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Mike Tyson saw his net worth peak at $300 million during his days as boxing’s most dominant fighter. He had it all. But as quickly as the wealth came, it left. The former heavyweight champion declared bankruptcy in 2003. Tyson, who is ready to step back into the ring at 54 against Roy Jones Jr., revealed how he was able to overcome being bankrupt.

Mike Tyson was on top of the world

At 20 years old, Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion of the world. He was boxing. People paid to watch him fight, while many fighters feared him. He packed a powerful punch and was the king of knockouts.

Tyson knocked out the first 19 fighters in his professional career. Not only did ‘Iron Mike’ knock them out, but he also did so quickly. Twelve of those 19 knockouts happened in the first round.

Tyson was the undisputed heavyweight champion from 1987-90. He won his first 37 fights before shockingly getting knocked out by James ‘Buster’ Douglas in February of 1990. Tyson went on to win 50 professional fights, finishing his career with a 50-6 mark. Of those 50 victories, 44 came via knockout.

Tyson files for bankruptcy in 2003

After Mike Tyson was defeated by James ‘Buster’ Douglas in 1990, he bounced back to win his next four fights before he was sentenced to prison. Tyson was charged with rape and served three years in prison before getting back into the ring. He won his first bout after his release, knocking out Peter McNeeley. Tyson won his next three fights before losing two straight fights to Evander Holyfield and going 5-5 for the rest of his career.

In 2003, Tyson filed bankruptcy. A New York Times article stated he had made $400 million in the last 20 years but still managed to blow it all. According to the article, Tyson had $23 million in debts. At the time, Tyson owed $13.4 million to the Internal Revenue Service. He owed $600,000 to several law firms, $500,000 to his financial manager, $800,000 to a former trainer, and the list went on and on.

Tyson claimed he had been struggling financially since 1998. ”I have been in financial distress since 1998,” Tyson said in an affidavit, ”when I was burdened with substantial debt to Showtime, taxing authorities and parties to litigation. Since that time, although my fight income, various asset sales and litigation recoveries have enabled me to pay a lot of my debt, I am still unable to pay my bills.”

Tyson explains how he handled bankruptcy

In an episode of his podcast, Hotboxin’ With Mike Tyson, Tyson said he was $60 million in debt. He said there was an easy way for him to get out of that debt – by not paying it. “I had everything and now I’m $60 million in debt,” Tyson said. “For some reason, they thought I was trying to make a deal to get out of this bankruptcy. They thought I was going to fight it, but I had no intention of fighting it.

“I kept paying a little bit at a time. I’d make some money and I’d pay them and then next thing you know I would owe the money for so long they would say, ‘you’ve owed us for so long so we’re gonna decline you owing us this.’ So they would take seven or five million off. That’s how it was getting down. And so they said, ‘look, we’re gonna take this off, too.’ I wound up owing them two million dollars and I paid it and it was over.

“They just kept taking it down. ‘You haven’t paid this in seven months. If you don’t pay this in seven months, we’ll take 20 million off’ or something like that. How can they do that? Aren’t they supposed to take everything? I was living in mansions. They’re supposed to take all that s–t. How does that happen? They never came to take anything.”

All statistics courtesy of BoxRec.


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