Masculinity of Mike Tyson

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“Iron Mike” Events, icons, technology, and environment affect the male population in America. Most males have a person they look up to for inspirations and motivations. Males want to be tough and strong, and they want to be feared by other males.

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Males enjoy being better than everyone else and impressing women. When a successful male icon experiences a downfall, most men are shocked and fear for their own downfall. Mike Tyson is an example of a successful male whose downfall became a public spectacle for all to witness. Tyson, once a popular male icon, soon affected the male population while building his own criminal record. The fight of Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield demonstrates how far a man will go to obtain the title of the “Iron Man. ” Mike Tyson’s negative and criminal behavior adversely affects males by glorifying violence and embodying a mentality that implies any means is permissible in pursuit of victory. Mike Tyson had a rough and difficult childhood.

Tyson’s humble beginnings encouraged him to get to the top and create a name for himself. His parents divorced after he was born, and his mom never remarried.

This created an unstable environment for a child to grow up. Due to his mom’s meager income, she was forced to raise her son in Brownsville, NY, a city ranked as one of the most violent ghettos in the country (Mollett 1). As a result, Mike Tyson had to learn to deal with violence. At a young age, Mike Tyson became a member of one of the local gangs known as the “Jolly Stompers” (Mollett). Once a member of the gang, Tyson’s behavior digressed causing him to get in trouble with the law and be sent to detention centers various times. After several short stints in correctional facilities, he was finally sent to a detention center in upstate New York. At this point, his mother had come to grips that she could no longer control her son. While in the upstate detention center, Tyson tried breaking loose and it took several men to take him down, and he had to be put away in handcuffs. Such misbehavior was a repeating pattern, and it resulted in him being “violent, depressed, and mute,” which explains his carelessness towards his wrongful behavior in society (Mollette 2). Because violence was, something he faced every day, Mike Tyson never questioned whether it was right or wrong.

Mike Tyson’s criminal behavior started to change once he met Bobby Stewart, a former boxer. Tyson asked his councilor at the detention center if he could have the opportunity to meet with Bobby Stewart. Tyson asked Bobby if he could be a boxer, and he was shocked at his harsh reaction. After the encounter, Tyson’s attitude and behavior changed completely (Mollett 2). He had a positive attitude, and the criminal behavior stopped immediately. Stewart was notified about Tyson’s behavior, and made a deal to coach him in boxing if Mike tried going back to school. This deal with Steward motivated Tyson causing him to become dedicated to the sport. Bobby Stewart noticed great improvement, and knew Tyson could make great accomplishments.

Stewart took Tyson to a “legendary” trainer to demonstrate Tyson’s abilities in boxing (Mollett 2). The trainer was amazed by Tyson’s skills and determination that he decided to coach Tyson and lead him to the boxing ring. From then on, Tyson’s name became well known in the world of boxing. Tyson became a heavyweight champion, and was feared in the boxing ring. He became a masculine icon, with his muscular body and being part of the manly sport of boxing. After much success in the ring, Tyson coined the nickname “Iron Mike,” which described his invincibility and strength. With his nickname, Tyson created a manly and powerful name for himself and made sure others knew who he was as a fighter.

The nicknames he received described him as the ultimate man. The male population was intrigued by his success and power. This elevated Tyson’s social status above just a boxer and made him tantamount to a masculine icon. While at the peak of his career, Mike Tyson made a mistake, which not only became the start of his downfall but also affected those who looked up to him. Like most men, Mike Tyson valued competition; he always wanted to be a winner. Being the best was always his goal, and he would literally do anything to obtain a title.

Throughout his life, Tyson fought at his best and was referred to as the “Baddest Man on the Planet. ” Because of names like this, Tyson always wanted to be number one, and live up to the manly nicknames society placed upon him. In 1997, Mike Tyson was facing Evander Holyfield in the boxing ring. Tyson experienced an unbalanced emotional range of passion and anger, which caused him to cross the line of what is accepted in society. Tyson was caught up in his emotions and bit Holyfield’s ear.

This moment in sports will always be remembered. After this incident, nicknames such as “Iron Mike” were soon replaced with nicknames that compared him to an animal. His actions were inhuman-like and everything that Mike Tyson accomplished throughout his lifetime suddenly became meaningless. He always boxed by the rules and during that moment he crossed the line. This event showed how important fighting and competition were for Tyson.

