Mike Tyson might be one of the greatest athletes in American sports history during the prime of his boxing career. Despite this, he is also one of the most controversial. Since coming onto the scene as a teenager, Tyson has garnered as much attention for his antics as he does for his emphatic knockouts. Raul Villacis of Entrepreneur.com recently went over some of these controversies and gave readers a lesson in what they mean.
Mike Tyson’s career
Tyson was just 19 years old when he entered the ring as a professional according to Box Rec. Before long, however, he was one of the biggest names in the business. Tyson first made his name by knocking out nearly any fighter who was unlucky enough to enter the ring with him, but by 1990 he was the biggest star the sport had seen since Muhammad Ali.
His penchant for trash talk made him a perfect villain in the sport, while his talent in the ring made him a hero in some circles, too. Whether Tyson knocked out Larry Holmes or bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear, however, he always knew how to get attention. Unfortunately, his other antics made these antics an increasingly significant part of his career.
Did Mike Tyson have a dark side?
Tyson was arrested more times before his 13 birthday than many could ever dream of in their entire life. Always a troublemaker, Tyson learned to harness this into a successful boxing career. However, the violence never ended outside the ring. His ex-wife, Robin Givens, publicly spoke about his abusive tendencies, which Tyson later confirmed.
In 1991, Tyson was arrested once again after being accused of rape by an 18-year-old model named Desiree Washington. It derailed his boxing career for years and eventually landed him in prison.
Tyson’s public image was never the same after that. Although his financial scandals, in-ring hijinks, and penchant for saying the wrong thing continued, he got a career makeover in recent years leading up to his unlikely comeback in 2020. This is where Villacis’s work comes in.
How to be (or avoid being) like Mike
First up, there’s Mike Tyson’s infamous mantra that everybody has a plan “until they get punched in the face.” However, while this can be credited to his offensive boxing, it could also look at what he did to protect his image.
He is, after all, the man who once bit a man’s ear off when a fight wasn’t going his way. Adaptation is critical. It is something Tyson has worked on more in retirement as he pivoted from a controversial figure to a beloved icon.
Next up, Villacis explains how Tyson failed to grasp why he was fighting during his heyday. It is something that Tyson himself has spoken about many times. During one interview, he was predictably blunt about his strategy for overcoming this.
“Before it was all about me and the hot chick, the nice car, the planes and the boats, but that doesn’t do it for me anymore,” Tyson said (per Entrepreneur.com). “So I went another way.”
From seeking comfort where it is hard to find to the ability to keep punching despite whatever pitfalls life may throw your way, Tyson’s career is a testament to many things.
He is a man who has done things that are impossible for some to look forward to, but on the other hand, he has a knack for jumping back up. This is true in the boxing ring but also valid for his status as a celebrity.
For better or for worse, Tyson is still embracing his complicated standing within the public sphere. He might be more beloved than he’s ever been.
Right or wrong, he’s played the same machine that made him a villain and ridden it to an unlikely career after his official retirement. While he might be back in the ring now, Tyson’s most prominent legacy might be the way he grappled with everything outside it.