“He Made Me Cry!”: Actor and former Irish Heavyweight Joe Egan aka The Toughest White Man On The Planet, reveals what it’s like sparring a 17-year-old Mike Tyson | HO

Joe Egan recounts sparring session with ‘ferocious’ 17-year-old Mike Tyson

Former Irish pro boxer Joe Egan has recounted his first sparring session with a 17-year-old Mike Tyson

Egan – who went on to become a successful actor – was invited to stay on training in America to sharpen his boxing skills after an Irish boxing tour in the States.

The Dublin native was brought to a gym where an unknown future-great was waiting for him.

Speaking to Peter McDonagh on The JourneyMan presented by SwitchTV, Egan said: “I went to Gleeson’s gym, I sparred a couple of professional heavyweights, and Bob Jackson and Al Gavin, who owned the gym and they said, ‘you’re alright for a 17-year-old, you’ve got a bit of potential, there is a 17-year-old looking for sparring partner, a guy called Mike Tyson’.

“I never heard of Mike. I didn’t know who it was, but he was knocking men out left right and centre.

“I was just so happy that there was someone 17, the same age as me. I met Mike, and not only was he younger than me, he was shorter than me and he spoke with a bit of a lisp.

“I thought I’m going to batter him. We walked and talked and had food on the night and watched footage of old fights. I’m starting to feel sorry for him because I thought to myself I’m gonna have to battle this kid tomorrow in sparring.”

Having spent the day together, the pair had become quite friendly, and even went jogging together the morning of the sparring session.

Mike Tyson (right) in his boxing heyday versus Frank Bruno (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Egan continued: “As we were ready to head to the gym and as we were getting onto the minibus, all these big powerful men appeared and were walking like they’re going to the gallows.

“As we are in the gym I look around and Mike is in the ring pacing. And I’m looking at this guy and I’m thinking that’s not the same boy I met yesterday or went jogging with this morning. He just looked ferocious.

“The first guy got in and Mike knocked him spark out, and I’m not ashamed to say I ruined a good pair of underpants at that moment.

“I was number four and I got in and got battered from pillar to post but stayed on my feet for three minutes.

“I went two rounds with him that day, every fighter dreams of being champion of the world but I wasn’t good enough, but I shared the ring with one of the greatest champions of my era.

“At the end of the sparring, Mike Tyson said that, ‘Joe Egan is the toughest white guy on the planet’. I was far from it. I was the toughest white guy in the gym that day

“If you’re going to get bashed, you might as well get bashed by the best and I got bashed by the best.”