Michael Gerard “Mike” Tyson was born on June 30, 1966, in Brooklyn, New York. His father was listed on his birth certificate as Percell Tyson, but Mike considers Jimmy Kirkpatrick his true father because Kirkpatrick was living with his mother, Lorna Smith Tyson, at the time of his birth. Shortly thereafter, Kirkpatrick abandoned Mike, along with his mother, brother, and sister.
Mike Tyson was exposed to a criminal element early in his life while living in high crime areas. He indulged in petty thefts and fighting. His high voice and lisp were a frequent catalyst to engage in fisticuffs on the street, which he did often. By the time he was 13, he had been arrested more than three dozen times. He was reprimanded to the custody of a juvenile detention center in Johnstown, N.Y., where he began to hone his boxing skills.
When Mike as only 16, his mother passed away and he was all but left in the custody of Cus D’Amato, someone who became a true father figure to him. D’Amato was a boxing trainer who took young Mike under his wing, seeing the potential in the future champ.
Tyson’s sister died of a heart attack at the age of 24. His brother went on to become a doctor’s assistant at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. He and Mike have remained in contact with one another, although their visits are infrequent. He also considers Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick, son of Jimmy Kirkpatrick, his half brother.
In 1981 and 1982, Mike Tyson won Gold Medals at the Junior Olympics. He was also the 1984 National Golden Gloves Champion, although he did lose two amateur bouts to Henry Tillman, who eventually won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Tyson’s Professional Career
Mike Tyson’s professional debut was as an 18 year old boxer in 1985. His first 19 professional bouts all resulted in wins, with 12 of them being decided in the first round. He went on to win 26 of his first 28 professional bouts by knockout or technical knockout, with 16 of those being in the fight’s initial round.
Tyson’s first title bout was for the WBC Championship in 1986. His opponent was Trevor Berbick, whom he easily knocked out in the second round. He added the WBA belt with a unanimous decision over James Smith in 1987 and added to the collection by defeating IBF champ Tony Tucker by another unanimous conclusion.
Due to these title fights and his success, Tyson was named Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the Year and both 1986 and 1988.
Tyson Builds a Reputation
Tyson’s positive notoriety began with a 91-second knockout of reigning heavyweight champion Michael Spinks in 1988. He went on to defend that crown successfully on nine more occasions. These included triumphs over Frank Bruno, a renowned fighter from Britain, and Larry Holmes, who went on to compile a career mark of 69-6 with 44 KO’s.
Tyson’s life took a turn for the worse when he was upset by James “Buster” Douglas in a 1990 championship match. Douglas pummeled Tyson into submission and a round 10 knockout. Afterwards, the now former world champion attempted a comeback. He beat Donovan Ruddock twice in 1991, but then had to withdraw from a scheduled bout with the reigning heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield due to an injury.
Tyson’s Fall from Grace
Less than a year later, Tyson was charged and convicted of rape and served three years of a six year sentence. Another comeback attempt followed his release and he once again captured the WBC and WBA titles by defeating Frank Bruno again and Bruce.
Even after a somewhat successful comeback after being released from prison, Mike Tyson could not escape the negative public perception of him following his 1992 rape conviction. Allegations of continued abuse toward women followed him, including during his first marriage to actress Robin Givens.
Tyson was again incarcerated for a year after being convicted of assaulting two motorists during a road rage incident in Las Vegas. He has been convicted of at least two DUIs and other minor drug possession charges during his fall from grace.
He filed for bankruptcy in 2003 and officially retired from professional boxing in 2006, following another comeback attempt.
Later Professional Career
Two of Tyson’s most memorable fights involved Evander Holyfield. In 1996, the heavily favored Tyson lost to Holyfield and in the 1997 rematch, Tyson was disqualified for biting off part of Holyfield’s ear.
After being stripped of the WBC crown and losing the WBA to Evander Holyfield in 1996 and 1997, “Iron Mike” who had began his career as “Kid Dynamite” was no longer “The Baddest Man on the Planet”.