As an amateur, 'Iron' Mike won gold medals at the 1981 and 1982 Junior Olympics (not to be confused with the Youth Olympics). Tyson defeated Joe Cortez in 1981 and did the same to Kelton Brown the following year.
By the time the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics were fast approaching, Tyson was poised to represent Team USA. However, Tyson had some stiff competition for the coveted spot on the men's boxing team. Fellow boxing legends Evander Holyfield and Pernell Whittaker were vying for the same position as Mike Tyson.
Mike Tyson lost to Henry Tillman at the U.S. Olympic trials in Fort Worth, Texas. Due to his impressive performance, Tyson was given another opportunity to qualify for the team. Unfortunately, he would lose a second time to Tillman, leaving Tyson sobbing in devastation.
Tillman advanced and went on to capture the gold medal in the Olympics. However, his professional career did not reach the heights that Tyson's did. Tillman retired with a pro boxing record of 25-6 in 1996.
Mike Tyson's revenge
Moving on from his amateur career, Mike Tyson made his pro-boxing debut on March 6, 1985. At 18-year-old Tyson showed flashes of what's in store for the years to come as he dismantled Hector Mercedes via first-round TKO.
'Iron' Mike went on to win his next 36 fights before losing to James 'Buster' Douglas in one of the most shocking upsets in sports history. In his return fight after the loss, Tyson squared off against his old rival Henry Tillman.
Motivated by the loss to Douglas and the haunting memories of the 1984 Olympics, Tyson did not hold back. With 25 seconds remaining in the first round, Tyson knocked out the man who prevented him from achieving his Olympic dreams.
Once it was all said and done for Tillman's career, he reflected on his journey as a boxer and his epic battles with Mike Tyson. In an interview with Boxing Scene, Tillman said:
"I think amateur boxing is harder than in the pros," Tillman said. Where you fight every two or three months as a pro, amateur boxers fight as much as five times in tournaments. I was also able to travel the world as an amateur boxer and see the world differently than the general public. I found that the world is different than LA; it's a big old world out there."