His fans and audience were disappointed in his actions, and he was no longer the ultimate “Iron Mike. Even though Mike Tyson apologized for the incident, his reputation was no longer the same. Later in an interview, he described the night as “the worst night of [his] professional career” and promised that he “will never do [it] again” (Financial Post 1). The apology was necessary, but it was not enough. Tyson stated that “[he] will learn from [his] mistake,” but as his success diminishes, everything worsens (1). Mike Tyson claims that he acted as he did in the ring because he feared he would lose the fight to Holyfield since he had a cut above his eye. His claim proves that as a male, he was scared of losing his title of championship and beating his opponent was more important than his values. He accepted any punishment and said he “expect[s] to pay the price as a man,” showing his desire to remain manly and strong (1). Even after apologizing and admitting he is wrong, Tyson wants to prove to his fans and everyone else that he would have won the fight. Tyson remains full of pride after his mistake and states that he was “saddened that the fight did not go further so that the boxing fans of the world might see for themselves who would come out on top” (2). Mike Tyson’s actions impacted masculinity in America, showing that even while being successful one can experience a downfall.

Biting Holyfield’s ear was the beginning of Tyson’s downfall. The incident with Holyfield was an addition to Tyson’s criminal record. After this event, there was more attention towards Tyson’s increasing criminal record. Before the fight versus Holyfield, Mike Tyson had been convicted of raping a pageant queen.

His behavior was not strange to some people because he never had stable relationships with women (Grass 1). Tyson had a “turbulent marriage, several accusations of sexual harassment, and three lawsuits” (1). His actions were looked down upon because he affected the males involved in boxing. He was creating a bad image of all boxers, and the public assumed everyone was a criminal like Mike Tyson. Once, a representative for Main Events promotions said, “It’s not fair to look down on other boxers for what one man has done” (1). Mike Tyson created an image of violence and criminal behavior as a masculine icon. All of his fans were disappointed in his actions. A more recent attack of Mike Tyson took place in 2001. Tyson allegedly attacked a reporter with a fork and stabbed him on the head. His actions were due to the reporter mentioning his future competition, Lennox Lewis (The Mirror 1). Tyson’s actions show his anger towards his opponent and his passion for competing; he does not even want to hear his opponent’s name. A month before the fight of Tyson versus Holyfield, Mike Tyson’s attitude is masculine and tough, wanting to be a “badass. ” In an interview with Bill Ritter for ABC News, Mike Tyson gives off a bad vibe during his interview, a few months before the Holyfield fight. When asked the first question of the interview, Mike Tyson responds by saying, “I don’t want to be here with you” (ABC News). Tyson has an angry attitude towards reporters and the public in general. He is against talking about money and gets very defensive when asked about receiving money for boxing. Mike Tyson replies to the remark by saying, “Hey don’t talk about it, don’t talk about it” (ABC News). Tyson tries to be humble by not talking about money yet; he always wants to be the number one boxer. When he is asked for predictions about his upcoming fight, Tyson says, “Mike Tyson wins by a knockout” (ABC News). His hardboiled character is seen throughout his answers in the interview, trying to be rough and making it hard for the public to see a different side of him.

Another example of Tyson’s feeling of confidence is when Bill Ritter says “if you should win this fight…” and Tyson responds, “When I win this fight, I believe that’s going to be the situation” (ABC News). Tyson is conceited and has a high level of self-esteem by saying he is going to win by a knockout, and not doubting himself. In the interview, the reporter describes Tyson as a “reluctant celebrity” which fully describes his manner in answering questions. Mike Tyson as an individual shows all his characteristics in the interview with ABC News. He has confidence with high levels of self-esteem, does not want to be messed with, and thinks he is better than every other boxer.

Males are impacted by the way Tyson treats other people and the way he carries out his composure and character. When Mike Tyson was at his peak, he had a masculine attitude towards the reporter, but in a recent interview in 2006, Mike Tyson shows his softer side. The interview starts by describing Tyson’s transition from “the world’s most popular athlete” to being an entertainer at a Hotel in Las Vegas (ABC Nightline1). Mike Tyson begins by saying that boxing “doesn’t mean that much to [him] anymore. ” The interview ironically asks Tyson about suffering with depression and having low self esteem; while in the previous interview, Mike was full of confidence. After his downfall and not being so well-known, Tyson admits that his life “[has] been truly a lie” (2). There is a repetition in comments by Mike Tyson showing low self-esteem such as “I’m not good anymore” (2). Tyson shifts from being inspiring to being disappointing. All of Tyson’s life has been a struggle between “the man he has been and the man he wants to be” (3). His life is an example to people showing that even at the times when one is most successful, one can struggle with his or her own life.

