The long, winding road that brought Mike Tyson back to boxing


Fifty-four-year-old Mike Tyson will enter a boxing ring on Saturday to compete for the first time in more than 15 years. His scheduled eight-round exhibition against Roy Jones Jr., 51, will elicit mixed emotions, including curiosity, concerns for safety, passion for one of the greatest heavyweights ever and anger over someone with a troubled past.

For many fans, it will be the first time watching Tyson fight, outside of highlight videos.

For others, it will be another chapter in one of the most unique stories in sports, from historic heights as a boxing champion to bottoming out in an Indiana prison.

Will Tyson’s boxing journey come to an end Saturday at Staples Center? Tyson has hinted that he might not be done. When asked by First Take’s Max Kellerman in July why he was stepping back into the ring, Tyson gave a simple answer. It’s the same reason he has fought since the very beginning, when he was getting into scrapes in Brooklyn during his childhood.

“It’s because I can do it.”


Mike Tyson was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 30, 1966. A young Tyson was arrested 38 times for petty crimes by the time he was 13 years old, according to Tyson’s 2013 memoir “Undisputed Truth.” During one of his early stints in the penal system, his boxing potential was discovered by Bobby Stewart, a juvenile detention center counselor who eventually introduced Tyson to boxing manager and trainer Cus D’Amato.

As an amateur, Tyson won gold medals at the 1981 and 1982 Junior Olympic Games, including a head-turning performance in 1982 in Colorado that featured an eight-second knockout and a dominant victory in the finals.

Tyson was expelled from Catskill High School in 1982, the year his mother died. In 1984, D’Amato became Tyson’s legal guardian.

1985-1987: Early career

Tyson’s first professional fight happened on March 6, 1985, in Albany, New York. Tyson, who was 18, knocked out Hector Mercedes in the first round of a scheduled four-round bout.

In just over a year (a year and four days, to be precise), Tyson racked up 19 consecutive knockout victories, with no fight going beyond the sixth round. That included a stretch from Aug. 15, 1985, through Jan 11, 1986, in which Tyson fought 10 times and recorded nine first-round KOs and one second-round KO. Over the first four-plus years of his career, Tyson worked closely with trainer Kevin Rooney, who rose to prominence under D’Amato.

D’Amato died of pneumonia on Nov. 4, 1985, just three days after Tyson pushed his professional record to 11-0. Tyson fought again on Nov. 13.

Tyson’s KO streak ended in his 20th fight, as James Tillis took Tyson the distance in a 10-round bout on May 3, 1986. Mitch Green would do the same 17 days later, but Tyson then rattled off seven more KOs in a row — culminating in his first…



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