Skip to main content

It’s a given the former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was one of the hardest punchers in the ring. He was as tough as they come and never backed down from anyone. Outside the ring, Tyson maintained his tough-as-nails persona, but he also has shown he has a sense of humor. Tyson, widely recognized for his lisp, has always found a way to laugh at himself, oftentimes making fun of his speech impediment.

An incident at 7 years old that may have shaped Mike Tyson’s life

Mike Tyson remembers an incident that still sticks with him. He was 7 years old when it happened and he believes it played a role in him always wanting to hurt people. He hinted how it may have also played a role in him landing in prison.

“I was a pudgy kid, very shy, and I spoke with a lisp. The kids called me ‘Little Fairy Boy,'” Tyson said in a 2014 interview in The Guardian. “Once, my mother was fighting with this guy, Eddie, and it’s barbaric. Eddie knocked out her gold tooth and me and Denise (his sister) are screaming. But my mother’s real slick. She puts on a pot of boiling water.”

Tyson recalled his mother pouring the boiling water on Eddie and then seeing blisters on Eddie’s face and back. Tyson’s sister sterilized a needle and then burst the blisters. Tyson remembers giving Eddie a quarter to help make him feel better and then recalls Eddie going to the store and buying alcohol for Tyson’s mother. “So you see,” Tyson said, “he rewarded her for it. That’s why I was so sexually dysfunctional.”

Mike Tyson’s boxing and prison life

Mike Tyson went on to eventually become the heavyweight boxing champion of the world and he did it at the age of 20 – the youngest boxer to do so. He was a beast in the ring, winning his first 19 pro fights by knockout, 12 coming in the first round. He won the first 37 bouts of his professional career.

Tyson went on to win 50 of his 58 professional fights. He won 44 of the 50 by knockout. He lost six and had a pair of no contests. His boxing career was highlighted by wins over Michael Spinks and Larry Holmes but was interrupted by a three-year gap when he had to spend time in prison for rape. Prior to heading to prison, Tyson’s record was 41-1.

In February of 1992, Tyson was convicted of the rape charge and was sent to prison. He was released in March of 1995. He began his boxing comeback with a win by disqualification over Peter McNeeley on Aug. 19, 1995. His boxing career, however, was never the same. After the McNeeley bout, he won just eight more fights, while losing five, including back-to-back losses to Evander Holyfield.

Tyson’s sense of humor

Despite Mike Tyson’s tough upbringing, he’s been able to poke fun at himself. Throughout his career, Tyson has been constantly made fun of because of his lisp. He’s been the subject of social media memes because of his speech impediment. On numerous occasions, Tyson has joined in, making of the way he talks.

In 2016, Tyson, in a Twitter post, was advertising some limited-edition shirts that were being sold. Those shirts mocked the boxer’s speech impediment. The shirts had a cartoon version of the boxer with the words “Thuns out, guns out” and Tyson was wearing one of them while flexing his muscles.

Four years ago, after the unexpected death of singer Prince, Tyson poked more fun of himself in another social media post. Tyson superimposed his face on the singer’s body with the caption, “Like the world I mourn but celebrate your spirit with your music.” Above his head, he put the word “Printhe.”