CANASTOTA, New York (AFP) – Mike Tyson, whose legendary tale of punishing power and meteroic rise ended in an epic fall from grace, will be among the legends inducted Sunday into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Tyson, three weeks shy of his 45th birthday, became the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history in 1986 at age 20 and finished with a record of 50-6 with 44 knockouts, personifying at times the best and worst of the sport.
"I am honored," Tyson said. "The sport of boxing has given me so much and it is truly a blessing to be acknowledged alongside other boxing legends because they paved the way for me, as I hope I have inspired others."
Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez, Russian-born Australian Kostya Tszyu, Mexican trainer Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain, referee Joe Cortez and Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone, movie boxer "Rocky", were also honored.
But none of them could match the levels Tyson reached as a global sports icon, especially in his younger days after escaping the mean streets of Brooklyn and finding riches by pounding opponents with first-round knockouts.
The downfall of "Iron Mike" began in 1990 at Tokyo when the undisputed champion suffered the first loss of his career, a 10th-round knockout at the hands of James "Buster" Douglas in one of the most shocking upsets in sport.
In 1992, Tyson was convicted of raping a beauty queen at a pageant in Indianapolis, Indiana. He served three years of a six-year sentence before his release in 1995, steadfastly denying he raped the woman.
Tyson reclaimed the heavyweight throne but lost to Evander Holyfield in 1996 and in a 1997 rematch infamously bit Holyfield's ears twice, serving a year's banishment in exile for the move.
Despite substance abuse and serving jail time for assault, Tyson made one final run at boxing supremacy, but in his last world title fight he was knocked out in the eighth round by Britain's Lennox Lewis at Memphis, Tennessee.
Tyson filed for bankruptcy in 2003 and retired after losses to Britain's Danny Williams in 2004 and American Kevin McBride in 2005.
Tyson quit after six rounds in his final fight, finishing his last round sitting on the canvas.
"I don't have the stomach for this," Tyson said. "I don't have that ferocity. I'm not an animal anymore."
Outrageous and controversial remarks were Tyson's stock and trade, but a kinder, gentler Tyson has emerged since then, appearing in "The Hangover" films and in reality television shows exploring his love of training birds.