How Did Mike Tyson’s Reputation Make Such a Big Comeback?

In his prime, Mike Tyson was one of the hardest-hitting, most physically dominant boxers the world had ever seen. During his boxing career, Tyson amassed a 50-6-0 record, with over 75% of his wins coming by knockout. Most commentators agree Tyson belongs in any conversation about the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time.

Unfortunately for Tyson, his reputation for brutality spilled over into his personal life on several occasions. Yet, more recently, Tyson has performed the task of rehabilitating his public image. Let’s look at his troubled past and the strategies he’s used to return to the public’s good graces.

Mike Tyson’s troubled past

From his earliest days, Tyson always had a reputation as a vicious fighter. It soon became clear that he was just as violent and unpredictable in real life. His first wife, the actress Robin Givens, divorced him in 1989, after just over a year of marriage.

At the time, reports the New York Times, she described Tyson has having an “extremely volatile temper,” while characterizing her experience of their marriage as “torture, pure hell.”

Things worsened in July 1991, when Tyson received charges of rape . His victim was 18-year-old Desiree Washington, then the reigning Miss Black Rhode Island. Tyson was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison and four years of probation. He ultimately served a little less than three years before receiving his release.

Tyson soon mounted a comeback in the ring, where he reestablished much of his previous dominance. Yet an aging Evander Holyfield defeated Tyson in 1996. In 1997, during a rematch between the two, Tyson locked up Holyfield and to the horror of everyone watching took a bite out of his ear. That incident cost Tyson his U.S. boxing license.

Tyson’s troubled image continued following his abrupt 2005 retirement. He coped with drugs and alcohol, went bankrupt, and got arrested on numerous occasions. His reputation has sunk to a point from which few celebrities have ever returned — yet somehow Tyson was able to mount a surprising PR comeback.

Tyson’s honesty about his mistakes

One of the most important factors in Tyson’s rehabilitation of his reputation has been his willingness to talk honestly about past mistakes. On numerous talk shows, podcasts, and other interviews, Tyson has opened up about his abusive nature, time in prison, and mental health struggles.

“That’s all I once knew – how to hurt people,” Tyson told The Guardian in 2014. In that same piece, he talked about his ongoing experiences with drugs. He also said that accepting a higher power had played a huge role in helping him turn his life around. That kind of candor has been one of the most important factors in Tyson’s ability to heal his rocky public image.

Staying busy with new endeavors

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Mike and his buds.

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Tyson’s willingness to stay busy with new activities also helps his public rehabilitation. Since 2014, he’s had his own cartoon — Mike Tyson Mysteries — on Adult Swim. The show quickly became a surprise hit with fans, thanks in large part to the fact that Tyson himself provides the voice of the title character.

In 2017, reports Bro Bible, Tyson also started building Tyson Ranch — a sprawling marijuana farm in California. The farm not only sells legal marijuana, but also allows visitors. Tyson has apparently even become quite the weed devotee himself, revealing in 2019 that he smokes approximately $40,000 worth of his own product each month.

On top of that, Tyson has also been recently hinting that he might try to make a boxing comeback. That may sound pretty improbable at first. But Tyson has been sharing a lot of recent workout videos to prove that he’s really getting himself into prime shape. And he’s already received one offer in excess of $20 million to step back into the ring.