In his heyday, Michael Gerard Tyson, better known as Mike Tyson or ‘Iron Mike’, was undoubtedly one of the greatest boxers of all time, perhaps second only to Muhammad Ali. Tyson is also known, however, for his troubled personal life, his involvement in crime, and his drug use.
Tyson was born in New York in 1966 to Jimmy Kirkpatrick and Lorna Tyson. When Michael was two years old, his father left home, leaving Lorna to look after Michael, his brother Rodney, and sister Denise on her own. To make ends meet, Lorna was forced to move with her children to a poorer district, Brownsville, Brooklyn, which unfortunately also had a bad reputation for its high crime rate. At a certain point the family was even evicted from their home and often found themselves sleeping on the streets. Tyson was a small, shy boy with a speech impediment, and he was often bullied. As the years went by, in a desperate attempt to stop the bullying, he became increasingly aggressive, and soon found himself involved with a local gang. He committed his first robbery at the age of 11, and had been arrested more than 30 times by the time he was 13.
Tyson’s behaviour landed him in juvenile detention, where he met Bob Stewart, a former amateur boxing champion. Tyson asked Stewart to teach him how to box, and Stewart agreed, on the condition that he worked harder at school and stayed out of trouble. This was how Mike’s obsession with boxing began. He learned incredibly fast, and when Stewart realised that he had taught Tyson everything he had to teach, he introduced him to legendary boxing manager Constantine D'Amato, also known as Cus, who owned a gym in Catskill, New York.