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Mike Tyson calls for Hulu boycott after streamer announces unauthorized 'Iron Mike' series

Jack Baer
·Writer
·3 min read
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A miniseries based on the life and career of Mike Tyson is on the way from Hulu, but it's already receiving counterpunches from the former heavyweight champion..

Hulu announced Thursday it had picked up the eight-episode "Iron Mike," which will come from the team behind "I, Tonya." That includes director Craig Gillespie, writer Steven Rogers and producer Margot Robbie, plus showrunner Karen Gist.

One person not involved, however, was Tyson himself, and he soon made clear his displeasure with the unauthorized biographical series on Instagram. 

The boxer called for a boycott of Hulu, painting its efforts as "tone-deaf cultural misappropriation" and saying it is offensive to make such a move during Black History Month. Tyson also teased that an authorized project based on his story is in development and will be announced in the coming days.

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Tyson's full statement:

Hulu's announcement to do an unauthorized mini-series of the Tyson story without compensation, although unfortunate, isn't surprising. This announcement on the heels of social disparities in our country is a prime example of how Hulu's corporate greed led to this tone-deaf cultural misappropriation of the Tyson life story. To make this announcement during Black History Month only confirms Hulu's concern for dollars over respect for black story rights. Hollywood needs to be more sensitive to black experiences especially after all that has transpired in 2020. The real Mike Tyson authorized story is in development and will be announced in coming days. Hulu to announce stealing a black athletes story during Black History month couldn't be more inappropriate or tone deaf. #boycotthulu #corporategreed

Plus a second statement from the same post:

These actions taken bu Hulu are just the tip of the iceberg. We shouldn't be surprised by these abhorrent actions as they represent the systemic racism that has plagued Hollywood for its entire existence. These corporate giants hide behind plays and praise themselves for offering tone-deaf attempts at diversity and inclusion like Hulu's "Black Stories" playlist that recommends stories about Black culture to viewers on the app. Yet behind closed doors they steal stories from the Black community. #BoycottHulu

The "real Mike Tyson authorized story" may be the biopic currently in development and starring Jamie Foxx, who told Yahoo Movies last year that Tyson was helping him prepare for the role.

Mike Tyson's displeasure is not surprising

Even beyond Tyson's accusations of racism, his mentioned lack of compensation and the typical drama of an unauthorized biography, there are plenty of other reasons why a battle over Tyson's story could be so contentious. Tyson has a litany of past incidents that he could be viewed harshly by a modern audience if the miniseries touches on them, most notably his 1991 rape conviction and the domestic violence allegations from his ex-wife Robin Givens.

Givens has spoken recently about Tyson getting violent with her, which he freely admitted to doing in his own biography. In an infamous 1988 interview with Barbara Walters, Givens characterized her life with Tyson as “torture," "pure hell" and "worse than anything I could possibly imagine.”

Tyson has long loomed as one of the most famous and controversial figures in the history of not just boxing, but all of sports. His rise in the late 1980s positioned him as quite possibly the most feared boxer ever, up until his shocking loss to heavy underdog Buster Douglas in 1990.

Tyson's life as a boxer saw heavyweight titles, brutal knockouts, an ear bitten off, a declaration of bankruptcy, fake penises, failed drug tests and extensive legal troubles, both the aforementioned violence against women and other incidents such as his assault of two motorists. His image has been somewhat burnished in recent years through media appearances like his role in the "Hangover" movies, his "Mike Tyson Mysteries" series on Adult Swim and a number of tell-all interviews.

Tyson most recently returned to the ring in an exhibition against fellow boxing legend Roy Jones Jr., which ended in a draw.

There is obviously no shortage of material for a Tyson miniseries, or even two of them.

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