The Olympics have proven to be a great gateway for boxers to make a name for themselves before they make their way to glory in the professional ranks.
Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk, Katie Taylor, Wladimir Klistchko, Lennox Lewis, Riddick Bowe, Andre Ward, Muhammad Ali, Vasyl Lomachenko, Oscar De Le Hoya – the list goes on – all won gold medals before winning titles. global as a pro.
Joshua represented the GB team at the London 2012 Olympics
For some, it is so close, but so far away. Whether it was Floyd Mayweather winning a bronze medal in Atlanta or Amir Khan winning silver in Athens, many famous boxing names have played in the Olympics.
Mike Tyson, one of the most famous and dangerous boxers who ever lived, wanted to be one of these illustrious athletes, but failed to even make it to the 1984 U.S. squad.
As an amateur, Tyson won gold medals at the 1981 and 1982 Junior Olympics, beating Joe Cortez in 1981 and beating Kelton Brown in 1982.
By the time he tried to secure his spot at the Los Angeles Games, he had Evander Holyfield and Pernell Whittaker trying to form the same team. The competition was fierce.
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Tyson gained a formidable reputation in his amateur career which was guided by Cus D’Amato and Teddy Atlas
Tyson lost to Henry Tillman at the US Olympic Trials in Texas. Iron Mike was then considered “Tillman’s most worthy opponent” for that performance and got a second chance to make the Caesars Palace squad a month later.
Sadly, he was beaten again, leaving father figure and coach Cus D’Amato to console Tyson in tears. Tillman won the gold medal, but his professional career never rose to the heights of Tyson’s.
Tillman retired with a 25-6 record. He met Tyson in the pro ranks in 1990 during his comeback fight after his shock loss to Buster Douglas. Tyson knocked him out in the first round for revenge.
Tyson categorically took revenge on Tillman in the pro ranks
Holyfield, meanwhile, actually made the 1984 squad, competing as a light-heavyweight. He became a household name in America at the end of this summer, but was robbed of the eternal glory he should have had.
No one knew anything about “The Real Deal” before Olympic qualifying, but beat amateur world champion Ricky Womack twice in consecutive days to get people to notice.
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Holyfield captured America’s imagination in 1984
Holyfield worked his way through Olympic competition. He won two referee-stopped contests – mostly TKOs, usually awarded when a participant was knocked down three times in a round – before decimating Kenyan Sylvanus Okello with a first round knockout in his third bout.
America was fully behind their new hero ahead of their semi-final clash with New Zealander Kevin Barry.
Then everything went wrong.
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Many felt that Holyfield was stolen from the Olympics
Holyfield dominated the first two rounds and in the third he landed a body shot and then a left hook to Barry’s chin that knocked the Kiwi down to the canvas. He had finished.
Somewhere in the middle of that combo, Yugoslav referee Gligorije Novičić called for a break. Because Holyfield hit Barry after the break – which must have been literal milliseconds – Novičić disqualified Holyfield and awarded the fight to Barry.
The plot got complicated when everyone realized that Novičić’s compatriot Anton Josipovic was already in the fight for the gold medal while waiting for the winner.
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Holyfield took the situation in his stride and it made America fall in love with him.
However, Barry was stunned by a bullet in the head which, according to Olympic rules, meant he was medically suspended for 28 days and therefore couldn’t even compete for the gold medal in which he had been lucky.
Josipovic took gold, Barry won silver and Holyfield had to settle for bronze without a final ever taking place.
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The United States appealed, but it came to nothing. They also estimated that in total Barry had received six cautions and cautions, usually enough to disqualify an amateur boxer.
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Young Holyfield beat names like George Foreman, Larry Holmes and Henry Tillman out of the Olympics
The Olympic committee, while not overturning the decision, allowed Holyfield to receive his bronze medal despite the fact that traditionally a competitor would not do so after being disqualified.
Despite all this, the Olympic spirit was there. When Barry’s hand was raised he made sure to put Holyfield’s hand up in the ring – he knew who the better man was.
Then, at the medal ceremony as boos echoed through the arena, Josipovic made sure Holyfield joined him on the gold podium.
While Tyson and Holyfield didn’t get the Olympic glory they wanted and / or deserved, they have had legendary professional careers that are sure to bring them solace.
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Referee Lane Mills (L) steps in as Evander Holyfield (R) reacts after Mike Tyson bites his ear
Tyson has become one of the biggest box office attractions boxing has ever seen and a former undisputed heavyweight world champion.
He is also still the youngest man to win a world heavyweight title at 20 years and four months, to date.
Holyfield is the only boxer in history to reign as the undisputed champion in two weight classes after achieving this feat in cruiserweight and then heavyweight. He is also the only man to have won the world heavyweight title four times.
He and Tyson actually fought twice in the late 1990s. We’re sure you’ve heard of it. Holyfield upset the odds in the first, then gave Tyson a bite in the second …