Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson had it rough growing up. For Tyson, it was the norm, growing up in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. After his mother died when he was 16, Tyson fell into the care of his legendary trainer Cus D’Amato. Tyson was recently asked about his father. Tyson didn’t know a whole lot about the man they said was his father, but the boxing champ said he wanted to be mean to him.
Mike Tyson’s early life
In Mike Tyson’s memoir, The Undisputed Truth, the boxer said he was arrested 38 times by the age of 13. He spent his early teen years at the Tryon School for Boys, a juvenile detention center. It was there, however, where his boxing ability was discovered.
A former boxer and counselor at the school, Bobby Stewart, worked with him and eventually set him up with Cus D’Amato. D’Amato was a big-time boxing trainer who saw the promise in Tyson as a boxer. When Tyson’s mother died when he was 16, D’Amato became his legal guardian.
Tyson’s biological father was never in the picture. The man who Tyson came to know as his father was Jimmy Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick, too, was rarely involved in Tyson’s life. Kirkpatrick died in 1992.
Mike Tyson rises to stardom
On March 6, 1985, Mike Tyson made his professional boxing debut. He defeated Hector Mercedes with a first-round knockout. That knockout was a sign of things to come. Tyson won his first 19 fights with every one of them coming via knockout. Twelve of those knockouts came in the first round.
Tyson became the youngest heavyweight boxing champion at the age of 20. He won the first 37 fights of his career before he suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of James ‘Buster’ Douglas. Despite spending three years in prison on a rape charge, Tyson went on to finish his career with a 50-6 record. Of those 50 victories, 44 were knockouts.
Tyson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame. He was one of the most feared boxers of his time. Nine times in his career, Tyson successfully defended his titles.
Tyson was asked about his father
On a recent episode of the podcast “Hotboxin’ With Mike Tyson,” Tyson was asked about his father. Sportscaster Jim Gray was in the studio and asked the former heavyweight champion if he knew his father. “Not well,” Tyson said. “I knew the man who they said my father was.”
Gray asked Tyson if he ever had a conversation with that man. He asked if he ever admitted he was Tyson’s father. “Well I’m champion of the world, of course he’s going to say yes,” Tyson answered. “Never before then. I just took it as he’s my father. I did get to know him a little, asking him questions and stuff. It was pretty grim stuff. He was a dark guy and stuff.”
Gray then asked if it was weird for someone to walk into your life as heavyweight champion and say he’s your father. Tyson offered a long pause. “Hey, I wanted to be mean to him and stuff, you know. But I wasn’t angry at him.” Tyson said the man, Jimmy Kirkpatrick, didn’t have a great relationship with his mother. “They didn’t speak to each other,” Tyson said. “They just handed me over when they were finished with me.”
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