Mike Tyson’s Autobiography

By Robert Ecksel on October 23, 2013
Mike Tyson’s Autobiography
“I must have spit the piece of his earlobe on the canvas because I was pointing to it.”

Once again perspective—or the lack thereof—rears its ugly head, this time in the form of a decapitated fish…

“Undisputed Truth: My Autobiography” by Mike Tyson will hit bookstores in November. If the book “Undisputed Truth” is indisputably more truthful than the one-man stage show of the same name, only time will tell. But an excerpt of the book length version of the World According to Mike Tyson is available, and an excerpt of that excerpt is below.

To start things off with a bang instead of a whimper, Tyson, in his inimitable voice, delves into the infamous Bite of the Century.

“Holyfield and I were originally supposed to fight for the second time on May 3, 1997, but I got head-butted in training and the fight was postponed to June twenty-eighth. I was the challenger, so I had to enter the ring first. On my walk in we played a song by Tupac. People think that I would use gangster rap to solidify my image, but that wasn’t the case. I was just listening to good music going in.”

It sounds like Mike is rewriting history. Denying that he wouldn’t “use gangster rap to solidify” his “image” doesn’t fly. He wore his street cred like a badge of honor. There was lots of “good music” out there. Gangster rap, however acceptable now, was equally unacceptable then. I’m not convinced that the “baddest man on the planet” wasn’t making a statement, despite his avowals to the contrary.

“The fight started and I was feeling pretty good. I was confident, my body felt good, my movement was fluid. I was pretty elusive, moving around, not throwing anything big, just boxing. Then Holyfield butted me again. It was obvious to anyone watching that Holyfield’s tactic was to wait for me to throw a punch and then burrow in with his head. So the head butts were no accidents, they were a strategy.”

In the recent “Being: Mike Tyson” on FOX Sports, Mike admitted during a sit-down with Evander that he started it by throwing his elbow. That didn’t make it into the book. The blame for what went down is Holyfield’s alone, if the book, as opposed to the FOX series, is to be believed.

“It got worse in the second round,” continues Tyson. “I started winging some punches at Holyfield and he dove in again and, boom! A big gash opened up over my eye. I immediately turned to Mills Lane.”

Tyson told the referee, “He butted me!” but “Lane didn’t even say anything, but he ruled it an accident.

“Now Holyfield started looking at the cut on top of my eye. He was charging at me with his head. He was taller than me, so what was his head doing underneath my head? I was getting frustrated.

“When the third round began, I was furious. I was so anxious to start fighting that I left the corner without my mouthpiece, but Richie called me back and put it in.

“We started the round and I hit Holyfield with a couple of hard punches. The crowd started going crazy. They could feel that the fight had really shifted. And that’s when he butted me again.

“I started feeling weary, like I was blacking out a little, but my anger and adrenaline jolted me back. I just wanted to kill him. Anybody watching could see that the head butts were so overt. I was furious, I was an undisciplined soldier and I lost my composure. So I bit him in the ear.

“From that point on, I don’t remember too much because I was so enraged.

“When I looked at the tape, I must have spit the piece of his earlobe on the canvas because I was pointing to it. It was, like, ‘Yeah, you take that.’ They actually found that piece after the fight and tried to sew it back on but it didn’t take.”

I’m no anatomist, but it wasn’t Holyfield’s earlobe, which is the soft, fleshy part at the bottom of the ear, Tyson bit off and spat to the canvas. It was the upper ear, which is hard and gristly and generally more resistant to the bad intentions of sharp teeth.

“Holyfield leapt up in the air in pain and then he turned to go to his corner, but I followed him and pushed him from behind. I wanted to kick him right in his groin, but I just pushed him. It was a street fight now.

“The doctor took a look at him and allowed him to continue and then Mills Lane took two points away from me, but in my mind, it didn’t matter. They were all against me anyway. So the fight resumed and he butted me again. And the ref, of course, did nothing. So we clinched and I bit him again on the other ear, but we kept on fighting till the end of the round.”

Tyson is telling a story, his version of a story, and reflection may be inappropriate in this context. But by raising the specter of a whitewash, there are as many questions as there are answers. For example, why had the second fight with Holyfield become a “street fight” only after Tyson “pushed” Holyfield from behind? Wouldn’t the elbow to the face have made it a street fight? How about the head butts? And let’s not forget the ear biting. Why is pushing someone from behind so egregious, especially under the circumstances?

“Then all hell broke loose. Holyfield’s corner complained to Mills Lane that I had bitten him again and Lane stopped the fight. I was too enraged to even hear the ring announcer say, ‘Referee Mills Lane has disqualified Mike Tyson for biting Evander Holyfield on both of his ears.’

”Holyfield was in his corner. He didn’t want any part of this shit, but I was still trying to get a hand on him. I wanted to destroy everything and everybody in his corner.

