Mike Tyson was left speechless when Glenn McCrory turned up for sparring in plimsolls and a string vest

Glenn McCrory caused a bit of a stir when sparring Mike Tyson in the late 1980s.

A mix-up on the flight to America saw him arrive before his luggage and he had to improvise before stepping into the ring with the heavyweight champion of the world.

GettyImages 72606234jpg JS573612069 - Mike Tyson was left speechless when Glenn McCrory turned up for sparring in plimsolls and a string vest
Mike Tyson was just 20 when he became the heavyweight champion of the world in 1986
Screenshot 2020 03 31 at 09.20.18 - Mike Tyson was left speechless when Glenn McCrory turned up for sparring in plimsolls and a string vest
McCrory, right, travelled to America to spar with Tyson ahead of his heavyweight fight with Tyrell Biggs
YouTube

“I had my head guard but no clothes,” McCrory told Tris Dixon on his Boxing Life Stories podcast.

“My dad had given me £20, so I thought I’d better go and get some kit as I couldn’t tell him I can’t spar and I was getting $200 at the end of the week.

“So I went to the Army and Navy store and all I could get was a pair of white plimsolls, white shorts and a string vest.

“And that’s how I turned up to spar with the meanest man on the planet. He was speechless and I could tell he was thinking ‘what have they brought me.’”

It was 1987 and McCrory was the British Commonwealth champion, having beaten Chisanda Mutti, when James ‘Quick’ Tillis phoned to see if he wanted work as a sparring partner for Tyson, who was training for the Tyrell Biggs fight.

Both men were in their early 20s and McCrory recalled a polite Tyson, who was very welcoming and hospitable when he turned up at Trump Plaza – except when they climbed through the ropes.

“He was lethal and knocking people out every day. I never even got the pleasure of knowing their names before they were booted out.”

Tyson’s reputation preceded him and often had men beat before they even touched gloves but McCrory explained that if you could relax and ignore the fear factor, then you could get through it.

If there was a weakness in his game, McCrory couldn’t find it.

“I did okay, though, and you can see it on YouTube,” he said.

“The key was ‘never let him get set, which is what a puncher has to do, so I hit him and moved away, which Tyrell Biggs had done in their amateur encounter.

“It was amazing to be part of that camp, though it was very, very tough.”

So what was socialising like with Tyson, a man known for his love of partying, causal sex and booze?

“It sounds bizarre, but he just wanted to go and play Space Invaders,” McCrory explained. “He was very childlike – until he got in the ring.”


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TALKSPORT Glenn McCrory and Mike Tyson - Mike Tyson was left speechless when Glenn McCrory turned up for sparring in plimsolls and a string vest
McCrory won the IBF world title in 1989 by beating Patrick Lumumba, two years after being picked to be Mike Tyson’s sparring partner

His work in Atlantic City did wonders for McCrory’s career and he even made the sports pages for giving the champ a black eye.

“The best publicity I got was a double page in the New York post” he recalled. “My jab had given Tyson a black eye so he had to take a couple of days off.

“That got me noticed by [promoter] Cedric Kushner and sparring with Tyson gave me the confidence in my ability because I’d lost faith in myself.

“I thought ‘If I can do that with Tyson there’s not a cruiserweight in the world I can’t handle,.”

McCrory defended his Commonwealth belt against Tee Jay in 1988 and later become the IBF cruiserweight world champion when he beat Patrick Lumumba a year later – while still on the dole.

Hear his full story on Boxing Life Stories with Tris Dixon


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