The controversial reason behind Mike Tyson’s infamous face tattoo

Adam Hamdani
The Independent
Tyson got the tattoo shortly before he was meant to fight: Getty
Tyson got the tattoo shortly before he was meant to fight: Getty

Mike Tyson’s former trainer has made the bombshell accusation that the heavyweight boxing legend got the infamous tribal tattoo on his face to avoid fighting late in his career.

Tyson, 53, is regarded as one of the greatest heavyweights in the history of boxing.

He became the first heavyweight to hold the WBA, WBC and IBF belts and later became the lineal champion.

Late in his career, after he was stopped by Lennox Lewis in 2002, Tyson was scheduled to fight compatriot Clifford Etienne in February 2003. However, just days before the fight he decided to get the tribal tattoo in Las Vegas and, shortly after, he pulled out of the fight.

And his former trainer, Jeff Fenech, has admitted that he was stunned when Tyson skipped training to get the tattoo, as well as bitterly disappointed that the former champion then decided to withdraw from the fight.

Tyson got the tattoo shortly before he was meant to fight (Getty)
Tyson got the tattoo shortly before he was meant to fight (Getty)

“My first impression was that I’ve never had a tattoo in my life, but I thought we are fighting in a week and when you get a tattoo you can’t fight because they scab up and it wouldn’t be healthy to do that,” Fenech told Fox Sports.

“We sat down and spoke and he didn’t really want to fight and he wasn’t prepared to and that was one of the reasons he got the tattoo.

“After a good hour talk I was in tears when I left the house that night. I went and stayed in a hotel because I was pretty despondent.

“I was away from home for eight weeks in Vegas getting him ready for the fight and I stayed in a hotel and got on the first flight back to my family because that was my priority.”

The fight was quickly rescheduled for the following week and Tyson won via knockout in the first round. However, Fenech was not present to coach him to victory.

“A week later he fought and knocked out Clifford in one round and I was upset,” the trainer added.

“I was happy for Mike that he won, but I was also upset that I had trained him for eight weeks and I wasn’t a part of that win.”

Tyson would fight twice more in his professional boxing career, losing to Great Britain’s Danny Williams and Ireland’s Kevin McBride.

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