The $400m Question: How Did Mike Tyson Lose His Entire Boxing Earnings?


In his prime, Mike Tyson was arguably the most famous sportsman on the planet, as he transcended the world of boxing.

During his illustrious career, it is believed the former world champion earned more than $400million (£320m), as he became the biggest – and most controversial – fighter of his generation.

But since his retirement he has filed for bankruptcy, admitting he now has “no money”.

Tyson won his first heavyweight world title in 1985, demolishing Trevor Berbick. For that he earned $1.5m. He continued to earn similar purses until 1988, where he beat Larry Holmes earning $5m.

Just two months later, he doubled his highest purse when he beat Tony Tubbs in Japan.

It was the fight against Michael Spinks, one where he earned $20m, where he announced himself as one of the highest-paid sportsmen on the planet.

His earnings then dropped significantly – picking up around $7m for beating Brit hero Frank Bruno for the first time.


He was paid around $6m for his stunning defeat by Buster Douglas which stopped him earning a fortune against Evander Holyfield.

After his pair of fights with Donovan Ruddock, Tyson was sentenced to prison for rape – but his release would signify the richest period of his career.

His comeback fight, a first-round knockout of Peter McNeely in 1995, saw him earn a stunning $25m. Those sensational purses would only increase, with his next four fights, seeing him bank around $120m in total.

The final of those four, was the infamous rematch with Holyfield, where Tyson was found guilty of biting his opponent – and subsequently banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

But it was during this time that ‘Iron Mike’s’ spending was truly out of control. According to reports, during the 33-month spell after his release, he spent $4.5m on cars, $100,000 per month on clothes and $400,000 on animals like pigeons and Siberian tigers. He would also spent $125,000 a year on training his animals, while a staggering $240,000 was reserved for ‘walking around money’.


He also purchased a 21 bedroom-mansion in Connecticut, with an on-site casino and nightclub.


After fighting Frans Botha, Tyson’s career was ended with successive defeats to Lennox Lewis and then Kevin McBridge, with his final fight seeing him earn $5m in 2005.

However, despite those massive earnings, in 2003, Tyson filed for bankruptcy, admitting he had spent his money quicker than it was coming in.

“My whole life has been a waste – I’ve been a failure,” he said.

“I just want to escape. I’m really embarrassed with myself and my life. I want to be a missionary. I think I could do that while keeping my dignity without letting people know they chased me out of the country.

“I want to get this part of my life over as soon as possible. In this country nothing good is going to come of me. People put me so high; I wanted to tear that image down.”

More recently, however, Tyson has turned his life around; taking his one-man Broadway show on a tour of America before branching out into the cannabis trade with his own farm.

The fight with the legendary Jones Jr on November 28, is set to be a Box Office spinner but – as if to show his transformation – he will be donating his entire purse to charity.



“It’s going to be for various charities,” he told TMZ Sports.

“Nobody has to ever worry about me getting rich, or getting jealous, or saying I’m doing [the comeback] for money.

“I’m not getting anything. I just feel good doing this because I can.”

Tyson has found a new peace in religion and claimed he is more content now he doesn’t have millions of dollars in his bank.

“I’m happy I don’t have money anymore, I don’t have any money,” he said in July.

“‘Cause no one can take anything from me anymore. There are no vultures. Nobody out there trying to take anything from me. So I’m just happy.”


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