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Mike Tyson Had His Face Tattooed 17 Years Ago Today

Mike Tyson Had His Face Tattooed 17 Years Ago Today

The tribal design on 'The Baddest Man on the Planet's' face has become iconic.



17 years ago today, Mike Tyson had his famous tribal face tattoo done which has become an iconic part of 'Iron Mike' and his legacy.

Tyson made one hell of a reputation for himself inside the boxing ring, and a rather shaky one for himself outside of it, too, to say the least.

The controversial figure holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles, but he may be best remembered for biting a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear off.

Tyson was returning to the ring to take on Holyfield for the second time after his first defeat, and was trying to prove to everyone that he still had what it took to be the best. Bizarrely, the fight was stopped in the third round after Tyson ripped a piece of Holyfield's ear off - something he claims he did because Holyfield kept headbutting him.

One thing that is probably most recognisable about Tyson is his face tattoo.

In 2003, the 53-year-old got a tribal tattoo on the left side of his head.

Originally, however, the boxer wanted something different to be permanently inked onto his temple and cheek. Talking in an interview on In Depth with Graham Bensinger, he revealed that he wanted his face to be covered in heart tattoos, simply because he thought it was cool and that he'd then be recognised as 'The Man of Hearts'. The tattoo artist then advised Tyson against this.

Shout out to the artist by the way, you have to be one fucking brave guy to tattoo Tyson's face.


MMA fighter War Machine, who was arrested after assaulting his ex girlfriend, claimed to know the reason behind the boxer getting the tattoo, saying: "I know why you tattooed your face, why you hated the man in the mirror.

"I know what it is to hate those who love you, and to sabotage those relationships - I used to smash my own face in.

"I used to smash my face in worse than any of my MMA fights, and just look into the mirror and cry - hating myself."

The reason behind the ink is far less complex.

According to the man himself in his 2008 documentary Tyson, the tattoo represents his 'warrior status'. It's similar to the ones that members of the Māori tribe, a warrior-like tribe in New Zealand, wore to scare people in battle. Not that he needed anything more to make him scary.

He also got it because he thought the design was 'cool'.

He said: "I thought it was so hot. I just thought it was a cool tattoo."

After getting it done, millions have gone on to get the same. Tyson once said: "I love this tattoo. Over a million people got it now, so I did a good thing. This is good."

Words by Mark McGowan

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Mike Tyson, Boxing, Tattoo