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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Does Hulu's Mike Tyson Series Mike Glorify Rape Culture?

Russell Hornsby, who portrays Don King, defends the project from critics and even Tyson himself.

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Russell Hornsby and Trevante Rhodes speak at Vulture x Hulu Advanced Screening Of “Mike” at Roxy Hotel on August 24, 2022 in New York City.
Russell Hornsby and Trevante Rhodes speak at Vulture x Hulu Advanced Screening Of “Mike” at Roxy Hotel on August 24, 2022 in New York City.
Photo: Craig Barritt (Getty Images)

Mike, the eight-episode Hulu series based on the life and career of legendary boxer Mike Tyson, premiered yesterday on the streaming giant. It has received mixed reviews, with movie website Rogerebert.com calling it: “fascinating but mostly in an intellectual sense instead of an emotional one and they are often shallow and showy instead of deepening the legacy of Mike Tyson or shifting the public perception of him.”

Many have criticized Mike for glorifying the life of an abuser. Tyson’s former wife, Robin Givens, told Barbara Walters in a 1988 interview that he was emotionally and physically abusive. He denied the allegations, claiming that Givens was going after his credibility. Tyson was also convicted of raping a then 18-year-old Desiree Washington in 1992.

Russell Hornsby, who portrays Don King in the series, believed the show captured Tyson’s complexities correctly. “We did not try to glorify him and we did not try to demonize him,” he explained. “I think what we had intended to do was tell his story.”

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Tyson himself panned the series since he claims Hulu never got permission to tell his life story. “Don’t let Hulu fool you. I don’t support their story about my life,” he wrote on Instagram. “They stole my life story and didn’t pay me. To Hulu executives I’m just a n****r they can sell on the auction block.”

Hornsby wasn’t bothered by this claim. “I think it’s okay for Mike to feel that way. This man has been through a lot. He had a lot of ups and downs and he has a right to feel that way, but I am sure that all will be handled in the future. Mike Tyson is a byproduct of being made in America … for better or worse.”