• July 24, 2024

When Fear Became a Harsh Reality: Mike Tyson’s Heartfelt Story of the Night with Mitch Green and an $850 Jacket

An accomplished boxer and influential figure, Mitch Green had previously faced off against Mike Tyson in the boxing ring during Tyson’s ascent to the pinnacle of the sport. In 1986, they went the distance, engaging in a fierce battle that lasted the full 10 rounds at Madison Square Garden. It took place six months before Tyson, also known as ‘Iron Mike,’ made history as the youngest man to claim a world heavyweight title by defeating Trevor Berbick.

Despite being significantly taller, Green managed to last until the final bell by engaging Tyson in close quarters and employing a strategy of clinching and holding. However, their unplanned rematch on the streets of Harlem at 4 a.m. turned out to be a brief and intense encounter.

Green’s anger towards Tyson stemmed not only from his belief that the promoter, Don King, had underpaid him, but also from his desire for a lucrative second fight that seemed unlikely to materialize within the confines of the boxing ring.

However, when Green confronted Tyson in August of 1988, he had an additional motive. As a member of a well-known New York gang, he considered Tyson’s intrusion into his territory during the early hours of the morning as a disrespect that he couldn’t tolerate without compromising his reputation.

 

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Tyson found himself in Harlem on a visit to a clothing boutique called Dapper Dan’s, intending to collect a white leather jacket worth $850. The jacket bore the words “Don’t Believe the Hype,” taken from a track by Public Enemy, prominently displayed across the back. Unbeknownst to Tyson, Green had been informed of his presence and abruptly burst into the shop, shirtless, hurling insults at his longstanding adversary.

Prior to this encounter, Tyson had been out enjoying the nightlife and indulging in drinks. Nevertheless, as recounted in his autobiography, Undisputed Truth, he claimed that during that time, he was attempting to portray himself as a corporate-friendly champion, mindful of endorsements. Consequently, Tyson responded to Green, saying, “Mitch, you ought to carefully consider your actions. I don’t believe this path you’re taking will ultimately benefit your well-being. Remember, I have already triumphed over you when we faced off in the ring. It would be wise for you to promptly exit through the nearest available door.”

Whether one finds it plausible that a 22-year-old Tyson, under the influence, delivered such a speech in the rough streets at 4 a.m., what ensued was unquestionably a violent altercation. According to Tyson, it all began when Green tore his shirt pocket, provoking a retaliatory response. Green, on the other hand, claimed that Tyson turned his rings around (to avoid damaging them) before delivering a sucker punch. Nevertheless, Tyson undoubtedly landed the initial blow, followed by several more.

 

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“I was under the influence of alcohol and unaware that he had consumed angel dust [PCP], causing him to be unresponsive to my punches,” recounted Tyson. “I threw punches, striking him repeatedly, and although he seemed unsteady, swaying from side to side as if about to collapse, he managed to stay on his feet. In a moment reminiscent of Bruce Lee’s ‘Enter the Dragon,’ I delivered a roundhouse kick to his posterior, causing him to fall.”

However, as Tyson and his driver proceeded towards their vehicle, Green, in a zombie-like state, unexpectedly reemerged, reminiscent of Jason from the film ‘Friday the 13th,’ and delivered a kick to my groin. Once again, I subdued Green, but when I attempted to leave in my Rolls-Royce, my driver informed me that we were unable to move due to Green being beneath the wheels. Green rose once more and forcefully ripped off one of the car’s side mirrors, further fueling my anger. This time, I emerged from my limousine and unleashed my signature punch, the right uppercut. Boom! Mitch was propelled into the air and landed in a limp manner, his head striking the ground.”

 

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Tyson was filled with fear and concern that he had unintentionally caused fatal harm to Green. However, when the police arrived at 5 a.m., they discovered that Green was alive, albeit bearing visible signs of injury. His face displayed bruising, his left eye was swollen shut, and he had a deep cut on the bridge of his nose. Tyson, too, did not emerge unscathed from the tumultuous encounter. A hairline fracture in his right hand resulted in the postponement of his scheduled title defense against Frank Bruno from Britain. The fight eventually took place the following year.

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