Mike Tyson: Twenty-Years of ‘Iron’ Mike
By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (March 6, 2005)  
‘Iron’ Mike Tyson
Michael Gerard Tyson, born June 30th 1966 in Brooklyn, New York, was a boy without a father, a man without conviction, a champion with a tarnished crown, and devastating in all he had done. From his days growing up in the gang filled streets of Brownsville, New York, to his reign in the hardest hitting division in boxing, he was truly rough, rugged and refused to play by the rules. Whether it cost him his fortune, fame, freedom or reputation, Tyson was just simply Tyson. One of the most controversial figures in the history of the fistic family, and from now for evermore the legend of what has become ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson will live on.

After multiple bouts with crime, time in the hardcore streets and a youth center, the troubled lad was introduced in 1980 to the man that would help shape his early career in the ring. Cus D’Amato, a world renowned trainer and manager, took on the boy and transformed him into a hard hitting devil of destruction in the ring. Throwing down toe-to-toe in the amateurs, Tyson would demonstrate his awesome power and speed against his opposition and fought his way to a 24-3 amateur record, just missing out on making the team for the ’84 LA Olympics. After his stint in the amateur ranks Tyson would make his run at heavyweight stardom and step in the professional ranks to make his mark on the boxing world.

Thus, the legend began.

March 6th 1985 at the Plaza Convention Center in Albany, New York, the 5’10 ½” 214 pound heavyweight prospect would make his debut and step in the ring with 0-1 Puerto recon fighter Hector Mercedes. 1:47 in the first round the ‘Iron’ one would stop his opponent with his dismantling power and embark on the journey that would lead him to the top and drop him to the bottom and bring him once again right back to the middle. Eight months after his debut Tyson’s mentor and trainer Cus D’Amato would die leaving Tyson without that ‘father figure’. Tyson had a total of fifteen bouts, twenty-two rounds, all wins by knockout and had stopped eleven opponents in the opening round in the year of 1985. His power, speed, unmerciful combinations transformed the prospect into a powerhouse head-pounding heavyweight.

1986 would start just as ’85 ended, with a first round knockout for the heavy-handed Tyson, who was tearing a path through the division with his vicious onslaught of brute strength and relentless style dropping the likes of Jessie Ferguson (TKO #6), James Tillis (UD #10), Marvis Frazier (KO #1). Mike seemed invincible. This was Tyson’s year to bring the late Cus D’Amato’s dream to reality and in late November of ’86 Tyson fought his last fight of the year at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, which was soon to be history in the making. The twenty year old Tyson was stepping in the ring with heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick who was defending his WBC title for the first time since winning it eight months prior. It only took two rounds to dethrone the champion and crown the still undefeated Mike Tyson and make him the youngest heavyweight at twenty years four months and twenty-two days old.

Four months later at the same arena where Tyson was crowned the first time he would compete in one of the most boring bouts of his career when he got the go ahead over James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith to tack on the WBA heavyweight title. Just two fights later Tyson established his dominance over the division when he defeated Tony Tucker for his IBF title, thus earning ‘Iron’ Mike the reigning undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Even though Tyson fought only four times in 1987, they all were title fights.

1988 was upon us and oh what a year it was for Tyson, with glory in the ring and troubles out of it. Tyson only fought a total of seven rounds that all ended with knock outs that year. Heavyweight great Larry Holmes would come out of retirement to try his jab against the young Tyson, but three knockdowns later Holmes would be just another Tyson victim. Tyson would completely destroy and humiliate Michael Spinks in ninety-one seconds in their June bout, but that same year Tyson would probably face one of his most cutthroat opponents when on February 9th 1988 he married actress Robin Givens. Eight months later after a much highlighted outrageous marriage, the Tyson-Givens matrimony was over. Tyson defended his crown twice in 1989 but after nine successful title defenses Tyson was about to face defeat and his aura of invincibility was about to be shattered.

1990-Year of the Upset

Untested, unproven, unknown heavyweight James ‘Buster’ Douglas was all set to be another easy victim for Tyson and it was all set to go down in Tokyo, Japan, on February 11th 1990. After a heated battle Tyson would hit the canvas and taste defeat in round ten, prompting one of boxing’s biggest upsets. Tyson would round out the year with two first round knockouts but his image wasn’t the same.

For the first five years of the highly publicized career of Tyson he would bang out a 30-1 (35) record, including nineteen knockouts in the first round, he would become the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history, get married become divorced, defend his title nine times and take part in a big time upset. Tyson was a phenomenon, an intimidator, a killer in the ring and a trouble magnet out of it, but the era of Tyson had just begun…

Stay tuned for 1991-1995.

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