My Past Experiences with Heavyweight Champ “Iron” Mike Tyson!
By Ken Hissner: There have been many articles written on “Iron” Mike Tyson in the past and even currently. This writer would like to tell of my own experiences with Tyson.
This writer first met Tyson at the age of fifteen in June of 1982 at the home of Camile Ewald and Tyson’s trainer Cus D’Amato in the Catskills. I’d met who would be Tyson’s first manager Jim Jacobs the year before in New York at his office.
I’d taken the name of future 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Tyrell Biggs to him about managing him at the request of Biggs father. Jacobs told me of this young fifteen years old amateur he and D’Amato were involved with named Mike Tyson. Little did we know in October of 1987, Biggs and Tyson would meet with the latter, scoring a seventh round stoppage.
At the Catskill home sitting at the dinner table were D’Amato, Ewald, Tyson, Kevin Rooney, and Teddy Atlas, among others. Tyson would have me watch “The Greatest Films of the Century” owned by Jacobs in his bedroom.
One was of world heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey. Tyson loved the way he fought and with no socks or robe entering the ring, which much later would be a trademark of Tyson’s.
D’Amato would have me at a later time match Rooney in a rematch in Scranton, Pennsylvania, with Terry Crawley, whom Rooney had lost to previously.
He wanted to see how improved Rooney was from their November 1982 bout. Rooney would gain a split decision draw with Crawley in April of 1984 in a Bob Connelly promotion in Scranton I was helping out with.
D’Amato would ask me to get someone to spar with Tyson if I could. I was able to send future world title challenger Philadelphia’s Jimmy Young to camp with this then sixteen-year-old Tyson for $500 per week. I’d seen Young get the best of ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier in the gym and figured it would be good sparring for Tyson. I would soon get a call from Young asking, “what the hell are you doing to me? This kid is beating the s**t out of me!” Young was gone the next day.
Tyson’s amateur career suffered back-to-back losses in the Olympic Trials to Henry Tillman in the summer of 1984. Tillman went on to win a Gold Medal in the L.A. Olympics. In June of 1990, they would meet again, with Tyson scoring a first round knockout. It was his first fight after losing his title to James “Buster” Douglas.
In January of 1986, this writer had a call from Tyson, then 15-0 pertaining to his bout with David Jaco, 19-5. I was and still am a record keeper. I recognized his voice right away. He asked, “how did you know it was me?” I told him, “lucky guess!” I went on to say to him he’s a big (6:06) white guy, don’t worry about it.” Tyson took him out in the first round.
In 1988 when Tyson was in Atlantic City for his bout with then world champion Michael Spinks Rooney brought me into the dressing room of Tyson’s. Upon seeing me, he gave me a big hug lifting me off the ground. I thought, “I’m glad he likes me!”
The last time I met with Tyson was at a casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, when he was working with the promotional group for the event, and I handed him a picture of me with Rooney and D’Amato.
Later at the fights, Tyson was standing with former heavyweight champion Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes, whom I had a run-in with, asking him if he would put his brother Mark in an exhibition of a boxing event at Easton High School I was promoting.
He told me, “I’m not putting my brother on some rinky-dink show!” Later that afternoon, in watching him spar, he stopped and came to the ropes pointing at me and said, “I ought to beat the s**t out of you for going to his brother after talking to me.” I had the pleasure years later of doing an article “Tyson and Holmes ll” after seeing them and wrote, “the last time they fought Holmes’s feet were up in the air!”
As you can see, I was always a fan of Tyson’s after meeting him. Here was the youngest boxer to win the heavyweight title at 20 years, four months, and 23 days, breaking the record of another fighter D’Amato had trained in Floyd Patterson.
Tyson had good people early in his life with Ewald, D’Amato, Jacobs, Atlas, and Rooney. Then, of course, along came promoter Don King and gone eventually was Rooney and the rest is history.
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