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Mike Tyson Always Wore Black Trunks and Shoes, Right? Wrong!

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My friend Jason and I went to a local bar recently to watch one of the NFL playoff games. One of the adjacent TV screens was showing highlights from early in Mike Tyson’s career, and we were surprised to see how often Tyson was wearing something other than his usual “uniform” of black trunks and black shoes — a signature style as strong as any in sports history.

I decided to look up Tyson’s early fights and was surprised to discover that he didn’t begin wearing black trunks and black shoes until his 20th professional fight. Here’s what he wore in the first 19 (apologies in advance for some of the screen shots being blurry):

1. Tyson vs. Hector Mercedes

For his professional debut, Tyson wears Adidas trunks with a red waistband and three red stripes, along with blue Adidas shoes. But two elements of his signature look are already in place: His trunks are short, and he has no visible socks.

2. Tyson vs. Trent Singleton

Same combo as in the previous fight.

3. Tyson vs. Don Halpin

New trunks: white, with a big, black “Adidas” on the waistband and black stripes down the side. The blue shoes remain unchanged.

4. Tyson vs. Ricardo Spain

Same trunks as in the previous fight, but the blue shoes are replaced with grey boots that are folded down at the shin.

5. Tyson vs. John Alderson

The red-trimmed Adidas trunks and blue shoes — the combo from Tyson’s first two fights — returns.

6. Tyson vs. Larry Sims

There is no video of this fight, nor is there any color photography that I could find. But this appears to be same combo from fight No. 3 — white Adidas trunks with black trim, blue shoes.

7. Tyson vs. Lorenzo Canady

Once again, Tyson wears the white Adidas trunks with black trim. I believe the grey boots are the same ones from fight No. 4, but not folded down this time.

8. Tyson vs. Michael Johnson


Same combo as in the previous fight.

One thing that’s striking throughout all of these shots is how all of Tyson’s opponents are wearing over-the-calf socks — something rarely seen in boxing these days.

9. Tyson vs. Donnie Long

The same combo as in fight No. 7.

10. Tyson vs. Robert Colay

For the first time, Tyson wears non-white trunks. Although it’s hard to tell, they’re actually dark blue. The shoes are the folded-down grey boots.

11. Tyson vs. Sterling Benjamin

Same combo as in the previous fight.

12. Tyson vs. Eddie Richardson

Same combo as in the previous two fights. Very unusual that both men wore dark trunks.

13. Tyson vs. Conroy Nelson

Here’s a combo we haven’t seen before: the white trunks with the red trim, paired with the folded-down grey boots.

14. Tyson vs. Sammy Scaff

The first appearance of black trunks! No black shoes yet, though — he’s back to the blue footwear.

15. Tyson vs. Mark Young

Similar to the previous fight, but this time the black trunks have the Everlast logo on the waistband.

16. Tyson vs. Dave Jaco

Blue trunks and blue shoes! Meanwhile, look at those striped socks being worn by Jaco.

17. Tyson vs. Mike Jameson


Same combo as in fight No. 15.

18. Tyson vs. Jesse Ferguson

A new combo: the black Everlast trunks with the grey footwear.

19. Tyson vs. Steve Zouski

Back to the red-trimmed white shorts and the blue shoes — the same combo from his first two pro fights.

20. Tyson vs. James “Quick” Tillis

For the first time, we see what will become Tyson’s visual calling card: black trunks and black shoes. While I didn’t check every single one of his remaining fights, I believe this is what he wore for the rest of his career.

Now here’s the most amazing thing about all of this: Those first 20 fights that I just chronicled took place in a span of just 14 months! Fight No. 1 was on March 6, 1985, and fight No. 20 was on May 3, 1986. I knew Tyson’s early fight schedule was brisk (his management supposedly wanted to keep him busy in order to keep him out of trouble), but I didn’t realize it was that brisk. So while you could say, “It took him a long time — 20 fights — before his signature look became established,” you could also say, “It didn’t take long at all — barely a year — before his signature look became established.”

Anyway: I had fun compiling all of this and hope you enjoyed reading it. And remember, this post was based on something I noticed at a bar while watching an NFL playoff game. Just goes to show that I’m always uni-watching!



