The Shady Side Of Mike Tyson

The following article includes mentions of sexual assault, domestic abuse, and substance abuse. 

Mike Tyson had an unbelievable boxing career that began when he was only a teen in 1985 and lasted until he was almost 40. With nicknames like "Iron Mike," and "The Baddest Man on the Planet," it's no wonder that Tyson is still considered one of the greatest boxers of all time. Not only was the New York City native the undisputed world heavyweight champ from 1987 through 1990, but at age 20, he also became the youngest boxer ever to win the title.

Despite his impressive career, Tyson has had a difficult personal life seemingly since day one. The boxing star had a very tough upbringing and has been arrested multiple times. Most notably, he was convicted of rape, did prison time, and openly used drugs, to name just a few of the problems that plagued him over the years. Because of all these problems and his infamous anger issues, you could say Tyson has, well ... a shady side. He doesn't seem to be too apologetic for it either, usually denying serious accusations or claiming he doesn't regret some of his more questionable choices.

These days, though, it seems Tyson has managed to stay out of trouble. He even told the New York Post in 2021, "People see the difference [in me]... If you knew me in 1989 you knew a different person." He did credit that change to psychedelic toad venom, so it seems his sketchy side is somewhat intact. Let's break it down.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Mike Tyson was arrested 38 times before age 13

It seems Mike Tyson didn't have the easiest start in life. He had a tough childhood where he often found himself getting into trouble. According to Bleacher Report, the boxer's "father abandoned him" when he was only 2 years old, and living in a high-crime area in Brooklyn, Tyson had to learn to fight at an early age. He revealed on the "Hotboxin' with Mike Tyson" podcast, "That's all we did in Brooklyn, is fight. ... 'You did this, you did that.' 'I didn't do any–' fight, fight." He told Valuetainment things got so bad that he "must've had three or four [street] fights a day," adding, "I was fighting the kid, then fighting their fathers."

Tyson also claimed in his book "Undisputed Truth" (via The U.S. Sun), that by age 11, he had already tried cocaine, and by age 13, he had been arrested 38 times. He dished on the "IMPAULSIVE" podcast that those charges stemmed from "Burglaries, pickpocketing, snatching jewelry." He continued, "One-punch knockout, go in their pocket, robbery."

Yet the boxer did admit that he hated disappointing his mother, saying, "I didn't want to let my mother down. My mother really did a lot. ... Always going to police stations to get my a** out." Sadly, she died when Tyson was only 16. He dished (via Bleacher Report), "I never saw my mother happy with me and proud of me ... She only knew me as being a wild kid running the streets."

He admitted to domestic abuse

At just 22 years old, Mike Tyson married actor Robin Givens in 1988. The marriage proved to be a disaster — they divorced only months later in 1989, with Givens accusing Tyson of abuse. She told Barbara Walters (via Newsweek) that being married to Tyson was "torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could possibly imagine." She even detailed some of their interactions, saying, "He shakes. He pushes. He swings. Sometimes I think he's trying to scare me. ... I've become afraid. I mean very, very much afraid."

Even after their split, Givens told People, "I remember my ex-husband calling up and saying, 'I've decided I'm not going to kill you. I'm going to make your life so miserable you're going to slit your own throat and die.'" Tyson, for his part, admitted to the abuse but also put some blame on Givens. He told Oprah Winfrey (via People), "I have socked her before, and she socked me before, as well. It was just that kind of relationship."

Years after their divorce, Givens was still reeling from the relationship. She claimed Tyson slandered her on podcasts and in his book, "Undisputed Truth."  In 2020, The U.S. Sun reported that she even sent him a "cease and desist" aimed at preventing him from depicting her negatively in his future film biopic. A letter from her attorneys stated, "While [she] has attempted to move on, she still finds herself fighting the abusive, demeaning and false accounts of their relationship by Mr. Tyson nearly 35 years later."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Mike Tyson was convicted of rape

In 1992, Mike Tyson was convicted of rape after being arrested the year before in July. According to Newsweek, college student Desiree Washington claimed that the boxer raped her after he invited her back to his hotel room at the Canterbury Hotel in Indianapolis. She had met him earlier at a rehearsal for the Miss Black America pageant, in which she was competing. Washington went to the emergency room the following day and reported the sexual assault to the police.

Tyson's trial was arguably a media circus and dominated headlines at the time. It eventually ended with him being convicted of one count of rape, one count of criminal confinement, and two counts of criminal deviate conduct, per Indianapolis Monthly. The athlete was sentenced to 10 years in prison, suspended after four. He went on to only serve three years, though, per The U.S. Sun, getting out early for good behavior. He also had to pay a $30,000 fine and register as a sex offender for life.

