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How Long Was Mike Tyson in Prison?

Mike Tyson is one of the most controversial and well-known figures in boxing history. He had an incredibly successful yet turbulent career, full of extreme highs and lows, both in and out of the ring. One of the lowest points of Tyson’s life was when he was convicted and sent to prison for rape in 1992.

Tyson served three years in prison before being released in 1995. His time behind bars marked a major turning point in his life and career. Let’s take a close look at the crimes that landed “Iron Mike” in prison and exactly how long he was incarcerated.

Timeline of Mike Tyson’s Crimes & Prison Sentence

Here is a timeline outlining the key dates related to the crimes, trial, conviction and imprisonment of Mike Tyson:

Date Event
July 19, 1991 Mike Tyson rapes 18-year-old Desiree Washington, Miss Black Rhode Island, in an Indianapolis hotel room.
September 9, 1991 Tyson is indicted on charges of rape, criminal deviate conduct and confinement.
February 10, 1992 Tyson goes on trial for the rape charges.
February 26, 1992 Tyson is convicted of rape and two counts of deviate sexual conduct.
March 26, 1992 Tyson is sentenced to 6 years in prison, with 4 years suspended.
March 27, 1992 After spending one night in the Indiana Youth Center, Tyson is transferred to the Indiana Department of Corrections Diagnostic Center.
May 21, 1992 Tyson is classified as an inmate at the Indiana Youth Center in Plainfield.
March 25, 1995 Tyson is released from prison after serving 3 years of his 6-year sentence.

As shown in the timeline, Mike Tyson served just over 3 years in prison from 1992 to 1995. He was sentenced to 6 years but only ended up serving about half of that time.

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Next, let’s take a closer look at how Tyson’s rape conviction and imprisonment impacted his boxing career.

Effect on Tyson’s Boxing Career

Mike Tyson was the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history, winning his first title at just 20 years old in 1986. By the early 1990s, he was undisputed world champion and considered one of the most feared boxers ever.

However, Tyson’s conviction and prison time marked the beginning of his decline as a boxer:

  • Tyson was convicted just days before he was set to fight heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield in a hugely anticipated bout. The rape charges forced cancellation of this mega-fight.
  • Tyson was forced to give up his heavyweight championships while in prison.
  • After being released from prison in 1995, Tyson resumed boxing but was never again as dominant as he was in the late 1980s.
  • Tyson lost to Holyfield in 1996 and 1997 in two of the biggest fights of his comeback.
  • His boxing career flamed out by the early 2000s after several years of erratic behavior, losses, and lackluster performances.

It’s clear that the 3 years Tyson spent in prison took away what likely would have been his prime years in boxing. The rape conviction dashed his aura of invincibility and markedly changed the trajectory of his career.

Where Was Mike Tyson Imprisoned?

Mike Tyson served his sentence in the Indiana Department of Corrections system. Here is a summary of the facilities where he was incarcerated:

  • Indiana Youth Center, Plainfield: This was the facility where Tyson spent the majority of his sentence, from 1992 to 1995. It is a medium security prison.
  • Indiana Department of Corrections Diagnostic Center: Tyson spent a brief period here in March 1992 right after his sentencing before being transferred to the Indiana Youth Center. This facility processes and evaluates new inmates.
  • Indiana Reformatory, Pendleton: Tyson spent one day in this maximum security prison in March 1992 before being sent to the Diagnostic Center.

So while Tyson served time in 3 different Indiana prisons, the Indiana Youth Center was where he carried out the large majority of his 3-year sentence.

What Was Mike Tyson Convicted Of?

Mike Tyson was convicted of the following crimes in 1992:

  • Rape: This was the most serious charge that Tyson was found guilty of. He was convicted of raping 18-year-old Desiree Washington, a contestant in the Miss Black America pageant, in 1991.
  • Two counts of criminal deviate conduct: This charge related to Tyson engaging in non-consensual acts with Washington during the rape.
  • Confinement: Tyson was also convicted of unlawfully confining Washington during the incident.
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Tyson has always maintained his innocence in this case. He continues to deny raping Desiree Washington to this day. However, after nearly two weeks of testimony, the jury deliberated for just 10 hours before finding Tyson guilty of all charges in 1992.

What Was Prison Life Like for Mike Tyson?

By most accounts, Mike Tyson had a relatively easy time in prison compared to most inmates:

  • Special privileges: Tyson reportedly got special privileges from guards due to his celebrity status, including a single cell larger than normal.
  • Plenty of food: Tyson remained in fighting shape while incarcerated, exercising daily and consuming large amounts of food. He has since claimed he gained over 100 pounds while in prison.
  • No problems with other inmates: Some thought Tyson may run into trouble with other prisoners trying to make a name for themselves. But he managed to avoid any confrontations or fights behind bars.
  • Lots of visitors: Tyson got regular visits from friends, family members, associates, and even celebrities. Promoter Don King visited frequently, laying the plans for Tyson’s boxing comeback.

So while prison life was certainly not fun or easy, accounts indicate Tyson did not have an exceptionally hard or harsh time during his sentence. He seemed to adjust better than many expected.

FAQs About Mike Tyson’s Prison Sentence

What was Mike Tyson originally sentenced to?

Mike Tyson was originally sentenced to 6 years in prison, with 4 of those years suspended. This means he would have to serve only a third of the sentence as long as he stayed out of trouble after being released.

Why did Mike Tyson serve less than 3 years if he was sentenced to 6 years?

It was common in Indiana for inmates like Tyson to be released early for good behavior after serving just half of their sentence. So by getting released in March 1995, Tyson had served around 3 years of his original 6-year sentence.

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Did Mike Tyson have to register as a sex offender?

No. Mike Tyson does not have to register as a sex offender, despite being convicted of rape. Sex offender registries did not exist in Indiana when Tyson was tried and convicted in 1992. Such registries were not common until later in the decade.

Could Mike Tyson have resumed boxing while in prison?

No. Inmates are strictly prohibited from participating in boxing matches or contact sports while incarcerated. Tyson was only able to exercise and work out internally while imprisoned.

How much money did Mike Tyson make in his first fight after leaving prison?

Mike Tyson was guaranteed $25 million for his first fight after leaving prison, a November 1995 bout against Peter McNeeley. Tyson had previously made around $15 to $30 million per fight at his peak before the rape conviction.


Mike Tyson’s rape conviction and subsequent imprisonment marked a turning point that altered the course of his legendary boxing career. He served just over 3 years of a 6-year sentence in Indiana prisons from 1992 to 1995.

While prison took Tyson out of boxing during what were likely his prime years, he did not seem to have an exceedingly difficult time behind bars. He kept himself in shape, avoided trouble, and got frequent visits.

However, when Tyson was released, he was not the same feared and dominant fighter he had been earlier in his career. The time away from boxing was too much to overcome. Within a few years of his comeback, Tyson’s skills, record and reputation went into a steady decline.

Mike Tyson obviously wishes he had never gone to prison. But the rape conviction he still disputes and his years behind bars remain an indelible part of his complicated legacy in the boxing world. Tyson’s time incarcerated marked the beginning of the end of his journey to becoming the youngest and most intimidating heavyweight champion ever.

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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