“People were pulling me and blocking me and he was standing in his corner, huddled up. Everyone was protecting him. He looked frightened. I was still trying to get at him. I had fifty people on me and I was still fighting the cops.

“Somehow they got me out of the ring. On the way back to the dressing room, someone tossed a full bottle of water at me and someone else gave me the finger. I climbed over the railing and tried to get at them, but my cornermen pulled me back. Then more people were throwing their sodas and beers on us. Anthony Pitts’s $2500 tailor-made suit was ruined.”

Tyson is nothing it if not consistent. It was Holyfield’s fault that Tyson bit him. It also sounds as if the fact that “someone tossed a full bottle of water” at Mike and gave him “the finger” were more serious than his having disfigured an opponent. (And the less said about the ruined “tailor-made suit” the better.)

“Mills Lane was interviewed in the ring and he claimed that all the butting Holyfield had done was accidental. Holyfield was interviewed and he praised Mills Lane.

“I was still going crazy in the dressing room. I had my gloves on and I was punching the walls. John Horne went out to talk to Jim Gray, the Showtime announcer.”

The unsavory John Horne told Jim Gray, “All I know is that Mike got a cut over his eye three inches long and Evander got a little nip on his ear that don’t mean nothing. He jumped around like a little bitch. The head-butting was going on so long. Come on, one head butt may be accidental, fifteen is not.”

Horne was as unwilling to accept responsibility then as Tyson is now.

“I barely remember being interviewed after the fight. My face was a grotesque mask, all cut up and swollen. I looked like a monster. Then I stormed off. We drove straight to my house where all the women were waiting.

“There were angry protesters outside my gates. People were blowing their horns and screaming, ‘Fixed fight!’ and ‘Move out of the neighborhood!’ and someone even threw a fish head onto my property.”

Once again perspective—or the lack thereof—rears its ugly head, this time in the form of a decapitated fish.

“They kept it up until some of my security guys shot some BBs in their direction. After a while, I smoked some weed and drank some liquor and went to sleep.

“Back at the MGM Grand, people were fighting one another in the casino, being sent to the hospital. Gaming tables were knocked over and people were grabbing the chips. They had to close it down. And then they looked at the surveillance videos and tracked down and arrested the people who stole the chips. It was mayhem.”

If there’s anything new in the above excerpt I didn’t see it. Tyson tells a tale we’ve heard a thousand times before with zero analysis or elaboration. What is not included—a bombshell or two—a little responsible awareness—is far more revealing than what is included. Tyson and his collaborator, who never challenged his subject, failed to take into account that there are discerning readers, and discerning readers ask questions as they read, as do discerning writers as they write.

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1997-06-28.Mike Tyson - Evander Holyfield - II. ear bitten off

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  1. peter 10:47am, 10/24/2013

    Tyson + over-exposure = Boring

  2. kid vegas 08:08pm, 10/23/2013

    I agree with Clarence George. This guy’s time has come and gone.

  3. Eric 01:15pm, 10/23/2013

    At his peak this guy was one of the best heavyweights of all time. His peak IMO was ‘86-‘89. That was a long time ago, and this Tyson character has become an outright joke. Great fighter for a very short period of time but really other than that, why do people stay fascinated with this guy? It is 2013 and Mike Tyson is now a middle aged man trying to make some extra cash, and it seems like people are willing to keep paying to hear what this guy has to say. I know all I want or care to know about Mike Tyson, he WAS a great fighter, but as a human being he’s just not that fascinating to me.

  4. Tony 12:57pm, 10/23/2013

    I saw Tyson’s stage show in Chicago this past February.  And it just so happened that Evander Holyfield was in the house that night.

    Tyson’s take on stage that night was much closer to what I always thought to be the truth: he said, “I got tired of Evander kicking my ass.”

    if someone is fouling you and you think you can nevertheless give them a beating and win the fight, that’s what you do.  If Tyson thought he had been unfairly butted and he thought he could resolve that with his fists, that’s what he would have done.  And that’s what Holyfield did after he was bitten.

    Tyson knew he took a beating in the first fight.  And it wasn’t like he had been out of shape or had any other easily remedied excuse.  He saw the handwriting on the wall: he knew the rematch was going to be more of the same.  He’s enough of a student of boxing history and general macho posturing culture to know that his image and moneymaking potential would be less damaged by a supposed freaked out foul out than by a repeat beat down.  And that’s the route he took.  When it wasn’t clear from the first bite that he REALLY wanted out, he bit Holy again.

    But I’m not fooled—when he had the chance to freak out with Holy within reach of his hands, Tyson chose his efforts carefully to maximize the chance of intervention and minimize immediate retaliation.  Once the ring was full of people, he dialed up the enraged act, but if the ref, the state commissioner, and the promoter could have decided right then and there that Tyson’s punishment would have been for the ring to be cleared and for him to have to face an angry payback-minded Evander, he would have run.  Evander was in no way scared of him, and that scared Tyson.

