Top Quotes, Moments and Reaction from 'Mike Tyson: The Knockout' on May 25

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIMay 26, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 28: Mike Tyson exits the ring after receiving a split draw against Roy Jones Jr. during Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr. presented by Triller at Staples Center on November 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Triller)
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Triller

Mike Tyson's story is being told in a two-part, four-hour documentary produced by ABC, Mike Tyson: The Knockout.

The documentary features interviews with those closest to Tyson, as well as the media who covered him throughout his career, and will use exclusive material from ABC News archives as well as unaired interviews with the Hall of Famer.

The first part of the documentary aired Tuesday night, covering his childhood and personal struggles as well as the highs and lows of his early boxing career.

The episode started right in the middle of Tyson's rise in the ring, as he readied to fight Michael Spinks in a battle of undefeated stars. But before there was any insight as to what happened in Atlantic City back on June 27, 1988, things turned to Brownsville, the neighborhood of Brooklyn where Tyson grew up.

20/20 @ABC2020

Brooklyn native Shannon Briggs, who lived across the street from Mike Tyson, remembers what it was like growing up in the area during the 1970s: “Chances of making it out of Brownsville is slim to none.” #TheKnockout https://t.co/Wxtj0vzD9Q pic.twitter.com/Q3Ps5ATSVG

Actress Rosie Perez detailed the realities of life in the neighborhood, where gang violence and disappearances were a part of everyday life. Tyson's therapist, Marilyn Murray, explained that Tyson was forced to deal with all of this while also managing a home life with a mother who had alcoholism.

"She would be drinking, she was extremely abusive," Murray said. "Oftentimes, his mother would get beat up [by men she brought home] ... so violence, sex, alcoholism, abuse of women—those were his baseline for normal."

Tyson found comfort from his childhood by spending time with pigeons, and his first fight was with a neighbor who tore the head off one of his birds. After Tyson was arrested multiple times as an adolescent, he was moved to the Tryon School for Boys, a juvenile detention center.

There, he met former professional boxer Bobby Stewart, who worked as a guard at the facility. Stewart set him up with coach Cus D'Amato, who coached him at his home in Catskills and eventually had Tyson move in with his family and other boxing students.

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Peek into a young Mike Tyson's home while living with adoptive father and legendary boxing trainer Cus D'Amato. Watch TONIGHT at 8/7c on #TheKnockout on @ABC. https://t.co/Wxtj0vzD9Q pic.twitter.com/vltQhpzQlW

D'Amato encouraged him from the beginning and didn't wait to plant the idea in his head that he could be the heavyweight champion of the world. With structure and attention, it was a complete 180-degree turn from where his life was headed in Brooklyn.

In ABC interview footage, Tyson said D'Amato served as his father figure in addition to his coach and trainer. After Tyson's mother died in 1982—when he was 16 years old—D'Amato and his partner, Camille Ewald, took on an even bigger role in his life, eventually legally adopting him.

D'Amato's dedication to Tyson became clear when his assistant, Teddy Atlas, held a handgun to the then-15-year-old's head because Tyson touched his 11-year-old niece's buttocks—to which Tyson later admitted.

Three years later, D'Amato died.

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“He was everything.” After the death of his trainer and mentor Cus D’Amato, Mike Tyson described D’Amato as “more than just boxing, he was a philosopher.” #TheKnockout

On Nov. 22, 1986, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever by unseating WBC titleholder Trevor Berbick. Suddenly, he was thrust into the limelight. Even amid his sudden fame, he found time to visit Brooklyn as the hometown hero.

20/20 @ABC2020

Those close to Mike Tyson remember how his visits back to his hometown helped him stay connected and inspired an entire community: "He was that boy wonder that we could relate to." #TheKnockout https://t.co/Wxtj0vReyq pic.twitter.com/dztKaNHSgG

Here, the documentary revisited his fight with Spinks—where he won by knockout in 91 seconds.

He married actress Robin Givens, but the marriage faltered—in a sit-down interview with Barbara Walters, Givens said Tyson abused her. The interview took place as he was constantly in the news, including for attacking a news crew and crashing his car into a tree.


Everything Mike Tyson did made the news: “You couldn’t keep up with this. I mean, this guy was basically reality television way before reality TV was invented.” https://t.co/0aQfmkcmMm #TheKnockout pic.twitter.com/gMgGvgFWSn

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“When you have millions of dollars and you come from nothing, it means nothing anyway because you had nothing growing up. There’s no education for that...But it’s very hard to deal with when you’re young.” #TheKnockout https://t.co/Wxtj0vzD9Q pic.twitter.com/aIwm8f9NDs

In 2009, Tyson told Oprah Winfrey that the relationship was abusive "both ways."

Amid personal turmoil, Tyson was supposed to be preparing to face James "Buster" Douglas, who entered the bout on Feb. 11, 1990, with 42-1 odds to come away with the win.

Fueled by the "negativity" surrounding his capabilities, Douglas knocked out Tyson in the 10th round.

The first part of the documentary ended here and will be available on demand and on Hulu on Wednesday. Part 2 of the documentary airs next Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET.