Before he was a convicted felon, before he chomped off Evander Holyfield’s earlobe, and before he promised the press he would consume an opponent’s children (presumably with a nice Chianti), Mike Tyson was congenial enough to be welcomed into the world of Nintendo. The publisher’s first licensed athlete was an obvious choice in 1987: Tyson was an imposing, unstoppable force inside the ring, displaying a devastating combination of power and speed. It was never a question if Tyson would knock out his opponent, just how quickly it would occur. Nintendo signed the speech-challenged heavyweight to endorse its first NES boxing game, the home version of the Punch-Out!! arcade series.
The rare endorsement was prominently featured in a commercial, with Tyson sitting in a dark room before a wall filled with television sets. The camera was positioned behind the seated Tyson, with the boxer aggressively swaying from side to side as if desperately in need of a bathroom break. As Iron Mike rocked in his chair, action shots of the game’s characters appeared on the wall of screens. Tyson concluded his fidgeting by spinning the chair around to face the viewer, revealing a rather sinister looking grin. “Now you’re playing with power,” the announcer said, as a low-pitched laugh bellowed out, ostensibly from the normally squeaky-voiced Tyson.
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