    As I mentioned, Tyson dropped the act when talking about the incident earlier this year.  And some years before, he took his beating from Lennox Lewis without looking for a face-saving escape route.  So I think he’s capable of acknowledging the truth.  My guess is that along with his knowledge of boxing history comes a desire to have some say in his place in it.  And just like other former champs have inserted into the historical record an explanation of a loss that’s an alternative to the mundane old “I got beat by a better man on that night,”  I think he’s willing to have the history books bear some evidence of a split decision between the “freaked out animal” and “looking for an escape from a beating” verdicts. 

    But I know what I saw, and for me, the decision is unanimous for the latter.

  5. Clarence George 12:49pm, 10/23/2013

    Ha!  Now that you mention it, Mike, that would indeed be a good quote for a Galento story.  I’ll keep it in mind…unless you beat me to it.

  6. Mike Schmidt 10:33am, 10/23/2013

    Actually I think Frazier said that to Buster Mathis at MSG before he went belly hunting. Seriously I was going to use Galento for this joke but I knew you would hunt me down, wait until Bronson was out for a walk with his Mommy Suzanna and do something seriously nasty to me!!!!

  7. Clarence George 08:24am, 10/23/2013

    Which reminds me of my favorite example of the best of bad Shakespeare:  “Dost yonder fat man think himself thin?  Then lend him thy mirror, and not of my mutton.”

  8. Shakespeared 07:44am, 10/23/2013

    “...as twice told, vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.” and “give every man thy ear, but few the voice.” To chew or not chew that is that question…I spit upon your canvas…

  9. Ted 07:05am, 10/23/2013

    Clarence has the beat. I’m not buying.

  10. El Bastardo Magnifico 06:15am, 10/23/2013

    I am sorry Ted, what did you say, I am having trouble earing you mate!!!

  11. Ted Spoon 06:07am, 10/23/2013

    Though his ear-gnawing killed off any sympathy votes, Tyson was right to be annoyed by the butt in the second fight. He was partly to blame for head clashes in the first bout. Not so in the rematch. Mike’s point about Holyfield being shorter is a good one. It probably would not have affected the outcome; Holyfield had Tyson sussed from the inside out, but less rough-housing may have spared boxing of arguably its worst chapter.

  12. El Bastardo Magnifico 05:55am, 10/23/2013

    This fight made him the Holyfield Butt of all jokes of course—a frontal lobe sampling Hannibal I am having an old friend over for dinner style: 1) Spock vs Tyson bout canceled. 2) Did you hear about the new Tyson computer, “Undisputed,” it has two bytes, and no memory.” 3) Tyson’s first comment after the fight, “It tastes like Chicken.” 4) Did you hear about Tyson’s dream..” He was sitting having dinner with Van Gogh and rambling “I am Jack Dempsey, I’m Jack Johnson, I am gonna eat your children….he looks over at Van Gogh and says….are you gonna eat that fucking thing or not.” 5) Poster competition for the one that never happened as Holyfield was having trouble hearing his Lawyer explain the bout contract: Bite of the Century, Blood, Sweat and Ears, The Last Supper, The Third Gogh Around,  You Wanna Piece of Me, Ear Today Somebody’s Gone Tomorrow…..

  13. Mike Schmidt 05:42am, 10/23/2013

    The big fella just does not want to admit that he got whooooped by a better fighter. He got his arse severely pounded in the first fight and more was coming the second time around.

  14. Matt McGrain 05:21am, 10/23/2013

    Must read for me.  I’ve actually got it pre-ordered.  I’m old enough to remember the insane levels of tension, even on this side of the box when he was making his ring-walk and a chance for a birds-eye view is too much to pass up on.  There’s only one Mike Tyson, and I could give a shit if he threw elbows or buoyed his bad-boy image with rap and lied about it.  In fact, I remember that being a part of boxing’s biggest thrill.

  15. Clarence George 04:19am, 10/23/2013

    We all seek to evade or shift blame on occasion, but Mike Tyson’s unvarnished narcissism, if not full-blown psychopathy, is one for the books—especially for those on abnormal psychology.  Particularly revealing is his sniffy outrage, worthy of Franklin Pangborn, when “someone even threw a fish head onto my property.”  Most unseemly!

    As for Mills Lane…he behaved disgracefully.  I understand his reluctance to stop a major fight, but biting off part of an ear and then spitting said part onto the canvas pretty much trumps any and all other considerations.

    A characteristically excellent overview and analysis by Herr Ecksel, but I’m not buying, either literally or metaphorically, Tyson’s “Undisputed Truth.”

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