He’s one of the most popular, most colorful, and most controversial sports figures in history.
Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.
Why is Mike Tyson so iconic?
He cleaned an otherwise dull division during the 1980s and before other legends such as Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, George Foreman, and Riddick Bowe became top contenders. (Evander was making waves as a heavyweight but, in box office terms, Tyson vs Holyfield hadn’t matured yet).
In addition, Mike was everything the mainstream public wants to see in a fighter. There was a special electricity generated when he walked in the ring.
He was exciting, fearless, extremely skilled, very quick, and had incredible punching power in both hands. Moreover, he had a killer instinct in the ring second to none.
During his career, Mike earned several nicknames but one surpasses them all.
Top Nickname: Iron Mike
Most people over 30 on any street corner would know who you were referring to if you told them you’d met ‘Iron Mike.’
‘The Rock’ is Dwayne Johnson… ‘The Boss’ is Bruce Springsteen… ‘Magic’ is Ervin Johnson, ‘The Great One’ is Wayne Gretzky, the ‘King of Pop’ is Michael Jackson… and ‘Iron Mike’ is Mike Tyson.
Muscular, relentless, durable, and incredibly strong, it’s not surprising ‘Iron Mike’ was the nickname that stuck with Tyson throughout his career.
Nickname No. 2: Kid Dynamite
At 19, Tyson donned the cover of Sports Illustrated with the title ‘Kid Dynamite.’ Some used it to label Tyson but it was rare. Today, some will use that moniker when talking about a young, pre-1990 version of Tyson.
Mike, who became the youngest heavyweight champion ever at 20, caught fire in the mainstream at 19. He was exceptionally good at a young age and punched like he had dynamite in his fists, hence ‘Kid Dynamite.’
Nickname No. 3: Mighty Mike
After serving three years in prison, Mike, during his fights, was briefly introduced as ‘Mighty Mike Tyson.’ Perhaps the 29-year-old Tyson and his handlers were attempting to start anew and re-brand Mike, ditching linkages to his previous roughneck persona to enhance his public image?
It didn’t work.
Despite being introduced as ‘Mighty Mike Tyson’ in his comeback fight with Peter McNeeley, which was ultimately Part 2 of Tyson’s career, it never caught traction and almost no one called him that. To the fans and general public, he was still ‘Iron Mike.’
Following the McNeeley fight in August 1995, he was introduced as ‘Mighty Mike’ once or twice more before ‘Iron Mike’ was reinstated as his official introduction moniker.
Nickname No. 4: The Baddest Man on the Planet
The above was more a reference than a moniker. It was still a fitting nickname for the man who was truley that in his prime years, between the ages of 20 and 24. From 1986 to 1990, Mike appeared invincible and was feared and respected for his ferocious and intimidating boxing style.
Sky Sports described him as “perhaps the most ferocious fighter to step into a professional ring”.
Today, top fighters such as Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury will often refer to themselves as ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ but Mike Tyson will always be the original.
Tyson is considered one of the best heavyweights of all time and has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
No one can deny that he’s still an all-time great and was the most seductive fighter of his era – and perhaps any era.