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Did heavyweight boxing legend Mike Tyson ever break his back?

Mike Tyson revealed his injuries after knocking out his opponent in 2003
Mike Tyson revealed his injuries after knocking out his opponent in 2003
Tarun Bhatt
Modified 23 Feb 2021

The iconic post-fight interview, when former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson claimed to have broken his back, is engraved in every boxing fanatic's memory. In an inarticulate manner, Mike Tyson revealed to Jim Gray that his spinal cord was hurt coming into the fight.

The year was 2003. Mike Tyson was coming off a loss to the then WBC and IBF heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. In an event named "Back to Business", 'Iron Mike' made his return to fight Clifford Etienne.

Etienne was named the "most exciting fighter to watch" in 2000 but was considered by many a fringe contender.

No indication was made by Mike Tyson's camp towards his injury leading up to the fight. However, Freddie Roach (Mike Tyson's coach) was apprehensive about Tyson's return a few months after getting knocked out by Lewis.

Etienne was looking to stamp his authority as a tough contender and so, this was going to be a tough matchup for Tyson.

However, in the very first round of his fight, Tyson landed a right hand that knocked Etienne out cold. Later in the post-fight interview, Tyson commented on his back injuries.

The comments made by Tyson made for one of the most remarkable post-fight interviews.

"I broke my back. My back is broken... Spinal!", said Mike Tyson.

Mike Tyson's hilarious reaction to his 2003 post-fight interview


Almost 17 years after the incident took place, Mike Tyson gave his take on the remarkable 2003 incident.

In an interview with Compubox TV, Tyson laughed at his ineloquence in communicating his back injuries to Jim Gray.

Tyson mentioned that the wear and tear caused by years of fighting had shifted his spinal cord and needed to be operated.

Mike Tyson announced his retirement from pro-boxing in 2005 when he lost to Kevin McBride. This was a tune-up fight for Tyson as McBride was considered by many to be a journeyman of the sport. After getting finished in the seventh round, Tyson decided to hang up his gloves.

However, 15 years later, Mike Tyson is ready to trade leather with fellow reitred legends of the sport.

Tyson fought in an eight-round exhibition bout with Roy Jones Jr. in Novmber last year. It is speculated that Evander Holyfield is going to be Tyson's next opponent.

Published 23 Feb 2021, 13:50 IST
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