The man behind the most intimidating boxing walk-out music of all time

Mike Tyson's terrifying music has been a mystery since 1988. We finally solved it.

January 26, 2016

Mike Tyson is a polarizing man, from innocent street youth to vicious fighter, convicted sex offender, and now cartoon character with his role on Mike Tyson Murder Mysteries.

It’s hard to say what was going on in his mind during his boxing heyday, especially when Tyson walked out to a nightmarish experimental music composition in his 1988 match against undefeated heavyweight champion Mike Spinks. Watch the clip below with the music starting about one minute in. As he walks out you can already see Spinks start to tremble in his shorts.

[pullquote]“It’s interesting to note what Mike Tyson selected for his pre-fight music: just noise. Every once and awhile you hear the clanging of chains – I think that’s what he’s got in mind to do to Mike Spinks’ head.”[/pullquote]

Iron Mike was always intimidating, even before his fights, usually walking out to the sounds of Tupac songs “Road to Glory (Dedicated to Mike Tyson)”, “Ambitionz az a Ridah”, “Let’s Get It On” or “Toss it Up.” Tragically, Tupac was murdered in September 1996 after a Las Vegas bout between Tyson and Bruce Seldon.

DMX’s “What’s My Name?” was played before Tyson’s 2002 Lennox Lewis bout, while other notable walk-out songs included Public Enemy’s “Welcome to the Terrordome”, Mobb Deep’s “Quiet Storm”, and Redman’s “Time 4 Sum Aksion.” However, none of these came close to the feeling of a walk to the gallows quite like the song that was played before the Leon Spinks’ first round KO, with the great Muhammad Ali in attendance. Tyson was 34-0 at the time, looking to make it 35.

There has been a lot of speculation on the actual composer of the music that Tyson walked out to before the fight against Spinks. Most seemed to think it was the experimental industrial band Coil’s “How to Destroy Angels” or a deep SPK cut.

It wasn’t. It was Tom Alonso, a composer who had the responsibility of creating music for the Trump Corporation. With the fight’s commercial, finally released from the potential future president’s grasp, we can now get a better listen to the haunting entrance music. Actor Gene Hackman is featured as the narrator while the music stars about 36 seconds in. Read on for an interview with Alonso below.

  1. Tyson vs. Spinks radio ad (1988)

AUX: What did you use to record the now infamous dark ambient intro?

Tom Alonso: I used a Prophet 2000 sampler, an EMU SP-12 Turbo drum machine and probably a Roland S-550 sampler. The music was used for Trump Plaza’s TV commercials promoting his fight with Spinks and they just looped it for Mike’s big entrance.

What did you think when they asked if they could use the music from the commercial for Mike Tyson’s intro? Do you know whose idea it was?

Good questions… so… they DIDN’T ask! I had no idea they used the radio music for Tyson’s entrance until the next morning when I got a call from a NY Times reporter asking about it. I really have no idea who’s idea it was!

There has been a lot of speculation as to who was the actual composer over the years, with industrial band Coil seeming to be the frontrunner. How do you feel about that?

As for Coil – well, I just hope they haven’t been collecting royalties all these years! I don’t think their song sounds much like the Tyson music, but as you know, it’s hard to know what’s going on when you just hear it on the soundtrack for the actual fight. But I had never heard Coil’s music and think it’s really well done.

Have you ever played in any bands?

The most prominent band I’ve been in was Bootcamp. Our claim to fame was that we had two videos on rotation on MTV’s very first day on the air. In “I’m A Victim”, I was the keyboard player and played the judge!

It seemed to be a bit of a challenge to get ahold of Donald Tump to get the go-ahead for this to be released, and they wouldn’t agree to let you put out the loop as it was, so we’re left with the original commercial with Gene Hackman’s voice over top. How did you finally get in touch?

I actually contacted one of Trump’s former ad executives (code name “Ivanka”) to get their feelings on how to proceed and that resulted in my sending you the radio spot. Neither of us thought that Trump had any claim to the music but I wanted to be somewhat sure that it wouldn’t come back to bite Trump’s former advertising people.

What are your thoughts on Donald Trump running for president?

If anything Trump has mellowed since we worked for him in the ’80s. His run for president was amusing at first but is now frightening! I’m just hoping people come to their senses in time.

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