Tyson had some less-than-stellar performances — Buster Douglas, for example — and controversy has followed him later in his career, like when he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear. But Tyson has still cemented his legacy as one of the best boxers ever. And he’s fought more times than you’d guess.
Mike Tyson’s early life
Tyson was born in Brooklyn in 1966. His father abandoned the family around that time. After a number of run-ins with the law, Tyson attended the Tryon School for Boys. There, counselor and former boxer Bobby Stewart discovered the youngster’s emerging boxing ability and introduced him to boxing trainer Cus D’Amato.
The trainer looked after the future pugilist, becoming his legal guardian when Tyson’s mother died when he was 16. Tyson started his amateur boxing career after dropping out of high school as a junior. He won gold at the Junior Olympic Games in 1981 and 1982. In 1984, Tyson won gold in the heavyweight division at the Summer Olympics in LA.
Tyson’s boxing career
Tyson had an impressive career as a professional boxer. Officially, he went 50-6 with two no-contests. Exactly 44 of his victories were knockouts; half of those losses came in the final four fights of his career, well past his prime.
Tyson held a number of world titles, including being the undisputed heavyweight champion. But those numbers don’t tell the whole story of his fighting. In a recent interview with Tony Robbins, Tyson recalled how he got into boxing. He discussed how many fights he’s had — and it’s a lot more than the 58 bouts in his pro career.
Tyson estimates that he probably competed in about 400 fights outside of his pro career. He gets this number by considering all of the fights from his early years and throughout his amateur career.
Tyson’s struggles and controversies
Tyson’s life started out rough, growing up in crime-ridden neighborhoods and getting in trouble with the law himself. That continued throughout his life. In 1991, he was arrested for the rape of 18-year-old Desiree Washington, Miss Black Rhode Island, in an Indianapolis hotel room.
Tyson was convicted of the charge and sentenced to six years in jail. But he was released in 1995 after serving less than half the sentence. He re-entered boxing after receiving parole. In 1997, during his second fight with Holyfield, Tyson got disqualified for biting his opponent’s ears. Then, in 2003, Tyson filed for bankruptcy after years of financial struggles.
In a 2005 interview with USA Today, Tyson said his “whole life has been a waste” and called himself a “failure.” He retired from boxing in 2006. Later that year, police arrested him in Arizona on suspicion of DUI and felony drug possession — after he nearly crashed his vehicle into a police SUV post-nightclub.
While awaiting trial on those charges, Tyson checked himself into an inpatient treatment program for “various addictions.” His most recent controversy came when the former world champ announced he will return to the boxing ring in September. The 54-year-old plans to fight 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition bout on pay-per-view.