This Is What Really Happened In The Locker Room Before Mike Tyson Knocked Out Michael Spinks

Knocking out his adversaries in record time wasn't enough for Mike Tyson. The former world boxing champion was also very good at getting into his opponents's heads and frightening them before they got in the ring.

Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks
© Getty Images
Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks

In June 1988, Mike Tyson was only 22 years old, but already had an incredible track record. 35 wins and no defeats, heavyweight world champion for 2 years with 7 consecutive titles, including 5 that ended with a KO. In total, he had already delivered 31 knockouts during his short career!

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At that time, Iron Mike had already earned WBA, WBC and IBF heavyweight belts, and was only missing the "lineal" and The Ring, which fellow countryman and elder Michael Spinks held at the time. The latter was 32 years old and had a solid record of 31 victories in as many fights. But in spite of this flawless background, Tyson was by far the favorite for their confrontation at Atlantic City's Convention Hall, in a room owned by Donald Trump ...


A few minutes before the two boxers came in, followed by a string of celebrities (Sean Penn, Madonna, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, etc), Michael Spinks's manager made a complaint: no members of his boxer's team were able to witness Mike Tyson's hands being bandaged, per the rules. He made a scene so they could be authorized to check that his boxer's opponent hadn't done anything to his hands that could benefit him during the fight.

The issue was that Tyson was like a lion in a cage before getting into the ring, like a sociopath, waiting to be released so he could rain down on his opponent... Excited and ready to fight, he was always surprisingly wild in the locker room. He started punching the wall to unwind. His way of calming down and maintaining his state of mind while he waited.

The thing is, Mike Tyson being the beast that he is, the wall gave out when he punched it... And Michael Spinks, his fists's future target, was on the other side of locker room and heard the sound of Iron Mike taking his stress out on the walls.


Despite his experience, the 32-year-old American boxer started losing composure as the minutes ticked by. His coach ended up going to validate Tyson's bandages, and they were able to enter the room. Except, instead of a determined champion, Spinks looked more like a deer caught in headlights. He was covered in sweat, his face was frozen, and he looked very scared.

On the other hand, Mike remained fierce and concentrated. The difference between the look in the two opponents' eyes during the face off was clear: determined, Tyson examined Spinks's face, whereas the latter couldn't look Tyson in the eye.

A few seconds later, the fight started, and ended shortly after that. After barely a minute, Tyson's adversary was on the ground. Spinks struggled to get back up, and was executed immediately afterwards. 91 seconds, knockout in the first round. Although the fight would probably have had the same ending if the locker room incident hadn't occurred, the loser's coach recognized a few years later that he had never seen his fighter so stressed out by the idea of getting into a ring. Michael Spinks also retired a few months later. That was his last fight...

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