Watch ‘Iron Mike’ Tyson’s First Two Wins in the Capital Region
Few boxers were more dominant, and more well-known, during their peak than Mike Tyson.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Tyson won gold medals in the Junior Olympic Games in 1981 and 1982, before making his professional boxing debut in 1985. He was an instant powerhouse, winning 26 of his first 28 fights by either a KO, or TKO. He would continue to rise in notoriety in 1986, with his first televised fight airing in February of that year.
What some people may not know, however, is that both Tyson's first professional fight, and his first televised fight, took place right here in the Capital Region.
First Professional Fight: Empire State Plaza Convention Hall, Albany, NY
Mike Tyson had a troubled childhood, to say the least. His biological father, Jimmy Kirkpatrick, abandoned his family when Tyson was born, leaving Tyson's mother, Lorna Mae Tyson, to take care of the family. She passed away when he was 16, at which point he was taken in by his trainer and mentor, Cus D'Amato. D'Amato and Tyson lived and trained in Catskill, New York, which explains the backdrop for Tyson's first professional bout.
It was March 6, 1985 when Tyson was in the ring for his first professional bout, facing off against Hector Mercedes at the Empire State Plaza Convention Hall in downtown Albany. Though he wasn't a superstar just yet, those close to the boxing world knew they may be witnessing something special. Someone, sitting ringside, was able to capture the bout on video, and that video still exists.
It may have only lasted a few minutes, but the boxing world was officially put on notice: Mike Tyson was here to stay.
First Televised Fight: Houston Field House, Campus of RPI, Troy, NY
Tyson would continue his dominance through the rest of 1985, fighting 15 times during his first year as a professional. His mentor, Cus D'Amato, would pass away in November of 1985, which would not slow down his professional career, but according to some, would have a huge impact on his personal life as he grew in popularity.
Tyson would hit mainstream in February of 1986, with his first fight that would be televised nationally. The cameras of ABC Sports pointed toward the ring at the center of the Houston Field House in Troy, New York, on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It was there that Tyson would fight Jesse Ferguson, and the cameras caught it all.
Though this is no secret, Tyson would continue to rise from there. He would become the undisputed heavyweight champion in 1987, and hold that title until 1990, when longshot Buster Douglas would finally dethrone him. Tyson's career has arguably had more ups-and-downs than any other in the boxing world, from title bouts, to bitten ears, to bankruptcy and more.
That said, years before all of that took place, Tyson was simply a promising young boxer, training in the Capital Region, trying to achieve greatness.