Who is Mitch Green?
The legendary Mitch “Blood” Green gave Mike Tyson the hardest fight of his early career. Two years later, Tyson nearly killed the former gang leader in a New York street fight while Green was on a high level of PCP.
One of the most exciting legacies not just in boxing, but in all of professional sports,
Green’s cross between combat and criminal activity is one of the most interesting legacies of not just boxing, but all of professional sports, yet many people are still unfamiliar with him and his story.
This is the story of Mitch Green: the notorious mobster who went toe-to-toe with “Iron” Mike Tyson in the ring and on the street.
Early gang life
Mitch Green was born in Augusta, Georgia, in 1957 but eventually moved to Queens, New York. He fell into a life of crime as a teenager and later joined a gang called “The Bloods”, which has an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 members in the United States.
The Bloods began in Los Angeles, California as an alternative and competitor to “Crips”. The Bloods were easy to point out by their bright red clothing, while the Crips wore shades of blue.
Within the blood are smaller factions, known as groups. Each group has its own leaders and ways of working, as well as unique verbiage, definition, and characteristics.
He quickly gained respect on the street for his actions involving weapons, drugs, and violence
Greene, who grew to a massive 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, quickly gained respect on the street for his actions involving guns, drugs, violence, and leadership as a member of The Black Spades, a notorious ruthless gang. members later used it as a stepping stone to joining the Bloods.
While still a teenager he took over as the leader of his local group. He later went so far as to call himself the “King of New York Street Gangs” and took on the nickname “Blood” for fairly obvious reasons.
Rise to power
Green, now 66, claims to have been shot three times in his life. He said the third man he shot had never left before, as he put it, “I knocked him over [expletive] Outside.”
He has a rap sheet that he says is longer than he can remember and uses it to rob gas stations regularly. If he showed up too early in the day and there wasn’t enough money in the register, he would tie up the attendants, hide them inside the building and then pretend to work the register and pocket customers’ money. He would even go out to pump gas for the visitors, according to Tyson Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson Podcast.
His natural toughness allowed him to survive the depths of battle
But while Green was building his case as one of the most feared people walking the streets of New York, he was also amassing an impressive resume as a boxer. His massive frame and natural strength made him a nightmare in the heavyweight division, and his natural toughness allowed him to survive the depths of fights.
Green also fought with the intention of hurting opponents and was willing to take his share of the punishment if it meant he could get to them.
In 1986, Green (16-1-1) placed one place ahead of an up-and-coming, unorthodox fighter named Mike Tyson (20-0-0) in the WBC heavyweight standings. Green called up Tyson several times and filmed clips of himself training and talking to his teammate in New York. Several of those clips have even made their way to HBO.
Four days after Tyson defeated James “Quick” Tillis to advance to 20-0 as a pro, a fight with Green was announced. This decision set off a chain reaction of one of the most memorable moments in boxing history.
Feud with Mike Tyson
Although Tyson defeated Tillis, this was the first time he had not knocked out his opponent. That was a beacon of hope for the rest of the heavyweight divisions.
Despite being only 19 years old and ranking below Green, Tyson earned a whopping $250,000 to $30,000 from Green for his fight at Madison Square Garden. The older, more established fighter repeatedly denounced the pay split and threatened to pull out of the fight the day before the scheduled date, though he was persuaded to continue after discovering a shot at the WBC heavyweight title was hanging in the balance.
The fight went as many expected. Tyson’s “peek-a-boo” fighting style—staying low and blasting upward with deadly attacks—couldn’t be contained by the taller Green, who didn’t have a great defensive system. Green landed power shots and effectively clinched Tyson to limit his power shots, but was clearly trailing throughout the fight.
The match ended up going to the scorecards, with Tyson picking up a unanimous decision victory.
Green never fully agreed with the decision and kept insisting he was a better fighter than Tyson, but was distracted by the unequal pay structure. These comments then evolved into personal insults over the coming years as Tyson rose to worldwide stardom.
On August 23, 1988, Tyson and his friends were shopping at a clothing store called Dapper Dan’s in Harlem at 4 am, having already spent the night drinking at a nightclub. Green, who was well connected in the area, heard that his longtime opponent was nearby and headed straight for the shop. He demanded a rematch upon his appearance and then asked Tyson to fight him on the outside.
What happened abroad is not fully confirmed. There are only accounts from Tyson, Green, and close witnesses.
Green was allegedly high in PCP and impervious to a hit
Green allegedly threw a punch at Tyson, who countered with one of his own and caught Green’s flush. Green was allegedly high PCP and was impervious to a hit and kept going, a full fight ensued.
“I left him a few times, but he was soaked in angel dust, so he just kept getting up,” Tyson said. Hotboxin’. “Just like Friday the 13th, Michael Myers, that guy. Boom! I hit him cold, he’s up again.”
Tyson was ready to leave, but Green got up and broke his Rolls-Royce mirror, so Tyson sat him down again until Green’s head hit the concrete and he passed out.
Tyson fled the scene, believing he had killed him. He was relieved to find that Green had survived, but his eye was swollen and he needed stitches in his nose.
Green remembers the encounter very differently. He says Tyson punched him and then ran away before he could react.
“Mike Tyson hit me and ran like a sissy,” Green said in a 1988 interview confirming he was making accusations against Tyson. “I want a rematch. Enough name calling. All I want is for Mike Tyson to accept the challenge.”
That match never came again. Tyson went on to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world with a career record of 50 wins (44 KOs), six losses, and two no contests. Green fought for 24 years (and until he was 48) and went 19-6-1 with 12 KOs.
Green climbed to No. 7 in the WBC rankings, but did not get a world heavyweight title shot, instead making headlines due to his falling out with promoter Don King, the father of his first trainer, Carl King.
He refused to throw any punches until the referee stopped the fight in the third round
In 1993, after legal issues forced a long absence from the ring, he returned to fight Bruce Johnson. Green spent most of the time complaining about his bag and his manager and refused to throw any punches until the referee stopped the fight in the third round.
His feud with his manager continued into 1996 when he pointed a gun in his direction, resulting in a fight against future World Heavyweight Champion Shannon Briggs being called off. Green won the New York State Heavyweight title in 1998 against Mike Dixon, but his victory was later reversed to a “no contest” after he tested positive for marijuana.
Mitch Green has one of the most memorable stories in sports history. The boss of one of the most feared gangs in the world who pulled the trigger on the toughest man alive and then dragged him out into the street at 4am? Hollywood couldn’t write that.