Mike Tyson and Donald Trump have a long history together, dating back 30 years, when Tyson, then at his peak, defended his title several times at Trump’s Atlantic City casino. Trump was sometimes announced to the crowd from the ring; he put down a then-record $11 million deposit to secure the rights for Tyson vs. Michael Spinks in 1988, a bout that culminated with Tyson’s greatest victory—a 91-second wipeout of the then-unbeaten Spinks. When Tyson was convicted of rape in 1992, Trump suggested that he had been "railroaded" and proposed that he remain free to fight and donate his purses to rape charities. That idea didn't go over well. Many years later, after Tyson had turned his life around, Trump gave a rave YouTube endorsement for Tyson’s Broadway show, Undisputed Truth (while also fitting in plugs for his new golf course in Scotland and a new fragrance, Success by Trump, which "captures the spirit of the driven man").
Tyson has returned the favor, surprising those who didn’t know this history by supporting Trump's run for the White House. "He should be president of the United States," Tyson said of Trump in 2015. "Let's run America like a business, where no colors matter. Whoever can do the job, gets the job." Last year, he said of Trump, "When I see him, he shakes my hand and respects my family. . . . If I can get 20,000 people or more to vote for him, I’m gonna do it." (Trump's response: "You know, all the tough guys endorse me. I like that, OK?")
Now Tyson is in the news for an odd bit of repartee with New Jersey governor Chris Christie, in which he urged Christie to remind the president that he had promised Tyson a pardon. Or did Tyson say “partner,” as in business partner? That’s what a Tyson spokesman claims. It sounds to me like he said “pardon,” and also that he meant it in fun, though some won't find it funny. (Trump can't pardon Tyson, anyway, because Tyson's was not a federal crime.)
It’s remarkable to consider that when Tyson and Trump first got together, they were high-flying figures of the 1980s, which seems about 100 years ago. Now one has gone from Gekko-like notoriety to the White House and the other has journeyed from the penitentiary to the New York Public Library. As Don King, whom both Tyson and Trump know well, would say: Only in America.