- It’s not true that Mike Tyson supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- The images of the boxer, in which he wears a uniform with the inscription “Russia”, are from 2005 and have no relation to current events.
Photos of the world-famous American boxer Mike Tyson, in which he is wearing a sweatshirt with the inscription “Russia”, are actively spreading among Bulgarian users on Facebook. The images are accompanied by a long text presented as Mike Tyson’s quote in support of Russia and the war in Ukraine.
The most popular of these posts is from January 2023 and has over 6,800 interactions (likes and shares).
From the reader’s signal of Martin Ivanov to the editor’s mail of Factcheck.bg, it is clear that the photos are shared with identical text in online media as well.
The widely shared photos of Mike Tyson are not up-to-date as our verification through the WeVerify platform showed. The images are from September 2005, when the boxer was on tour in Russia and Ukraine and attended a party for the presentation of the new uniforms of the Russian Olympic athletes.
Other photos from the same day and event can be found in the archive of stock image websites.
Mike Tyson’s visit to Russia and Ukraine in 2005 was sponsored by a Ukrainian vodka company that was interested in the boxer becoming its ambassador. Tyson describes this visit in detail in his autobiographical book, Undisputed Truth.
There is no evidence for the authenticity of the quote attributed to Tyson in the Facebook posts. Factcheck.bg’s verification failed to find confirmation that the words were really said by the boxer.
The personality of Mike Tyson has been used more than once by the Russian media for propaganda purposes. In 2014, the year Russia illegally annexed the Crimea, the Russian media reported that Mike Tyson was about to become a member of the Union of Writers of the Russian Federation. However, the initiative for this membership was on the part of Russia.
In 2015, the boxer’s personality again came into the focus of the Russian media with headlines suggesting that Tyson was about to “live and work” in Russia. In fact, there was a planned shooting of a biographical film about the athlete, one part of which would have taken place on the territory of Russia. During this period, the boxer was believed to be living in Russia.
It appears that this project never came to fruition. The only existing films based on Tyson’s life and career to date are from 1995 and 2008.
Now the persona of Mike Tyson is again being used for the purposes of Russian propaganda, this time in the context of the war in Ukraine.
In his public appearances since February 2022, Tyson has never stated that he supports Russia or its invasion of Ukraine – quite the opposite:
In June 2022, a video appeared in which the boxer declared his support for the Ukrainian people in the war against Russia.
The claim that Mike Tyson supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not true. The boxer visited Russia and Ukraine in 2005, during which he wore a sports uniform with the inscription “Russia”. However, this has nothing to do with current events and the war in Ukraine.
Translated by Vanessa Nikolova