Hailed by many as the greatest boxer of all time, at least of his era, Mike Tyson has done it all in and out of the ring. He reached the pinnacle of the sport when he became the youngest ever undisputed heavyweight champion at the tender age of 20, making me feel slightly insignificant for spending my youth playing video games and getting blackout drunk. Not only did he secure the most prestigious title of all but Mike Tyson simultaneously held the WBA, WBC and IBF titles, becoming the only heavyweight to successively unify them. In other words, he was a beast.
But it wasn't all plain sailing for the champ, with Tyson facing controversy and criticism throughout his life both inside and outside the ring. His reputation was left in tatters after a guilty verdict for rape sent him to prison in 1992. Released three years later Mike Tyson was never the same, with his boxing career tarnished after his infamous 1997 bout with Evander Holyfield, which saw Tyson bite off part of Holyfield's ear.
But like any survivor, Mike Tyson has endured and learnt from his mistakes over the years. Now in his 50's he's got his life together and is trying to be a husband and father for his family. With that in mind, here are four lessons from a turbulent life we can learn from Mike Tyson to keep you focused on the prize.
Acknowledge your flaws
We all like to think we're just short of perfect but the truth is most of us have flaws that can undermine us if not recognised. While these can be a detriment to your social and working life, if you can accept them, own them and work on improving yourself, the sky's the limit in terms of what you can accomplish. Being happy with who you are, flaws and all is the first step to finding success and happiness in life around others. This is something Mike Tyson discussed when speaking with The Express last year while promoting his latest book, Iron Ambition.
You always have to acknowledge your flaws because in real life, even though my flaws are embarrassing, the only reason I’ve accomplished anything good in life is because of my flaws – in spite of my flaws – not because I didn’t have any. I’m pretty proud of my flaws. My flaws made me ascend to very high places.
Don't blow your money
At the height of his career, Mike Tyson's wealth was estimated at around US$300 million. By 2003, however, Iron Mike was bankrupt. Squandering his money on an extravagant lifestyle, Tyson was particularly fond of splashing the cash on ladies of the night. It didn't take long for his life of excess to catch up with Mike Tyson soon finding himself penniless.
Although far from rich, Tyson has slowly turned his life around and now finds himself with a net worth of around US$3 million, which he plans on keeping. While you might not be making millions it's a good reminder to watch your finances. Your bank balance might look healthy at the moment but a few unwanted fines or silly purchases could leave you in the hole. Be equally careful with where you spend your money as where you invest it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but so is patience. It never hurts to sleep on any decision when it comes to money. $1,500 Gucci Hawaiian shirt? Probably a no from us.
Leave the past in the past
There's no point dwelling on things that have happened, something especially relevant when discussing Mike Tyson's contentious past. "The Baddest Man On The Planet" believes focusing on the present and the future is the only way we can move forward with our lives. Speaking with sports journalist Brandon Steiner, Tyson revealed an old friend told him the lowest form of conversation is “was.” Forget what's been and focus on what you can manage and you'll be able to take control of your life and make the most of your opportunities. Considering how well Mike Tyson is doing these days you can't disagree with this piece of advice.
Confidence is key
If there's one thing Mike Tyson's never been short of it is confidence. He's always believed he's the best boxer in the world and he backed up his trash talking with vicious blows in the ring. Just like in the real world, if you believe you're the best it will extend to every facet of your life. Anything you thought hard to achieve will become easy and you'll attract people with the confidence oozing from you. Sure, this doesn't mean you're automatically going to score a date with the gorgeous blonde from accounting or wind up winning the lotto, but you will make an impact on those you interact with and get noticed for the right reasons.
Just remember not to get overconfident as Mike Tyson did before his big title fight with Lennox Lewis in 2002. Claiming he would "eat his children," Tyson was promptly knocked out by the younger Lewis in the eighth round, effectively ending his career. It's a thin line between confidence and arrogance so make sure you stand on the right side.