Despite being convicted, Tyson told the judge before his sentencing, per Newsweek, "I have not raped anyone, tried to rape anyone by any means. I'm sorry for Miss Washington as a person. I by no means meant to hurt her." As of this writing, he hasn't changed his tune. He wrote in his memoir, "Undisputed Truth," "I did not rape Desiree Washington. She knows it, God knows it, and the consequences of her actions are something that she's got to live with for the rest of her life."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The boxer had a ball in prison

Mike Tyson wasn't only unapologetic toward the woman he was convicted of raping, but he also bragged about enjoying his punishment for it. The boxer revealed on the "Hotboxin' with Mike Tyson'" podcast, "I thought that this was the worst thing that could happen to a human being. ... I had a ball in prison." He elaborated, saying, "I had a girlfriend and I got a girl pregnant in prison. I was living a life in prison." Tyson also admitted in his book "Undisputed Truth" (via The Daily Mail) that through fan visits he was "having so much sex that I was too tired to even to go the gym."

The Brooklyn native did tell "Vlad TV" that he got "in trouble like the first six months ... cursing, getting written up," but then things got better. He dished, "Next thing you know, I'm dating one of the counsel workers now, she's letting me have sex with her now." He added that this liaison helped him earn his GED, which took time off his sentence. He explained that he was "giving her money and doing really some nasty stuff to her, and she let me pass this test."

On "Hotboxin," Tyson revealed that this wasn't his only tryst with a woman who worked at the prison, adding, "Anybody gave me what I want. ... I was just a pig." Things were so good that he claimed on "Sit Down With Michael Franzese," "When I did that three years, I didn't want to leave."

Mike Tyson bit an opponent's ear off

Mike Tyson was involved in one of the most infamous moments in sports history when he bit off a piece of fellow boxer Evander Holyfield's right ear during a 1997 fight. The boxers were competing for the WBA world heavyweight championship before Tyson was disqualified following the incident. Tyson later told Fox News that he did it because Holyfield had head-butted him. Tyson revealed, "I bit him because I wanted to kill him. I was really mad about my head being bumped."

It seems Tyson may regret it, though, since he added, "I really lost consciousness of the whole fight. It took me out of my fight plan and everything." The boxer was not only disqualified from that fight but was also fined $3 million and banned from boxing for 18 months, according to ESPN. It probably didn't help that after the biting, Tyson kept fighting, even reportedly swinging at the police officer who entered the ring amidst the chaos, per Newsweek. Tyson acknowledged that incident in his book, "Undisputed Truth." "People were pulling me and blocking me and [Holyfield] was standing in his corner," he wrote, adding, "I was still trying to get at him. I had fifty people on me and I was still fighting the cops."

Despite all the trouble that resulted from his actions, Tyson told Fox News in 2020, "I might do it again," adding, "Well if he does what he was doing to get bitten, I would bite him again. Yeah."

He was arrested again after prison

Mike Tyson appears to have had a hard time staying out of handcuffs because he got arrested multiple times after his three-year prison stint for rape. In 1998, specifically, a fender bender led to the boxer being arrested for assault. The then-32-year-old Tyson had been rear-ended while sitting at a red light and got out of his car to confront the two drivers behind him. According to The Baltimore Sun, the athlete punched then-62-year-old Abmielec Saucedo "in the face" and kicked then-50-year-old Richard Hardick "in the groin."

Despite Tyson asking for leniency to save his career, the judge sentenced him to what amounted to one year in prison, calling the incident "a tragic example of potentially lethal road rage." The judge felt that Tyson had "lashed out at two innocent people" and that he could have seriously hurt them if his bodyguards hadn't intervened since he has "the hands and feet of a professional fighter" (per the Los Angeles Times).

In 2006, Tyson was back behind bars again after being pulled over in Arizona "for driving erratically." ESPN reports that the athlete was subsequently arrested on DUI and drug possession charges. This time was a little different from Tyson's past arrests in that he not only confessed to being an addict but also admitted his guilt. He told the judge, "I had possession of cocaine, and I drove under the influence," and he checked himself into a treatment program.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Mike Tyson struggled with drug use

Mike Tyson struggled with addiction for most of his life. According to The U.S. Sun, in the height of his drug use, he would engage in dangerous behavior like attempting "to fight a gorilla in a zoo" or walking his tigers around shirtless. He admitted on the podcast "Eddie Hearn: No Passion, No Point" in 2020, "Cocaine was a hell of a drug, and back then I was out of my mind living crazy."

