We often list some of the toughest bosses ever in video games, and Mike Tyson’s name comes up every time. For the first 90 seconds of the match, a single punch from him is enough to put Little Mac on the canvas. Now in a TMZ interview, the real Mike Tyson confesses even he never beat his NES version. “Iron Mike” couldn’t get that far.
“I couldn’t even beat f***ing Glass Joe,” Tyson said. “I couldn’t beat Glass Joe, you know what I mean?”
Glass Joe was the first fighter and meant to be ridiculously easy, hence his name. A “glass jaw” is the boxing term for somebody who is really easy to knock out with blows to the head. In case players didn’t pick up on the subtle cues, Nintendo also gave the boxer the back story of being French. In American pop culture, this meant he’d surrender at the first opportunity. The game plays up the stereotype. The Wii update of Punch-Out took it further and made the character obsessed with gourmet coffee and fine fashion.
In real life, Tyson made most of the people he fought look about as tough as Glass Joe. Now that he’s retired from the ring, the former champion has a little more time to devote to video games. He told TMZ he considers himself a “late bloomer” and his favorite game is “Tour of Duty” because he likes the zombies. That makes sense, as both he and the zombies have a taste for human flesh.
He appeared in other boxing games built around his brand, including Mike Tyson Boxing on the PlayStation and Mike Tyson’s Heavyweight Boxing on the PS2. None were anywhere close to how much fun Mike Tyson’s Punch Out was. The boxer’s contract with Nintendo expired, and in later versions Tyson became Mr. Dream. His time in prison for rape assures Nintendo won’t try to make a new connection with him.
EA wasn’t scared off, and added him to its Fight Night series allowing players to finally pit him against Muhammad Ali. In 2012, THQ added him to WWE 13 as a special character. It’s a callback to an actual wrestling storyline that put Tyson in the middle of the war between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Degeneration X.