In 1991, Street Fighter II was released. Now in 2019, Mike Tyson just heard about Balrog for the very first time.
As EventHubs points out, EPSN asked the former heavyweight champ if he knew the story about the character. Tyson replied, “No, I have no idea.” ESPN’s Arda Ocal explained how the boxer character Balrog was originally called “M. Bison” in Japan, with the initial being short for “Mike.”
Apparently, Capcom was concerned about legal liability, and the character’s name was changed to Balrog. In the original Japanese version of Street Fighter II, the cage-fighter character now known as Vega was called Balrog and the last-boss character M. Bison was called Vega. Capcom switched all their names around as it mitigated possible Mike Tyson legal exposure.
When ESPN showed Tyson the Street Fighter II pugilist, he replied, “Holy moly. Does he look like me?”
In the clip, which can be seen below, Tyson mentioned something about a “serious lawsuit.” It’s unclear if that’s a reference to his unhappiness with Punch-Out!
After Ocal explained the story to Tyson, he asked him if he had seen the character before. “Never in a million years,” the former fighter said, adding, “I’m really honored with that impersonation of me.”
— Hotboxin' with Mike Tyson (@hotboxinpodcast) April 5, 2019
Tyson had heard about M. Bison on his podcast in April, then calling the game’s creators “dirty motherfuckers” and “jackasses.”