Mike Tyson is a father to seven children, yet, his own father largely remains a mystery for the famous boxer.
“I don’t know much about my father’s family. In fact, I didn’t really know my father much at all,” Sports Bible quoted Tyson in his autobiography, Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth. He continues, “Or the man I was told was my father. On my birth certificate it said my father was Percel Tyson. The only problem was that my brother, my sister, and I never met this guy.” The outlet reported the elder Tyson’s name is sometimes listed as Purcell.
According to Essentially Sports, Percel “was Jamaican and was married to Tyson’s mother Lorna Mae Smith, following their meet up in New York.” While Sports Bible asserts Tyson called Percel a cab driver during a one-man show, Essentially Sports reported no additional information is known on the man.
Instead, “Iron Mike” grew up believing Jimmy “Curlee” Kirkpatrick Jr. was his father, reported Essentially Sports.
Tyson Believed Jimmy ‘Curlee’ Kirkpatrick, Jr. Was His Father
As Sports Bible quotes Tyson’s biography, “We were all told that our biological father was Jimmy ‘Curlee’ Kirkpatrick Jr, but he was barely in the picture. As time went on I heard rumours that Curlee was a pimp and that he used to extort ladies. Then, all of a sudden, he started calling himself a deacon in the church.”
Sports Bible again references his book, with Tyson claiming Kirkpatrick would pick him and his siblings up from his mother’s, though “he and my mother never spoke to each other.”
He continued, “The kids would pile into his Cadillac and we thought we were going on an excursion to Coney Island or Brighton Beach, but he’d just drive around for a few minutes, pull back up to our apartment building, give us some money, give my sister a kiss, and shake me and my brother’s hands and that was it. Maybe I’d see him in another year.”
According to Sports Bible, Kirkpatrick passed away in 1992 while Tyson was in jail after being convicted of raping Desiree Washington.
Tyson’s Trainer Cus D’Amato Became His Guardian When His Mother Died
Instead, Tyson’s main parental figure was his mother: Lorna Smith. However, Sports Bible reported she passed away when Tyson was 16-years-old.
“It became very much a home for Mike Tyson, which he had never really had,” Ross Greenburg, former president of HBO Sports, said in the special. As People described, Tyson had a sense of structure in this new home that included chores.
“If Cus was happy, it made me happy,” People quoted Tyson from a 2020 episode of his podcast, Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson. “If me knocking out people made him happy, f***, I wanna do it. I wanna knock out five people a day. Really, because that made him happy. That was my job, I just wanted him to be happy.”
In the ABC special, D’Amato’s partner Camille Ewald can be seen saying in old footage, “I think he grew up without any love or affection, he just grew up int he street looking for something. He wanted somebody to pay attention to him.”
Mike Tyson: The Knockout is a two-part special airing on ABC May 25 and June 1 at 8 p.m.