The early life of former boxing champion Mike Tyson is a life full of painful hits. From his early life of crime on the streets of Brooklyn, New York to his world heavyweight champion achievement. In recent news, the former boxer has announced that his one-man show titled Undisputed Truth will be performed in September at the Air Canada Centre. In addition, the latest talk is that a biography movie of the athlete’s life is in the works with actor Jamie Foxx slated to portray Tyson. Both the stage and silver screen are prepping to tell the undisputed tale of the bad boy of boxing.
On June 30, 1966, Mike Tyson was born in Brooklyn, New York. When the future heavyweight champ was a just a toddler his father, Jimmy Kirkpatrick left the family to fend for themselves. Tyson’s mother Lorna struggled to care for him and his siblings and with mounting financial problems the family relocated to a well-known high crime neighborhood called Brownsville.
Michael was an introverted boy and often found himself as the main target for bullies. To help keep bullies away he developed his street fighting skills. His style of fighting eventually lead to his life as a young criminal. At age eleven he joined a gang and his job in the gang was to take the money from registers while the older members help people at gunpoint. His petty crimes lead to over thirty arrests by the time he was thirteen years old.
As the boxing champ recalls, his mother would bring her baggage to the house and often he and his siblings were left on their own. Often she would have to sleep with other men in order to get money to keep a roof over their heads. There would also be days where she would be passed out from drinking the night before and she was in no condition to walk Tyson to school. These are just a few of the hits that Mike Tyson had to take during his early life
After a few years of bad behavior, Tyson was sent to upstate New York to a reform school called the Tryon School for Boys. This is where Tyson met Bob Stewart, a former amateur boxing champion turned counselor. Tyson asked Stewart to show him the ways of boxing. Stewart agreed, but only if he promised to stay away from crime and do well in school. Though in the past he had been classified with a learning disability, Mike Tyson was able to buckle down and increase his reading level up to a seventh-grade level quickly. He also grew a strong determination to learn the art of boxing. He was so driven that often shadow boxed in the darkness of his room while others slept.
In the year of 1980, Stewart could clearly see how determined his young boxing student was, so he introduced him to a manager named Constantine “Cus” D’Amato, who not only ran a Catskill, New York gym, but who has managed the careers of many successful fighters. Two of those fighters were Jose Torres and Floyd Patterson. D’Amato could also see that Tyson had the skill and potential to become a success in the sport, so he took him under his wing.
The bond between D’Amato and Tyson was not just a trainer and a fighter; it was also a father and son relationship. In September of 1980, D’Amato got full-time custody of the fourteen-year-old. Aside from setting up training sessions for the young athlete, Tyson also started attending Catskill High School. D’Amato entered Tyson in non-pro boxing matches and in matches known as the “smokers,” which gave the young fighter chances to get in the ring with fighters older than him.
Just when it seemed that the former criminal was having a new lease on life a great tragedy came his way. In 1982, Tyson’s mother Lorna passed away after losing a battle to cancer. What hurt the young boxer more was that she had died before he got the chance to grow their relationship. Never once did the boxer ever hear her say that she was proud of anything that he did. According to Tyson, this does not affect him professionally but personally and emotionally it crushes him.
After his mother died, Tyson went back into behaving badly, which lead to being kicked out of Catskill High School. The talented boxer continue schoolwork work with private tutors. Tutoring sessions would take place while during training for the 1984 Olympic trials. The trails did not go well and Tyson lost to future gold medalist, Henry Tillman. After failing to make the US Olympic boxing team, D’Amato made the decision for Tyson to turn professional. A plan was laid out by D’Amato that would take Tyson to the the heavyweight championship before he turned twenty-one.
At age twenty, Tyson became the youngest boxer in history to win the world heavyweight championship in 1986. No fighter has been able to beat that record in recent years. Tyson’s success did not last long though. The 1990s saw the boxer spend time in prison for rape charges and a bad rap was earned after biting the ear of opponent Evander Holyfield in a rematch. In spite of it all, the former athlete still has a presence that gets acknowledged, appearing in several movies, such as the hit comedy The Hangover. The recent news of a one-man show and a possible biographical film, it appears that Mike Tyson is more than ready to talk about his life full of hits.
By Andrew Cerecedes