Few boxers have ever been as loved or loathed as ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, the ghetto kid who made good thanks to the speed of his fists and his singleminded determination to be the best. Never a stranger to controversy over the years, Tyson’s roller coaster of a career saw him gloriously rise to the very top of his sport by becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history, while fighting his personal demons of addiction and the depression that followed him from the shadows over the course of his life.
Tyson’s recent biography has proved to be a bestseller, popular not only with boxing afficiendos but also people who have never paid much interest in the sport given the honesty with which he tells his incredible – and unlikely – story. Perhaps most intriguing is how Mike describes how he came into the sport thanks only to a PT instructor noticing his talents while he was incarcerated in jail as a kid. Despite being on the short side compared to other pro boxers of the time, Tyson had the advantage of being not just a boxer, but in his own words a ‘fighter’.
The brutal aggression that he showed in the ring soon made him a world star, and unlike the bravado that many boxers put on pre fight – with Tyson it was most assuredly not a show. Instead of pumping his arms and flailing his fists to unnerve his opponent, Mike would enter the ring pumped up yet silent, staring straight ahead as if he were lost in thoughts of imminent violence.
Unlike the other boxers with their flashy loud shorts, Tyson chose only to wear a pair of plain black adidas boxing shorts. This was, as he explained in his autobiography, because it was by far the scariest and most intimidating option – that he wanted to be feared through the simplicity of his dress. Over the course of his career, and despite many other lucrative commercial offers, Tyson stuck with this simple – yet effective – style and by retirement had managed to turn a simple pair of black adidas shorts into an iconic, vintage item.
His recent return to the public eye has seen Tyson offered a number of commercial opportunities to claw back some of hundreds of millions that he has spent, squandered or being cheated from over his life. One of the more popular recent commercials has been Tyson and his old foe Evander Holyfield sharing the screen as Tyson humbly offers to return the piece of Evander’s ear that he sensationally tore off in a pique of rage in the ring during one of their classic tussles.
It’s testament to Tyson and his legend that even after a decade in quiet retirement he can still get people hearts racing, and he will forever be associated with the classic, vintage adidas shorts that struck dread into so many opponents.