Mike Tyson: Punches, Prison and Pygmalion Effect
This case study was written to analyse the effect and limitations of Pygmalion effect. It shall prove useful for understanding the power of reinforcement and motivation in the Organizational Behavior Course. Mike Tyson’s (Tyson) life had been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. His surreal rise to fame and success was complimented by an equally stunning fall from glory amidst a string of personal and professional controversies. A tough and troubled upbringing in one of the poorest neighbourhood in Brooklyn coupled with frequent stints across various detention centres was what Tyson had for a childhood. However, under Cus D’Amato’s (D’Amato) guidance and tutelage, Tyson re-discovered himself. Over the years he emerged as the youngest heavyweight champion ever, marking the beginning of an immensely successful and envious career. But this success was neither long-lived nor free of its share of controversies. Tyson’s blatant disregard for self-control and his aggressive behavior further added to his fast mounting troubles. Could Tyson attain such dizzying levels of success without his coach and mentor Cus D’Amato? What effect did Pygmalion effect have on Tyson? Why couldn’t it be sustained in the long-run? What kind of behavior, professional and personal, is expected from sporting personalities pursuing ‘violent’ sports like boxing, wrestling, etc.?
Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding
This Case study’s discussion presupposes a prerequisite conceptual understanding of the following:
a) Pygmalion Effect and
b) Emotional Intelligence
Accordingly, the following two articles are mandatory background readings for this case study. Also, students should be encouraged to watch Sony Picture’s Tyson documentary
- • J. Sterling Livingston, “Pygmalion in Management”, Harvard Business Review, September-October 1988
- • Daniel Goleman, “What Makes a Leader”, Harvard Business Review, November-December 1998
- • Tyson, Sony Pictures Classic, September 14th 2008
Expected Learning Outcomes
- • Understand the antecedents and influencing factors of Mike Tyson’s socially controversial and unacceptable behavior and discuss the role of his mentor in his early-life transformation
- • Discuss the relationship between some of the ‘violent’ sports and the expected behaviors of such sports personalities and the influence on their personal lives
- • Discuss and debate on how and how not the Pygmalion effect worked in shaping the life of Boxing Hall of Fame’s star, Mike Tyson and to analyze the limitations of Pygmalion effect
The following series of questions were addressed during the classroom discussion:
- 1. What kind of influence did Tyson’s ‘forgettable’ and ‘disturbed’ childhood have on his personality?
- 2. Trace Tyson’s transformation from his tough childhood to his interaction with Cus D’Amato followed by his unmatched rise to fame and subsequent downfall. What lessons does Tyson’s life offer w.r.t. managing oneself?
- 3. What role did Cus D’Amato play in Tyson’s transformation? What impact did D’Amato’s death have on Tyson’s professional and personal life?
- 4. According to you, why was Tyson influenced by Mohammed Ali to pursue a career in boxing? Was this choice reflective of his ‘innate violent urges’?
- 5. ..............................
The classroom discussion broadly answered the following questions which in-turn helped achieve the three pedagogical objectives listed above.
- I. Describe Mike Tyson’s personality before Cus D’Amato’s presence in his life. What lessons does his life provide with respect to managing oneself?
- II. Do you think there is a relationship between the nature of the sport and the expected behavior of sports personalities? Does the nature of the sport play a role in influencing and shaping the behavior of such sporting icons?
- III. ..........................