Boxing legend Mike Tyson is labeling Hulu as “the streaming version of the slave master” after allegedly stealing his life story for profit without compensating him.
In a series of statements posted on his social media accounts Saturday, Tyson reiterated that he doesn’t support Hulu’s upcoming limited series chronicling his life inside and outside of the ring. “Mike” premieres on August 25.
“Don’t let Hulu fool you. I don’t support their story about my life,” Tyson, 56, wrote in a statement posted on Instagram. “It’s not 1822. It’s 2022. They stole my life story and didn’t pay me. To Hulu executives I’m just a [N-word] they can sell on the auction block.”
The former undisputed world heavyweight champion continued to air his grievance on Twitter. I have called Hulu’s series a “slave master take over story about my life,” adding the hashtag “#slaveryisdead” in another tweet.
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This is not the first time Tyson has spoken out against “Mike.” After Hulu first ordered the limited series in February 2021, Tyson punched back against the project.
“Hulu’s announcement to do an unauthorized mini-series of the Tyson story without compensation, although unfortunate, isn’t surprising,” Tyson said at the time. “This announcement on the heels of social disparities in our country is a prime example of how Hulu’s corporate greed led to this tone-deaf cultural misappropriation of the Tyson life story.”
He continued: “To make this announcement during Black History Month only confirms Hulu’s concern for dollars over respect for Black story rights. Hollywood needs to be more sensitive to Black experiences especially after all that has transpired in 2020.”
In March 2021, Tyson announced his own “authorized story” was in the works starring Jamie Foxx as himself. Filmmaker Martin Scorsese and Foxx are also among the producers. “I have been looking to tell my story for quite some time,” he said.
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According to Hulu, “Mike,” an 8-episode limited series, “explores the tumultuous ups and downs of Tyson’s boxing career and personal life – from being a beloved global athlete to a pariah and back again.… ‘Mike’ is an unauthorized and no-holds-barred look at the life of Mike Tyson – and it is one wild ride.” Trevante Rhodes will star as Tyson.
Executive producers Steven Rogers and Karin Gist addressed Tyson’s criticism at the Television Critics Association earlier this week.
“We actually couldn’t talk to him because his life rights were already taken, so that was never on the table. I would hope that if he watches it that he would change his opinion,” Rogers told reporters on Thursday, according to Entertainment Tonight. “For me, as a writer, as a storyteller, I don’t really like to be reliant on just one source. I really like to do the research and get all these different opinions and then put a story around all of that. I don’t like to be holden to just one person.”
Gist added: “That was our intention as well, to tell the story so that we’re talking about more than just the events in his life, but rather placing the story and giving it context in the world and at the time. We really wanted to make sure we were as broad as possible in the research and the dramatization of the events of his life and we could make sure we were opening the doors to other conversations to be had around those things as well.”
Tyson responded through his representative Thursday in a statement to Entertainment Tonight: “My life rights option expired years ago. Hulu nor any of their supercilious team ever tried to engage in any negotiations with this Black man. …
“They say this story is an exploration of a Black man. It’s more like an exploitation of a Black man. Hulu thinks their tracks are covered by hiring Black sacrificial lambs to play the part as front men for their backdoor robbery is appalling. I will always remember this blatant disregard of my dignity.”
USA TODAY Sports reached out to Hulu for comment.
Contributing: The Associated Press