At the height of his career boxing legend Mike Tyson had made over $300 million dollars, most of which came from his fight purses, some of which came from companies attempting to capitalize on his in-ring dominance through endorsement deals.
With the worldwide popularity of Nintendo's 'Mike Tyson's Punch-Out' you probably would have expected the heavyweight boxer to have made a pretty penny off licensing his likeness to the Japanese video game developer. However, that wasn't the case. This week the New York Post put out a special piece on Punch-Out, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the classic game title. The feature goes on to cover how Tyson's involvement with the game came about, and how much Nintendo paid the boxer to be a part of the project.
The first Nintendo version of the game didn’t include Tyson — Super Macho Man was the final opponent in the limited-edition giveaway — but Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa became so impressed with the Brooklyn native after watching one of his 1986 bouts that Tyson’s likeness was secured for a three-year period, for a reported $50,000.
The bargain deal was signed shortly before Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history, and when the game was then released, the perfect final boss — 31-0 in reality at the time — was in place.
We're going to let the original boss name of 'Super Macho Man' slide for now, but we certainly should discuss Tyson only receiving $50,000 to lend his likeness to Nintendo. Tyson didn't win the WBC Heavyweight Champion of the world until November of 1986, so he likely didn't have a whole lot of leverage in the negotiating process, which likely led to the $50,000 payout.
Still, Tyson was a dominant force in the sport at the time, competing in twelve fights outside of the title fight in 1986, winning all twelve, ten by knockout. That's got to be one of the greatest licensing deals in sports video game history.