Bruce Lee vs Mike Tyson – Who Would Win in a Fight?


The question has been asked, would Mike Tyson or Bruce Lee win in a fight, and Mike Tyson has responded, respectfully, that he himself would win because he is the heavier fighter. This has probably outraged many Bruce Lee fans who have no doubt that physical size does not matter.

Clouse, R. (Director). (1973). Enter the Dragon [Film]. Warner Brothers Pictures.
Mke Tyson’s photo by Abelito Roldan

Mike Tyson would win in a match against Bruce Lee. With not only his size behind him, Mike Tyson also has power and speed combined with experience in the ring that would advantage him greatly in a pure hypothetical fight against Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee never had an actual sanctioned competitive fight and his lack of experience in professional fights would disadvantage him in the ring. There is no doubt that Bruce Lee is an incredibly powerful martial artist who set the bar exceedingly high and has been the inspiration of many fighters today, boxing and MMA alike. So why would Mike Tyson win the fight?

Bruce Lee – The Man Behind the Legend in Martial Arts. 

At 5’7″(171cm) tall and 135 lbs(61kg) light, Lee had an exceptional physique, almost as if his body was born specifically for specializing in martial arts. Bruce Lee has been one of, if not the most prominent names in the Martial Arts universe.

Bruce Lee was a legendary master in martial arts, an actor, director, philosopher, and martial arts instructor. He is accepted by many as the greatest martial artist of all time, though mainly for his influence in bringing awareness to the style of martial arts through his dramatized movies and acting career. 

Acting colleagues would go on to say that Lee’s punches were exponentially powerful and punctuated. Lee’s speed and strength in his kung fu abilities would be an advantage over any opponent. 

In an interview with Bruce Lee’s fellow actor and kung fu student, James Coburn said of Bruce Lee:

“His whole life was related to martial arts. He lived, breathed, fought, moved, everything was dedicated to his highest principle of his own self-evolution. He created himself. He demanded of himself, great excellence and was a true artist in that respect.”

James Coburn

Coburn also goes on to say that Bruce had a 700-pound bag hung up and when Lee kicked it, it would double over. Lee’s power is quite obviously an ability he was revered for across the world in martial arts. 

Although Bruce Lee was a master of Kung Fu, he was well ahead of his time and found that kung fu was too restricting for what he wanted to portray on screen. In 1967, at a karate contest that Lee was invited to, he tried to introduce a new concept of contact fighting and he was condemned by many for his forward-thinking views on martial arts. 

Lee defied what he knew and established his own style of fighting called Jeet Kune Do which he trained many actors, athletes, and students throughout his time. He dedicated his life to mastering Jeet Kune Do, which would allow him to bring more awareness to martial arts on the Hollywood screen. 

However, confirmed in Lee’s Biography written by Matthew Polly (2018), Bruce does not have fighting experience in a sanctioned fight. Lee has had few actual fights, and his experience is limited to three recorded fights. 

One of the recorded fights was an interschool boxing tournament in 1968 against Gary Elms. Although Lee won the fight, he disliked the experience and felt the boxing equipment stifled his power. 

Therefore, without doubting Lee’s extremely talented abilities, there is speculation over whether he would win in an actual sanctioned tournament against someone as powerful and fast as Mike Tyson. 

Mike Tyson – The Baddest Man on the Planet

Mike Tyson is one of the best heavyweight fighters of all time. His nicknames include “Iron Mike”, “Kid Dynamite”, and “The baddest man on the planet”. 

With a total of 58 fights, 50 wins, and only 6 losses, Tyson has the experience needed in the boxing ring to win a professional sanctioned boxing match. 

With 44 Knock Outs behind his name, Mike Tyson is not only heavy in muscle, and powerful in strength, but adds speed and agility to his fighting stance through extensive training and coaching that has led him to his fame in the boxing ring today. 

