One of the most frightening human beings ever to step into the boxing ring, Mike Tyson was the model of the supreme gladiator - unbeaten and unbeatable. Never before had one individual captured the attention of the wider world via sport except Muhammad Ali.
Michael Gerard Tyson was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised by his mother, Lorna Mae (Smith). From 1987-1990, he was the undisputed world heavyweight champion conducting a reign of terror in the prize-fighting ring and earning millions of dollars whilst doing it. He had won the WBC title in November 1986 at the tender age of twenty becoming the youngest heavyweight champion ever. Soon after he claimed the WBA crown from James "Bonecrusher" Smith before beating Tony Tucker for the IBF championship. Brutal victories against the likes of Pinklon Thomas, Tony Tubbs, Larry Holmes, Tyrell Biggs and Michael Spinks confirmed his status as the best in the world.
However, his life outside the ring was as engrossing as his life in it. A short-lived marriage to actress Robin Givens was followed by a catalogue of personal misfortune that ultimately resulted in him losing his world championship to James "Buster" Douglas in Tokyo in February 1990. He was jailed for rape in 1992 and released in 1995. A comeback later that same year saw him beat two opponents before regaining the WBC heavyweight crown in March 1996. He added the WBA crown to his tally by beating Bruce Seldon before getting stopped by the unheralded Evander Holyfield in November 1996. A rematch in June 1997 saw him bite a chunk of Holyfield's ear off - an act that earned him worldwide condemnation. He has continued to fight on and off; a title challenge in 2002 saw him lose in 8 rounds to Lennox Lewis whilst a routine assignment in July 2004 saw him beaten by another British talent, Danny Williams, in 4 rounds. His final fight was a loss to Irishman Kevin McBride in 2005, although to most observers it was clear Tyson had absolutely nothing left, including the desire to fight.
After leaving boxing as a fighter he continued to remain in the public eye both for the right & wrong reasons, including further brushes with the law. In 2009 he appeared as a fictional version of himself in the hit film 'The Hangover' & its subsequent sequel in 2011 as well as a number of WWE events. Tyson returned to boxing some years later as a promoter, guiding the next generation of contenders to the top under his promotional banner 'Iron Mike Productions' & now seems to be a man at peace, settled with a young family & enjoying life. But his legacy as the youngest world heavyweight champion of all time, and the impact he had on both sport & popular culture in the late '80s and early '90s, will forever remain.More