10 Little-Known Facts About Mike Tyson’s Rise To Fame
Mike Tyson, the iconic boxer, will go down in history for his outstanding career. How much do you know about his impressive rise to mainstream fame?
Mike Tyson will do down in history as one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. Of course, he will also go down in history as one of the most controversial celebs. Tyson first gained fame in the world of boxing. He dominated every fight he was in and eventually became the youngest heavyweight champion. At the same time, Tyson became infamous for his behavior out of the ring as well.
Tyson quickly became one of the most talked-about celebs in the world. Indeed, Tyson has many nicknames, including “Iron Mike” and “The Baddest Man On The Planet.” Of course, there are a few details fans might not know about Tyson. It’s time to take a closer look at Tyson’s rise to fame.
10 Tyson Hates Bullies But Loves Pigeons
Mike Tyson struggled throughout his childhood and youth. He never met his birth father, and his step-father walked out on the family. Later, his mother passed away, and Tyson’s coach Cus D’Amato became his guardian.
As a child, Tyson endured a great dealing of bullying because of his lisp and being overweight. He admits to getting revenge on those bullies when he got older. Of course, he also got picked on because of his love of pigeons. Tyson had few friends when he was a child and enjoyed feeding the pigeons. Tyson got into his first fight after a bully hurt one of his birds. He still has a deep fondness for pigeons.
9 Honorary Doctorate Despite Not Graduating From School
As a teenager, Mike Tyson began engaging in criminal activities. He was often getting into trouble, but it eventually led him into boxing. Tyson showed a lot of promise in his career from the start.
As an amateur, Tyson won gold at the Junior Olympics in 1981 and 1982. Tyson was never a fan of school, so he dropped out of high school to focus on his boxing career. In 1989, at the peak of his fame, Tyson received an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Central State University. He received the award despite never graduating from high school.
8 Joan Jett Gave Him A Wake-Up Before Each Fight
In 1985, Mike Tyson turned pro at the age of 18. Instantly, he went on a remarkable undefeated streak and dominated the competition. Tyson quickly gained attention for his skill and knockout power. In July, he easily defeated Larry Sims. However, an essential tradition began that morning.
Singer Joan Jett called him that morning for a unique wake up call. He attributed his win to the phone call, and it became a routine. Indeed, Jett called Tyson the morning of every fight, and he always won. In 1990, Jett was unable to call Tyson the morning he fought Buster Douglas in the Tokyo Dome. Of course, Douglas ended Tyson’s undefeated streak that night.
7 Avenging His Hero
Mike Tyson grew up a massive fan of boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Tyson met Ali when he was younger and became inspired to box as well. Tyson even considers Ali to be his hero. Therefore, he felt the need to gain some revenge for Ali.
In 1980, Larry Holmes defeated Ali in his final fight. Tyson was furious and vowed revenge when he became friends with Ali. In 1988, Tyson got that opportunity when he destroyed Holmes in a one-sided battle. Tyson was happy he could get a measure of revenge for his hero
6 Mike Tyson Punch-Out
In 1987, Mike Tyson became the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world after unifying the WBC, IBF, and WBA titles. He became a major celebrity and mainstream star. Indeed, “Tyson-Mania” was running wild.
That same year Nintendo released Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, which became an instant success. The game was top-rated and sold over a million copies. In 1990, Tyson replaced Michael Jordan as the wealthiest athlete in the world. Tyson’s life was perfect. Of course, that was all about to change.
5 Mike Tyson vs. Brad Pitt
On February 14, 1988, Mike Tyson married actress Robin Givens. At the time, Givens starred in the hit sitcom Head Of The Class. They were a high-profile couple that had a volatile and intense relationship. Givens claims Tyson was mentally and physically abusive. Tyson denied all claims.
During the marriage, Givens began a relationship with actor Brad Pitt. An unknown Pitt even appeared in Head Of The Class. Indeed, Tyson caught Pitt and Givens together as the marriage fell apart. Tyson admits he was furious and that Pitt was scared. Givens and Tyson’s marriage came to an end in 1989. Givens then openly dated Pitt.
4 Offered To Pay $10,000 To Punch A Gorilla Instead Of Training For Buster Douglas Fight
In the early 90s, Mike Tyson was the king of boxing. Despite his issues, he remained one of the wealthiest celebs. Of course, he still dominated the world of boxing and never backed down from a challenge. Not even from a gorilla. Tyson admits he once went to the zoo and saw a silverback gorilla bullying the other gorillas.
Tyson hates bullies, so he offered the zookeeper $10,000 to let him punch the silverback gorilla in the face. The zookeeper turned him down. Around this time, Tyson’s skills in the ring fell apart after changing up his team. In 1990, Tyson’s world came crashing down after he suffered his first loss in his career. Underdog Buster Douglas shockingly knocked out Tyson in Tokyo.
3 Tyson’s Comeback
Mike Tyson’s life continued to spiral out of control. In 1991, a judge sentenced Tyson to six years in prison for a physical assault on then 18-year-old Desiree Washington. Tyson claims the incident was consensual.
During his time in prison, Tyson took on the name Malik Abdul Aziz after converting to Islam. In 1995, he received an early release due to good behavior. Tyson wasted no time and quickly attempted a comeback. Of course, he was no longer the same fighter he once was.
2 The Ear Incident
Mike Tyson is known for making outrageous and controversial comments. Indeed, he regrets not killing someone during a fight. Of course, it wasn’t because of a lack of trying. In June 1997, Tyson took on World Champion Evander Holyfield in a rematch. During the third round, an enraged Tyson bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear.
In 2005, Tyson officially retired and admitted he lost his passion for fighting. Later, Tyson received praise for his role in the hit comedy The Hangover. He also made a few pro wrestling appearances for both the WWE and AEW. However, in 2020, Tyson shocked the world when he agreed to return for an exhibition fight against Roy Jones Jr. in November 2020.
1 Fan Letter That Broke Tyson’s Heart
Mike Tyson reinvented himself, and his reputation changed. He went from feared fighter to beloved celeb. After retiring, Tyson struggled with addiction and declared bankruptcy. Indeed, he discovered that promoter Don King cheated him out of his earnings. For instance, King put his daughter, Debbie, in charge of Tyson’s fan club.
Eventually, Tyson realized the fan club was a sham and discovered thousands of un-open letters. One fan letter, in particular, broke Tyson’s heart. He received a letter from a woman begging Tyson to call and speak to her son, who had cancer. Tyson called immediately only to find out the message was a year old, and the son had passed. Tyson was devastated and openly cried.