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Mike Tyson

Tyson, Mike (Michael Gerald Tyson), 1966–, American boxer, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. At the age of 12, Tyson was sent to reform school, where he began to box. In a whirlwind career begun in 1985 when he turned pro, his spare, brutal style (36 knockouts in his first 41 wins) rescued him from the ghetto and made him, at 20, history's youngest world heavyweight champion following his 1986 knockout of Trevor Berbick. His first loss (1990), to unheralded Buster Douglas, punctured "Iron Mike's" aura of invincibility.

Tyson's life since then has been marked by violence, instability, and antisocial behavior in and out of the ring. His conviction (1992) for the rape of a beauty contestant resulted in a sentence of 10 years in prison. Released in 1995, Tyson returned to boxing, winning the World Boxing Council title in 1996. The same year, however, he lost to Evander Holyfield, and in a 1997 rematch bit Holyfield's ear, for which he was temporarily banned from boxing. In 1999 he was briefly imprisoned in Maryland for assault. After he sparked a melee at a prefight conference with Lennox Lewis in 2002, Tyson was denied a license to fight by Nevada, and the bout relocated to Memphis, where Tyson lost. Subsequently, he was not a significant contender.

See his memoir, Undisputed Truth (with L. Sloman, 2013).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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