At 178 cm in height and 220lbs (99kg), Tyson has the advantage of being heavier and slightly taller than Lee. Some would, however, argue that this is not an advantage. That’s why it’s crucial to mention that Tyson has the speed to outmatch his opponents as well as the strength. 

According to Thrillist.com who crunched the numbers and worked out how hard and fast Mike Tyson’s punches are, they claim it would be the equivalent of being shot in a bulletproof vest by 13 men with .22’s. Not only strong, but fast, and excruciatingly painful. 

Tyson was not brought up in a friendly neighborhood and was often the target of bullying. This led him to learn how to fight at a young age to defend himself. Unfortunately, Tyson was constantly in trouble with the police, which then turned out to be the beginning of his career in boxing, when he was sent to a reform school to try and better manage his behaviors and criminal acts toward violence. 

Tyson has been in training for boxing since he was 13 years old, has been winning in the ring since he was 18 years old, and has been taught by boxing champions and legends his whole life. Tyson’s experience against formidable opponents is an advantage for Tyson to win a boxing match against Bruce Lee, or any other inexperienced fighter in the ring. 

To add to Mike’s name, he is positioned at number 1 at espn.com for the hardest-hitting boxer in heavyweight history and sky sports has deemed him “the most ferocious fighter to step into a professional ring”. 

That brings us to ask the question, could Lee take the impact of a hit by Mike Tyson?

Does Physical Size Matter in a Fight?

This is one of the more contentious questions in the history and world of fighting. Weight is in fact, deemed a huge advantage by many. From what we can study and determine, size will matter in a fight but will only matter dependent on the ability of each fighter. 

The UFC for example, arranges fights dependent on weight class, rather than height, and age. The weight classes are to match fighters based on their relative size so that there is no way of criticism defining that a winner has won with the advantage of being bigger, and vice versa. The matches are fought in weight class so that opponents are similarly matched in size, and therefore strength. Speed, however, is up to the fighter and their abilities. 

In the case of Mike Tyson vs Bruce Lee, they train and perform in two different styles of fighting. In the real world, this means they would never compete against each other. Mike Tyson is a heavyweight champion who is versed against other heavyweight boxers and who weigh similar to his 220lbs (99kg). Bruce Lee, if he decided to compete, would be a martial artist and at 135lbs (61kg) would be classed as Bantamweight or Featherweight. 

Size can be an advantage as it can give a fighter more power in strength and punches, as well as the ability to possibly absorb, for lack of a better word, strikes from their smaller opponents. 

What Do the Men in Question Have to Say About It?

Bruce Lee had commented about how would he have fared against boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Even though Ali is not Mike Tyson, we can have a better idea as to what Lee himself thought about facing a heavy-weight boxing legend during his time.

In an interview with American Film Director Robert Clouse, he acknowledged that once in conversation with Bruce Lee they were talking about a possible future fight that Lee had been questioned about between Muhammad Ali and himself. Clouse states that Lee’s reaction was to claim he would not win.

“Everybody says I must fight Ali some day.” Bruce said, “I’m studying every move he makes. I’m getting to know how he thinks and moves.” Bruce knew he could never win a fight against Ali. “Look at my hand,” he said. “That’s a little Chinese hand. He’d kill me.”

American Film Director Robert Clouse

Similarly, Mike Tyson has been asked which of them would win in a fight against the other. Mike Tyson has shown the utmost respect for Bruce Lee and called him an inspiration as well as the ultimate warrior in philosophy. Tyson goes on to say that if Lee could really beat him in a fight, “this would be a very interesting world because that should just not happen”

Conclusion

Both men, Tyson and Lee, have been inspirational fighters for present and future generations of martial arts and boxing. In a sanctioned fight between Mike Tyson and Bruce Lee, Tyson’s combined abilities of strength, speed, and size, would give him an overall advantage. Fighters have, of course, proved people wrong before, perhaps Lee could have proved us wrong with his strength, speed, and immense determination. We’ll never know the definite answer but combat sports fans will always discuss this hypothetical matchup for many years to come.

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