Mike Tyson was one of the most ferocious and hardest hitting heavyweight fighters in the history of boxing. While Tyson would have a myriad of problems inside and outside the ring later in his career, he trained rigorously as he climbed the boxing ladder.
Mike Tyson started training for the ring as a teenager. After his mother died when he was 16, Tyson became a student of boxing trainer Cus D'Amato, who had previously trained heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson and many other fighters. He quickly saw Tyson's vast potential and became Tyson's surrogate father. He also put him on a tough training schedule. One of the elements was strength training. Tyson followed a regimen that included 2,000 situps, 500 dips, 500 press-ups and 500 shrugs with a 30-kg barbell. Tyson followed this regimen seven days per week.
Quickness and Endurance Training
Like most fighters, Tyson did his running in the morning before he went to the gym to work on his strength training and boxing skills. He ran three miles on a daily basis to build endurance. However, before he did his long run, he did interval sprints and plyometric box jumping. The interval sprints helped build speed and quickness as well as endurance and the box jumping helped build the power that manifested itself in Tyson's punching.
Tyson separated himself from other boxers with the sparring work that he did while he was preparing for a fight. Most fighters will spar two or three days in the six weeks leading up to a fight. Tyson did double sessions of sparring on an everyday basis. He would spar for 10 rounds at mid-day with a variety of sparring partners and then do 4 to 6 more rounds later in the afternoon. The biggest problem Tyson had as his talent developed was finding enough sparring partners. As he grew more skilled and explosive in the ring, he hurt sparring partners with his punches and many fighters dreaded going in the ring with him.
Many fight fans were mesmerized by Tyson's propensity for delivering knockouts on a consistent basis. They thought he was just naturally gifted and that he could step into the ring and display his power whenever he wanted. Tyson reeled off 37 straight wins to start his career, but beginning with his knockout loss to James "Buster" Douglas in 1990, Tyson stepped back from his rigorous training methods. By failing to push himself in training Tyson showed vulnerability in the ring that opponents like Douglas, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield exploited.
Although he is perhaps better known for his fall from grace than for his performances inside the ring, "Iron" Mike Tyson was one of the most formidable boxing champions in the history of the sport. He combined raw power and athleticism with an unbridled ferocity come fight time, but his techniques and body were refined through countless hours spent training.
Strength and Conditioning
Boxing skills are essential to succeed at the highest levels of the sport, but they won't mean anything if you can't go the distance when needed. Tyson's training routine was split between endurance and explosive strength work. After jogging more than 3 miles in the morning and sparring for 12 rounds in the afternoon, Tyson would perform 2000 sit-ups, 500 dips, 500 press-ups, 500 shrugs and neck exercises.
Cus D'Amato was Mike Tyson's first boxing coach. D'Amato met Tyson when the future champion was a pudgy 13-year-old. D'Amato saw extraordinary talent in Tyson and molded him into a gifted fighter by having him train for 50 to 60 hours per week as a teenager, alternating between bag work and sparring. Tyson became powerful with both hands by honing them on a heavy bag that most young fighters would have avoided.
Perhaps the most important component of training for any competitive boxer is sparring. Mike Tyson would spar 10 to 12 rounds at noon, followed by another six rounds at 3 p.m., six days per week. Trainer D'Amato did not allow him to wear headgear during training, since he felt the protective equipment gave fighters a false sense of security.
Diet and Nutrition
In order for Tyson to avoid breaking his body down throughout a training camp, he had to keep up a regimented diet and nutrition program. Tyson's trainer had him on a steady diet filled with carbohydrates for fuel during training and protein for muscle regeneration. Still, even a disciplined champion like Tyson was caught cheating by eating sugary snacks every now and again.