Mike Tyson’s Ex-Trainer Jeff Fenech Shares Story Behind Iconic Face Tattoo

by : Lucy Connolly on : 10 Apr 2020 11:30
Mike Tyson's Ex-Trainer Jeff Fenech Shares Story Behind Iconic Face TattooMike Tyson's Ex-Trainer Jeff Fenech Shares Story Behind Iconic Face TattooPA Images

Former world champion boxer and trainer Jeff Fenech has opened up about the day Mike Tyson got his iconic face tattoo, which also happened to be the day he stopped training the heavyweight.


Previously, Tyson claimed he got the Māori-style tattoo simply because he thought it was ‘cool’. Fenech, however, says otherwise. It had less to do with the way the tattoo looked, the trainer claims, and everything to do with Tyson’s headspace at the time he got it.

Not only that, but Tyson allegedly missed a day of training just one week before his now-infamous 2003 fight with Clifford Etienne to get the tattoo, something Fenech apparently couldn’t forgive him for.

mike tysonmike tysonPA Images

Speaking on Fox League Live, as per Fox Sports, Fenech revealed how he was so hurt by Tyson’s actions that he stopped training him there and then – despite the fact he’d put in a solid eight weeks work and only had seven days left until the fight.


After confronting the boxer about his actions, Fenech ‘got on the first flight back to [his] family’ because that was his ‘priority’, adding: ‘I was away from home for eight weeks in Vegas getting him ready for the fight.’

Tyson of course ended up winning the fight, scoring a knockout with a counter-punch after just 49 seconds, with Fenech saying he was ‘happy for Mike that he won’ but ‘upset’ that he wasn’t a part of that win.

But why did Tyson get the tattoo in the first place? Well, according to Fenech, he got it because he didn’t really want to fight.

He explained:

Mike Tyson was a freak at his peak and I think that the only person that ever beat Mike was himself. That day he didn’t turn up to training – and that would happen sometimes with Mike, he would go a bit AWOL – this time he didn’t turn up so I went home and I was staying at Mike’s house in Vegas.

All of a sudden the door opened and I saw his car coming so I straight away went to see what the problem was and what had happened. As I looked at him he had this huge tattoo down the side of his face and I thought ‘wow’…

I thought, we are fighting in a week and when you get a tattoo you can’t fight because they scab up and it wouldn’t be healthy to do that. We sat down and spoke and he didn’t really want to fight and he wasn’t prepared to, and that was one of the reasons he got the tattoo.

After talking to the boxer for a ‘good hour’, Fenech said he left the house ‘in tears’, knowing that he couldn’t train him anymore.


His fight against Etienne proved to be Tyson’s final professional victory in the ring, with the world heavyweight champion retiring from the sport in 2005.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Sport, Boxing, Face Tattoo, Jeff Fenech, Mike Tyson, Tattoos


Fox Sports
  1. Fox Sports

    Jeff Fenech lifts lid on the day Mike Tyson got his face tattoo