25 Years Ago Today, Mike Tyson Falls & President Nelson Mandela Rises

Two historical figures. One instilled fear in the heart of hearts of his opponents in the boxing ring. The other instilled hope and passion for a new beginning for an entire nation. These men, “Iron Mike Tyson” and Nelson Mandela were very much in the daily conversation 25 years ago today (February 11, 1990).

It’s been a quarter of a century to the date since the world was shocked by two events that coincidentally took place on the same day. On this day in 1990, Buster Douglas began the end of the reign of Mike Tyson as the juggernaut and predator of the Heavyweight Division class of professional boxing, and Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years of an unjust incarceration in South Africa. Both events had an impact on the world as a whole, but in vastly different ways.

The Shadow League commemorated both events that requires the attention of any and everyone that has knowledge of both figures that have made their individual marks on history.


Mike Tyson reigned supreme as the undisputed heavyweight champion of boxing. The reputation he earned for seeing through his opponents before each fight to project his dominance before the first bell even rang is legendary. Starting in 1986 when he defeated then heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick, he ascended to the highest of heights destroying his opponents at break neck speed; 12 of which TKO’d in the first round and before his first loss an unblemished 37-0 record. With that said, no one saw on the radar an unknown heavyweight, ranked 7th in the world, out of Columbus, Ohio by the name of “Buster” Douglas. What was assumed to be a fight that wouldn’t get beyond 3 rounds, turned into one of the greatest upsets in modern sports history. Tyson couldn’t find a means to defend Douglas’ reach, and the jabs that constantly stymied him. In the 10th round of that fight, Douglas caught Tyson with a vicious uppercut that caught him off guard and rocked him completely pushing his wig back. Douglas seeing that Tyson was teetering initiated a relentless assault of hooks that sent him to the canvas. Tyson clearly dazed, spent his time trying to find a way to get his mouthpiece back in his mouth, and by the time he finally got it in, Octavio Meyran who reffed the fight finished his 10 count and ended an era in boxing. The sports world exploded with the news from Tokyo, Japan that “Iron” Mike Tyson was not only defeated, but he was TKO’d by what many (to this day) viewed as an unknown. Mike Tyson wasn’t prepared for that defeat, the boxing world wasn’t prepared for that defeat, nor was the world prepared to see him defeated.

Earlier that same day, another piece of history unfolded, and unlike the fallout from Tyson losing, this event had been highly anticipated for a very long time. After serving a 27-year prison sentence in a South African cell for standing up to and against the oppression of Black South Africans in his youth, Nelson Mandela who had a following of people worldwide and at home was freed from prison. Mandela’s name is synonymous with terms like “keeper of the peace,” and “the bridge builder” referencing his actions after winning the South African presidency in 1994. He united the South African nation as a whole by working with the very government that wrongfully imprisoned him. There were many white South Africans from Johannesburg through the Transvaal that feared with the nation’s first elected president of color there would be reprisals against whites. Instead, Mandela moved the nation forward by not looking back to avenge wrongs that were done to black South Africans.

Read The Shadow League’s 25 Years Ago Today, Buster Douglas Shocked The World for more on the fall of Mike Tyson and the beginning of the fall of apartheid in South Africa with the release of Nelson Mandela.

Related: Madonna & Nas Unveil Their Collaboration About Coming Up In The Big Apple (Audio)