Mike Tyson Just Found Out About Famous Street Fighter II Character (Probably) Modeled After Him

Mike Tyson Just Found Out About Famous Street Fighter II Character (Probably) Modeled After Him
Credit: N64Mario via YouTube

Street Fighter II was first released way, way, way back in 1991. If it feels like it was almost 30 years ago, that’s because it was almost 30 years ago. But after all these years, Mike Tyson still doesn’t know about the Street Fighter II character Balrog, who looks almost like Tyson’s identical, albeit pixelated, twin.

In an interview with ESPN, the world-famous heavyweight boxer was asked about the Balrog character from the 1991 fighting game. His response? “I have no idea.” Amazing. As most of you already know: It’s now 2019, which means Tyson wasn’t aware of this suspiciously familiar Balrog guy for 28 years.

The story behind the Balrog character is an interesting one. The character we know as ‘Balrog’ was initially called ‘M. Bison’ in the Japanese release of Street Fighter II, where ‘M.’ stands for Mike. But Capcom, the game’s developers, changed the name before its U.S. release.

Fearing legal liability, the company changed M. Bison to Balrog. But the Balrog name wasn’t merely pulled out of a hat, it too originally belonged to another character, one we now know as the cage-fighter Vega. Capcom pulled one big switcheroo with its Street Fighter II names to avoid legal liability.

Buckle up. This next bit gets confusing. M. Bison became known as Balrog, while the character-we-know-as-Vega, who had been named Balrog in the initial Japanese release, became the Vega we refer to today. The final boss of the game (Japanese-release name: Vega) became M. Bison. Problem solved. Only one problem, however: The actual M. Tyson, the non-pixelated lifelike M. Tyson, never even noticed in the first place.

During his ESPN interview, Tyson wondered aloud, “Holy moly! Does he look like me?” Well, we’ll let you be the judge if Balrog does or not. But that gap-tooth really does look oddly familiar to someone we know.

Still. Capcom was right to be better safe than sorry—in fact, Tyson has had encounters with video games in recent memory. In April, Tyson tweeted about being upset that Nintendo had failed to contact him during their development of a brand new Punch-Out!! game. The boxing-centric Punch-Out!! series started with its self-titled arcade game in 1983, one of the first fighting games.

But Punch-Out!! didn’t really get going until a few years later, when M. Tyson came along. The notorious boxer contributed his likeness to the 1987-version Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, which is still available for download on the Nintendo Store. It is often touted as one of the most popular titles in the Punch-Out!! series (and not only by M. Tyson himself).

It should be noted, though, Tyson’s complaints about the apparently upcoming game notwithstanding, Nintendo has not said anything about a new Punch-Out!! game. Where Tyson got his news from, or how accurate it might be, is currently unknown. But at least he finally knows for sure about his suspiciously similar-looking doppelgänger from Street Fighter II.