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Before Being Adopted by His Mentor, Boxing Legend Mike Tyson Thought He’d Be a “Criminal” His Entire Life

Published 05/23/2023, 5:34 PM EDT

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Growing up in a poverty-stricken, violent neighborhood of Brooklyn, Mike Tyson faced several challenges as a young and impressionable kid. Whether it was drugs, crime, or violence, every kind of vice plagued the streets constantly testing the spirit of its residents. From being involved in street fights to committing a wide range of petty crimes, The ‘Kid Dynamite’ soon found himself in a juvenile detention center.

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Tyson had a knack for violence, and he was hot-headed as a teenager. If not for Cus D’Amato to channel his anger in the right direction, he would have ended up in a very bad place by his own admission. In a recent episode of Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson, he talked about his life prior to getting adopted by Cus.

Mike Tyson discusses the rough neighborhood of Brooklyn he spent his childhood in


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Tony Yayo, an American rapper who was previously a part of G-unit, appeared as a guest on Tyson’s podcast. Yayo started the conversation about how Brooklyn used to be during the 80s and the 90s. He shared that Brooklyn was known for incidents of robbing and gang members “taking over the block”. It was then the Brooklyn native said that such an environment was all he had known.

He  said, “That’s all I know, I thought I was gonna be a criminal my whole life”.


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When Tyson was in the detention center, he caught the attention of Bobby Stewart who was a counselor and a former boxer. He introduced Tyson to boxing and provided an outlet for his aggressive energy.

However, Cus is the true reason, Tyson became Iron Mike. After all, Cus adopted him when he was 14 and instilled in him the work ethic and the discipline that made him the successful boxer that he was.

In the end, Tyson carved a legacy for himself and even earned the moniker ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’. Tyson recently got emotional when talking about the influence Cus had on him.

Tyson shares a thrilling event from his childhood

Mike Tyson also recounted a shocking anecdote from his childhood during the episode. Tyson along with other 11- years old kids, once snatched a jewelry box from a guy. He said, “He didn’t know he didn’t even expect it. He’s coming out just and boom we snatched the Box”. 


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He then went on to say that a heart-pounding chase started. Tyson recalled that he also heard a gun go off. Soon the young boys ended up hiding in an abandoned building.

It didn’t stop there as soon cops started coming, however, Tyson and his fellow kids refused to come out. Yayo added, “The cops ain’t want to go on that abandoned building, they wasn’t doing that.”


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Watch this story: This man terrified Mike Tyson

Tyson’s story bears witness to the harsh realities of life bestowed upon someone by destiny. It leaves one wondering what would have happened if Tyson was not introduced to boxing. What do you think about Tyson’s story? Do share your thoughts in the comments.

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Written by:

Chirag Radhyan


One take at a time

Chirag Radhyan is a Boxing Writer at EssentiallySports. He has authored over 300 articles and loves to talk about the animosity between athletes, leading up to a fight. His coverage of the off-court drama between Jake Paul and Tommy Fury received widespread appreciation from readers.
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Edited by:

Arijit Saha