Super Bowl Preview Reminder

In case you missed it on Wednesday, my Substack article this week is my annual (and final!) Uni Watch Super Bowl Preview. As usual, it features a slew of deep-cut uni-related storylines and subplots on this year’s big game, plus the annual slate of even deeper-cut Super Bowl uni data from Supe savant Jay Braiman. Clocking in at nearly 3,000 words, it has all the info you need to impress (or just annoy) your friends while watching the game on Sunday.

You can read the first part of the article here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paid subscriber to my Substack (which will also get you full access to my Substack archives). My thanks, as always, for your consideration and support!



Raffle-O-Rama, Day 5

We complete our week of daily raffles with a prize package generously donated by reader Chris Hickey: a 25th-anniversary patch and two winged stirrup magnets. These are my very last magnets, as all remaining stock is now sold out.

This will be a one-day raffle. No entry restrictions. To enter, send an email with your mailing address to the raffle in-box by 9pm Eastern tonight. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Monday.

As for yesterday’s raffle, our winner is Michael Rich, who’s won himself a 25th-anniversary patch. Congrats to him, and to Bob Andrews for sponsoring that one (and the previous three raffles this week). Thanks also to Chris for sponsoring today’s raffle! We all owe a big debt of gratitude to this generous members of our comm-uni-ty.




Can of the Day

That one diagonal stroke really elevates things to a different level, doesn’t it? The red cap is a nice touch, too.

Comments (14)

    Mike Tyson was the Gen X version of Ali-larger than life and completely indestructible. One of the few “I remember when” sports memories I have was watching the Buster Douglas KO live. My friends and I were just stunned silent; we couldn’t believe what we had just seen.

    First, this is fantastic. I remember watching Tyson’s early fights as a kid, as my dad loved watching boxing. I didn’t even revel how aesthetically diverse he was!

    Second, the reason he could fight so often is because he finished so early. From his fourth to sixteenth fight, he only left the first round once. He only really fought the equivalent of two full eight round fights in that span. Just incredible compared to modern boxing, where six fights in a year would be a lot.

    Tremendous post!

    I’m actually a few months older than Tyson, and I watched many of his fights in the 85/86 (I think they were pretty much all on HBO then). Besides Doc Gooden (who is about a year older), I couldn’t believe guys “my age” were doing what they were. I even recall going to a bar with my pop (under age!) to watch a couple of his fights, which were over in less than a round. I’ll never forget his destruction of Michael Spinks a couple years after that, and of course the loss to Buster (which he should have won, had it not been for a long count). His resulting decline and attempted comebacks were fascinating.

    Tyson was never the same after Cus D’Amato passed.

    But in all of that, I always *thought* Tyson wore black trunks and black high tops without socks (as became his *signature* look). Thanks for the great retrospective!

    That the actual fight(s) make up a fraction of the video length(s)…Tyson was a force of nature. The look in the opponents’ eyes when they knew it was over…

    Today was the first time I ever thought about boxer’s footwear. That would be an interesting U-W deep dive, I bet. Jaco’s socks are tremendous.

    Very refreshing when UW deviates from the Big 4 in such a big way…nice work, Paul!
    Oh, the money I wasted on Tyson PPV bouts BITD!

    Kind of forget now, but man back in the 70s & 80s boxing was huge. Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Mancini, Spinks, Duran, etc. Then Tyson came along just KO everybody in the first minute or two. Championship fights were must see TV in my youth, but I haven’t watched any in many years.

    Championship fights were must see TV in my youth, but I haven’t watched any in many years.

    That’s because the whole sport moved to PPV. Promoters figured out they could make more money from a smaller audience.

    Was there ever a more intimidating look in sports? I also thought his ring entrances for most of his career (no real fanfare, no satin robes, just sparse, all-business) were so cool.

    first bouts against tomato cans and past their primes (when mike was kid dynamite) then once he became iron mike, started the black trunk/shoe era. no robe (just a towel) too. mike was all business in the ring.

    I noticed for all but one of those 20 fights he wore red gloves. Number 4 was the exception when he donned black ones.

    Echoing what others have been saying, I too miss watching boxing. Used to be one knew who the current heavyweight champion was. Unfortunately I can’t even name any current boxer. Nowadays we get the abomination that is UFC.

    That Tyson/Scaff fight should have never happened. Tyson was 13-0 and had rolled to that mark. Scaff was 13-6 but had lost four of his previous seven fights, with the wins coming against a guy who was 1-10 and a pair of guys fighting their second pro bout. In less than two minutes, Tyson rearranged Scaff’s face. Dude didn’t belong in the same ZIP code.

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