Donald Trump – The Mike Tyson Years

Donald Trump: The Mike Tyson Years

The business of boxing is like no other. With little or no barrier for entry, the sport has seduced and lured countless people with deep pockets into a world in which, for the right price, anyone can be a player.

On a cold evening back in June 1988 a 42 year old Donald Trump made his move to become a big time figure within boxing. Atlantic City was the capital of the Boxing World and Donald Trump had a lot to do with it.

In order to rival Las Vegas, Atlantic City needed someone who was willing to risk the millions necessary to bring big fights to the boardwalk. In Trump, they found their man. He negotiated feverishly with Don King and Mike Tyson’s management team to bring the heavyweight champion to New Jersey. In doing so, Trump hosted all the significant bouts during what many deem the prime of Mike Tyson’s career.


Trump brought his knack of deal-making to New Jerseys Boardwalk and in less then a year, he was the dominant player in boxing. Eclipsing the longtime ruler of the boxing empire – Caesars Palace.

Trump hosted the heavyweight clash between Iron Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks in Atlantic City, both fighters were undefeated and each had a claim to being the legitimate heavyweight champion of the world. At the time it was the richest fight in boxing history, grossing $70 million dollars. Tyson earned a record purse of $20 million dollars with Spinks getting $13.5 million.

Minutes before the fighters were due to enter the ring, there was a commotion in Tyson’s dressing room. Butch Lewis (Michael Spinks promoter) noticed a bump in Tyson’s gloves and demanded his hands be re-wrapped. The delay did nothing but anger Tyson, he told his trainer Kevin Rooney “you know, I’m gonna hurt this guy.”

True to his word Tyson attacked Spinks from the opening bell, landing a solid left hook in the first ten seconds. After spending some time on the ropes Spinks received a left uppercut and a right hand to the body, this forced him to take a knee. The problem was only one minute had passed; this was also the first time Spinks had been knocked down in his professional career.

After taking a count of four the two men moved towards each other, Tyson landed a left-right combination to Spinks head. This put Spinks down once again except this time he was unable to get back up. The fight was over after 91 seconds. The round was later named round of the ear for 1988 by Ring Magazine.

Following Tyson’s win Trump announced that he was becoming a business adviser to Mike. Life got increasingly chaotic for Mike after that fight. He told reporters he was “burned out” and announced his retirement at the age of 22. His marriage to Robin Givens was falling apart and he was in the middle of suing manager Bill Cayton, whom Trump helped push aside when he slid into Tyson’s circle.


Trump even made $2 million dollars when Don King sued Buster Douglas and the Wynn Group after Douglas upset Tyson and they staged a fight with Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas. Thanks to Trump’s vision and his bankroll, Atlantic City became the new fight capital.

Just how successful was Trump in the world of boxing? It’s difficult to say in terms of revenue but he has profited from the priceless power of branding. Each time the Tyson vs Spinks bout is replayed on TV or online, The Trump Brand is right there. For the entire world to see and generations to come.

But who would have thought back then that Donald Trump would go on to become the 45th president of the United States? Using a few tricks from his time in boxing,  bad mouthing and dissing his opponent Hilary Clinton on numerous occasions during their respective presidential campaigns.

The political lightweight came out fighting in the presidential punch up against a seasoned contender, after landing several vicious low blows he claimed a substantial majority decision which has left the world reeling in disbelief.

The president elect had a vision to build the Trump Plaza with a walkway over to the Convention Centre. He then managed to persuade some of this biggest names in Boxing to make the Convention Centre their new home, it made Atlantic City relevant in the  boxing world. You could say he boxed very clever.

Although he is no longer actively involved in boxing, Trump still follows the sport avidly. The golden comb over is frequently seen at big fights in the US, although as of January he will have to watch on from the oval office in Washington!

James McHugh