• July 23, 2024

Behind the Controversy: Russell Hornsby Speaks Out to Defend ‘Mike’ Biopic on Hulu Against Tyson’s Backlash

Mike Tyson has made it very clear how he really feels about “Mike,” the Hulu biopic based on his life — and it’s not good.

But Russell Hornsby, who stars as boxing promoter Don King in the eight-episode series, said that “we try to honor Mike Tyson and show some truths” about his life.

“He is not the first one to have a grievance about how he is portrayed in film or how he may be portrayed in books,” Hornsby told The Post. “This is a no-holds-barred look at Tyson and his life and you have to take the crooked with the straight.

“We did not try to glorify him and we did not try to demonize him,” he said. “I think what we had intended to do was tell his story.”


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Tyson, the former heavyweight champ, posted on his Instagram page that he did not authorize, nor was he paid for, his life story.

“Don’t let Hulu fool you. I don’t support their story about my life,” he wrote. “They stole my life story and didn’t pay me. To Hulu executives I’m just a n****r they can sell on the auction block.”

It wasn’t the first time that Tyson slammed the streaming network; the first time was when the project was announced last year, during Black History Month. “This announcement on the heels of social disparities in our country is a prime example of how Hulu’s corporate greed led to this tone-deaf cultural misappropriation of the Tyson life story,” he wrote then.

“I think it’s okay for Mike to feel that way. This man has been through a lot,” Hornsby said. “He had a lot of ups and downs and he has a right to feel that way, but I am sure that all will be handled in the future. I’m sure that he has lawyers, Hulu has lawyers and they will figure it out.”


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Trevante Rhodes (”Moonlight”) plays Tyson in “Mike,” premiering Aug. 25 on the streamer.

Even with all of Tyson’s animosity, Hornsby said he would happily embrace a meeting with the Brooklyn native.

“If I was to bump into Mike Tyson I don’t think that he would have a problem with me personally. I don’t think his problem is with me [it’s] with others,” he said. “My feeling with Mike and Don [King] is that I did not look to denigrate them. I didn’t look to cast aspersions … I looked to honor Don King and his legacy and what he meant to the world of boxing.

“Is [King] going to be looked at positively in what he has done with putting a lot of money in a lot of fighters pockets, and making money for a lot of people in this country … white folks included? Yes,” he said. “So we have to take the crooked with the straight and balance both. When you do that it invites a real nuanced conversation that I hope the audience is ready to have.

“Hulu did not look to just denigrate Tyson, but this story is out there — so let’s have a conversation about what was being presented. I’m asking audiences to judge the show through today’s lens. Mike Tyson is a byproduct of being made in America … for better or worse.”

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