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Mike Tyson Reportedly Came Close To Beating Up Michael Jordan In 1988

Mike Tyson Reportedly Came Close To Beating Up Michael Jordan In 1988

A story has surfaced about how Mike Tyson and Michael Jordan were out for dinner together 32 years ago - and the then heavyweight champ came close to attacking the NBA icon.

In 1988, the two Mikes were in Chicago at the birthday party of top NFL player Richard Dent. Promoter Don King and Tyson's co-manager Rory Holloway were also guests - and the latter shared the tale of Iron Mike confronting Jordan in his book Taming the Beast: The Untold Story of Team Tyson.


The boxer was unbeaten and at the peak of his powers in '88 but his marriage to actress Robin Givens was rapidly falling apart and heading for a bitter, costly divorce.

Rising Chicago Bulls superstar Jordan had dated Givens before Tyson was on the scene and this - combined with the boxer's plentiful supply of cocktails - reportedly caused a confrontation.

As Holloway tells it: "Tyson's sitting there with his drink of choice, a Long Island Tea, and when he drinks his real feelings come out.

"I'm telling the server to water his drinks down 'cause I see where this is going. Mike stares across the table at Michael Jordan. He says, 'Hey man, you think I'm stupid? I know you f**ked with my bitch.


"Jordan looks like he just seen a ghost. 'I know you messed with her,' Mike says. 'You can tell me.'"

Rather understandably, MJ declined to tell Iron Mike anything of the sort and apparently looked as though he wished he could be sucked down a golf hole and into another universe.

Hollyway added: "It was a circus, for real, that night. Don King trying to change the subject. Me and John [Horne, Tyson's other co-manager] trying to hold Mike down. Mike telling everyone he's going to bust Jordan's ass. Jordan's dressed sharp as always and he can't get out of there fast enough."

It's an outlandish tale - and Tyson in 1988 had enough pent-up rage to make anything possible. But then Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, also present at the meal, gave a tamer version of the story to the Chicago Tribune in 2015.

"It's silly," said Ditka. "Michael Jordan is not going to get into an altercation with anyone. He's a class guy. First of all, the stupidest thing in the world is alcohol. When you drink, you get that mouth running sometimes. That's probably what happened."

Meanwhile birthday boy Dent acknowledged that Tyson had brought up Givens at the meal - and that words were exchanged - but played down the confrontation.

"It was a little get-together after Michael Jordan's game," Dent told the Tribune. "After the game, we had a little get-together at a restaurant. That was about it... [Tyson] said some things to Mike. I don't recall anything of that nature. I never saw [Jordan] look scared."

Well, perhaps high-stakes gambler Jordan just had a superb poker face. Because no matter how he approached the subject, if a 1988-era Mike Tyson brought up the topic of us previously dating his wife, we'd have run for the hills.

Maybe His Airness styled it out, though Holloway defended his take in the book, stating: "I know I'm not crazy, you don't forget stuff like that."

Whatever really happened, the two biggest stars in US sport at that time sharing dinner together must've been something to behold. Fix us a Long Island ice tea please, barman.

All imagery: PA Images

Topics: Mike Tyson, Boxing News, Boxing, NBA, Michael Jordan

Alex Reid

Alex Reid is a writer at SPORTbible who’s previously strung words together for FourFourTwo, Boxing News, The Guardian and, yes, Cruise International (it’s about big ships, not Tom). Interests range from football and boxing to real sports like WWE and darts. He is not a cage fighter.


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