holyfield||Loss||TKO, 11|
|9/07/1996||Bruce Seldon||Win||TKO, 1|
|3/16/1996||Frank Bruno||Win||TKO, 3|
|12/16/1995||Buster Mathis Jr.||Win||KO, 3|
|8/19/1995||Peter McNeeley||Win||DQ, 1|
|6/28/1991||Donovan Ruddock||Win||UD, 12|
|3/18/1991||Donovan Ruddock||Win||TKO, 7|
|12/08/1990||Alex Stewart||Win||TKO, 1|
|6/16/1990||Henry Tillman||Win||KO, 1|
|2/11/1990||James Buster Douglas||Loss||KO, 10|
|7/21/1989||Carl Williams||Win||TKO, 1|
|2/25/1989||Frank Bruno||Win||TKO, 5|
|6/27/1988||Michael Spinks||Win||KO, 1|
|3/21/1988||Tony Tubbs||Win||TKO, 2|
|1/22/1988||Larry Holmes||Win||TKO, 4|
|10/16/1987||Tyrell Biggs||Win||TKO, 7|
|8/01/1987||Tony Tucker||Win||UD, 12|
|5/30/1987||Pinklon Thomas||Win||TKO, 6|
|3/7/1987||James Smith||Win||UD, 12|
|11/22/1986||Trevor Berbick||Win||TKO, 2|
|9/06/1986||Alfonzo Ratliff||Win||TKO, 2|
|8/17/1986||Jose Ribalta||Win||TKO, 10|
|7/26/1986||Marvis Frazier||Win||KO, 1|
|7/11/1986||Lorenzo Boyd||Win||KO, 2|
|6/28/1986||William Hosea||Win||KO, 1|
|6/13/1986||Reggie Gross||Win||TKO, 1|
|5/20/1986||Mitch Green||Win||UD, 10|
|5/03/1986||James Tillis||Win||UD, 10|
|3/10/1986||Steve Zouski||Win||KO, 3|
|2/16/1986||Jesse Ferguson||Win||TKO, 6|
|1/24/1986||Mike Jameson||Win||TKO, 5|
|1/11/1986||David Jaco||Win||TKO, 1|
|12/27/1985||Mark Young||Win||TKO, 1|
|12/06/1985||Sammy Scaff||Win||TKO, 1|
|11/22/1985||Conroy Nelson||Win||TKO, 2|
|11/13/1985||Eddie Richardson||Win||KO, 1|
|11/01/1985||Sterling Benjamin||Win||TKO, 1|
|10/25/1985||Robert Colay||Win||KO, 1|
|10/09/1985||Donnie Long||Win||TKO, 1|
|9/05/1985||Michael Johnson||Win||KO, 1|
|8/15/1985||Lorenzo Canady||Win||KO, 1|
|7/19/1985||Larry Sims||Win||KO, 3|
|7/11/1985||John Alderson||Win||RTD, 2|
|6/20/1985||Ricardo Spain||Win||TKO, 1|
|5/23/1985||Don Halpin||Win||KO, 4|
|4/10/1985||Trent Singleton||Win||TKO, 1|
|3/06/1985||Hector Mercedes||Win||TKO, 1|