Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson is widely recognized for his lisp. Some fans weren’t sure if Tyson’s speech impediment is something that resulted from his career in the ring or it developed in childhood.
Tyson opened up about his lisp in his autobiography that appeared in New York magazine in 2013.
The “Iron Mike” people know today was much different as a child. “I was a pudgy kid, very shy, almost effeminate-shy, and I spoke with a lisp,” Tyson said about growing up in Brooklyn in the 1960s, per The Guardian. He was relentlessly bullied for his appearance.
He still remembers the day someone tried to steal his lunch when he was 7 years old and he ran home. “I still feel like a coward to this day because of that bullying,” Tyson penned. “That’s a wild feeling, being that helpless You never forget that feeling. That was the last day I went to school. I was seven years old and I just ever went back to class.”
Tyson added in a 2014 interview with The Guardian, “The kids called me ‘Little Fairy Boy.'”
Tyson made history as the youngest heavyweight boxing champion when he earned the title at 20 years old. He won his first 19 professional fights through knockouts, and 12 of them occurred in the first round.
Out of the 58 fights Tyson had in his professional career, he won 50 of them, SportsCasting wrote. Forty-four of those wins were knockouts. He only lost six times and had two no contests.
There was a gap in Tyson’s boxing career when he spent three years in prison for being convicted of rape in February of 1992. He returned to boxing when he was released in 1995, but he wasn’t the same fighter. Tyson reentered the ring with a record of 41-1 but added five more losses to his tally, included two consecutive losses to Evander Holyfield.
Tyson Pokes Fun at Himself
Being ridiculed for the way he talked since he was a child and throughout his professional career has led Tyson to be able to laugh at himself. But Tyson is in on the joke as much as anyone else, as noted by SportsCasting.
The fighter mocked his own speech impediment when he donned a shirt that said, “Thuns out, guns out,” and included a cartoon photo of himself.
It wasn’t the first time. When legendary singer Prince died, Tyson tweeted an image that Photoshopped his face onto Prince’s body and read, “Printhe.”
“Like the world, I mourn but celebrate your spirit with your music,” Tyson tweeted.
Tyson’s Life Is Being Explored in a Two-Part Documentary
“Iron Mike’s” speech and more details about Tyson’s life are slated to be explored in “Mike Tyson: The Knockout,” a four-hour documentary series.
“Through the lens of his life’s extreme highs and lows, the two-part primetime event will examine some of the most pressing questions about resilience and reinvention,” ABC wrote in a press statement.
“In addition to being an inspiring story of the perseverance and hard-won growth of one extraordinary person, Mike Tyson’s life and career are also relevant to the important collective self-reflection finally occurring in America,” executive producer Geoffrey Fletcher added.
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