Tyson's addiction also impacted his career. Not only did he write in his book "Undisputed Truth" that he was high on cocaine and marijuana during some fights, but also that he "had to use my whizzer, which was a fake penis where you put in someone's clean urine to pass your drug test." In 2016, he revealed on "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" that he was even "high on cocaine" while shooting the movie "The Hangover." He explained, "They had to know I was messed up because I couldn't even talk. I had the cocaine talk."

The boxer recalled one of his lowest points to Las Vegas Weekly, which happened in a hotel room with prostitutes and drugs. He dished, "I've got seven women there, and I have a morphine drip, and I had my cocaine." He continued, "I started beating them. I was in a dark place." These days, Tyson admits to using marijuana and the psychedelic toad venom. He told the New York Post that the latter led him to "look at the world differently."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

He squandered away his millions

Mike Tyson was once one of the richest athletes in the world. Yet, he eventually managed to blow his $400 million fortune and had to declare bankruptcy in 2003. It seems that Tyson splurged on lavish and probably unnecessary purchases like his two $140,000 pet tigers, per The Washington Post. Then there was the $2 million bathtub he gifted ex-wife Robin Givens, his $173,000 diamond chain, and the $410,000 birthday party. Not to mention the Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Bentley he owned, per The U.S. Sun. Let's also not forget Tyson had expensive illegal habits like cocaine and prostitutes. He even revealed on the "Today" show, "I was a prostitute hunter."

Then there were Tyson's legal fees and fines from his multiple arrests, as well as two very expensive divorces which, according to Sportscasting, cost him over $16 million. The boxer also blames those who used him for money, saying during a 2013 conference (via CNN), "I can't even call them leeches. That's too decent of a word."

Tyson admitted that things got so bad at one point that he was $23 million in debt and owed a lot in unpaid taxes to the IRS. At the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, he dished (via WNYC), "They excused $2 million off my bill. ... I like the IRS now." Despite it all, the boxer has no regrets about spending. He explained, "​​I didn't spare any quarters, any nickels, or dimes either. I'm not regretful for that in no means whatsoever."

Mike Tyson is a cheater

Mike Tyson has never denied that he's not been faithful to his wives. The boxer has been married three times: to Robin Givens, Monica Turner, and to his current wife, Lakiha "Kiki" Spicer, whom he wed in 2009. While Tyson's romance with Givens was extremely rocky, it seems his union with Turner was specifically plagued with cheating. Turner cited in her divorce complaint (per The Washington Post), that Tyson "committed adultery during the marriage, and such adultery has neither been forgiven nor condoned."

Tyson even admitted in his memoir "Undisputed Truth" (via The Daily Mail), "She had had enough of my fooling around because I sure did a lot of it." He added, "Calling to tell her I had AIDS probably didn't help either." (He later clarified he does not). It appears Tyson decided to try harder with Spicer, though. In 2020, he told T.I. on his podcast, "ExpediTIously," that despite being married for over a decade, he hadn't cheated on Spicer in two years. He explained how it's something he's struggled with, saying, "I'm not faithful enough. I'm just not that kind of guy. I don't care about nobody or nothing more than my d**k. How am I gonna be faithful to somebody?"

However, the boxer may finally be turning over a new leaf. He told T.I., "I look at women differently." While he admitted that he viewed women "as pleasure" when he was younger, he added, "At this stage of my life, they're my teachers."

The boxing champ kept tigers as pets

Mike Tyson has always been a self-proclaimed animal lover, but at one point, he owned actual tigers. Many would argue that keeping large exotic animals as pets in captivity is wrong. The boxer explained how he got his tigers, telling Fat Joe on Instagram Live (via The Independent) that he got the idea in jail after talking to a friend who was interested in trading cars for horses. He recalled him saying, "They have some nice tigers ... If you got one of those, that would be cool in your Ferrari." Tyson continued, "I said, 'Why don't you order me a couple.'"

These days, Tyson regrets purchasing his two cubs, admitting it was "foolish." He revealed, "I'm just happy I educated myself. I was doing the wrong s***. I shouldn't have had them in my house, believing they were domesticated. I was wrong." He also acknowledged how unsafe it was, saying, "There's no way you can domesticate these cats 100 percent. ... They'll kill you by accident." During an interview with GQ Sports, he said that he "had to get rid of" one of his tigers when she got old and unhealthy. He also claimed that she "ripped somebody's arm off."

On "Hotboxin' with Mike Tyson," the boxer admitted that he had a big ego when he got his tigers, but he added that his "insecurities" also made owning the animals alluring to him. "I wanted something that ferocious to love me," he said.