Tyson is described with animal-like characteristics and violent words like he “is trying to exorcise his demons” and trying to “tame the raging Tyson” (3). Tyson’s soft side is seen at the middle of the interview when he says, “[he’s] so happy not fighting anymore. He blames boxing for his violent attitude and says, “fighting turned [him] that way. ” He also blames the public, he says the people want to see him angry, “cursing, grab[bing] his crotch, and being that tough guy” (3). He claims he no longer wants to be that guy, “but everybody pulls that guy back out of [him]. ” As the time had gone by, Mike Tyson started to realize that his boxing career was meant to be temporary, he only enjoyed it for a certain time. It seems like he is easily influenced by those that surround him, if people want to see him be a tough guy, he will be that guy. Tyson is willing to change; he just needs to be surrounded by the right people. Some people may argue that Mike Tyson never made any accomplishments. Those people choose to focus on his criminal record, and claim he was a “fraud” (Posnanski 1). Articles try to bring him down by saying “he was never a great fighter,” and he “knock[ed] out nobodies, stiffs, old guys” (1). The negativities written about Mike Tyson caused him to become the person that he was. Tyson said it himself that the people create who he was in the boxing ring. The public asks for it by expecting him to be angry and violent to the remarks people make. Mike Tyson was a great boxer and was well- known inside and outside the ring. He affected masculinity by inspiring others to become a fighter as he was. He had a competitive nature, and never wanted to give up. The people loved who he was as a fighter, but had a different reaction after his fight versus Holyfield. It is ironic that no one focused on this rape trail much until after the fight with Holyfield.

This event caused Tyson’s criminal record to come out to the public, and more attention was paid to his actions. It can be said that many black males were angry at his actions because people assumed all black people were violent. As a representative or role model to the male population, Mike Tyson gave males a bad reputation. His actions, such as biting Holyfield’s ear, were not something a human would do. Tyson was often referred to as a bull or gorilla or any other angry animal. His actions affected the male population because those that looked up to him, no longer found him as a role model. Tyson went from one of the most popular athletes to a nobody, a person that was angry and a criminal. People could never look at him the same way as they did before, and some even feared him.

Mike Tyson says he started fighting because he needed the money and that is the only thing he was good at, not having an education; he said, “I gotta make the doughnuts and stuff” (ABC Nightline 4). Mike Tyson’s upbringing in the ghetto and inexistent relationship with his parents was very much the reason he got involved in boxing. He tried to make a change for himself and his family by fighting and making money; but getting into the boxing ring was one of Tyson’s mistakes. Masculinity in America remembers Tyson’s career and downfall, which showed how passionate he was about competing, and how his career affected his fans. Works Cited “Boxing: Mad Mike Forks Out for Lunch. ” The Mirror 21 June 2001: 1. Lexis Nexis. Georgia Tech, Atlanta. 14 Apr. 2008. Keyword: Mike Tyson attacks reporter. Grass, James. “Rape Conviction Would End Career. ” USA Today 27 Jan. 1992: 1. Lexis Nexis. Georgia Tech, Atlanta. 12 Apr. 2008. Keyword: Mike Tyson, rape.

Mollett, Clinton. “Mike Tyson’s Childhood. ” East Side Boxing. 16 Mar. 2004. 12 Apr. 2008 <https://www. astsideboxing. com/news. php? p=832&more=1>. Posnanski, Joe. “Mike Tyson Was Never a Great Champion. ” The Kansas City Star 31 Jan. 2006: 1-2. Lexis Nexis. Georgia Tech, Atlanta. 9 Apr. 2008. Keyword: Mike Tyson. “Tyson Apologizes for Fiasco. ” The Financial Post 1 July 1997: 1-2. Lexis Nexis.

Georgia Tech, Atlanta. 10 Apr. 2008. Keyword: Mike Tyson. Tyson, Mike. Interview with Bill Ritter. ABC News. ABC. WABC. 26 June 1997. Tyson, Mike. Interview with Jeremy Schaap. ABC Nightline. ABC. WABC, New York. 13 Sept. 2006. ost intractable of the “incorrigible” boys

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Masculinity Of Mike Tyson. (2017, Sep 22). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from

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