A report from an online news source, Kotaku, states that the legendary champion boxer Mike Tyson has just learned about his Street Fighter II doppelganger, the character known as ‘Balrog’. This news is pretty insane to learn about since Street Fighter II released back in 1991. Not only that but the game has seen multiple releases since then like Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter II HD, and has been included in many of Capcom’s Street Fighter anniversary collections (which is one game featuring multiple Street Fighter installments). So Tyson had many opportunities to learn about the character ‘Balrog’.
Tyson was asked about the character’s background by ESPN, when asked about the character by ESPN’s Arda Ocal. Tyson responded with, “No, I have no idea”. This then led Ocal to explain more about the character, like the character’s name change from ‘M. Bison’ to ‘Balrog’, the initial, ‘M’, being used as a stand-in for the name ‘Mike’. As seen as common knowledge within the Fighting Game Community, Capcom was nervous about legal liability with the boxing character’s name being ‘M. Bison’, since it is very close to Tyson’s name. This led the Japanese game developer to change the names of a few of the characters. The names are different between Japanese and American versions of the classic fighting game.
Japanese Version Names:
- ‘M. Bison’ is a boxing character that resembles the actual Mike Tyson.
- ‘Balrog’ is the claw wielding character.
- ‘Vega’ is the character that resembles a dictator.
American Version Names:
- ‘Balrog’ is a boxing character that resembles the actual Mike Tyson with the name change due to legal liability.
- ‘Vega’ is the claw wielding character with the name change.
- ‘M. Bison’ is the character that resembles a dictator with the name change.
International Names: Beyond these changes, members of the Fighting Game Community call these characters by different names, so no one is confused.
- ‘Balrog’ is called ‘Boxer’.
- ‘Vega’ is called ‘Claw’.
- ‘M. Bison’ is called ‘Dictator’.
Apparently, back in April, Tyson was told about the character’s existence on his podcast, Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson. This led the former champion boxer to call the Japanese game developers “dirty motherfuckers” and “jackasses”.
— Hotboxin' with Mike Tyson (@hotboxinpodcast) April 5, 2019
For longtime fans of Tyson, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the boxer depicted in video games. Released in 1987, Japanese game developer Nintendo released Punch-Out!!. A boxing game that featured a look-alike to Tyson as the game’s final boss. This game has become one of the most beloved games in gaming history.
When ESPN’s Ocal was finished explaining the background of Street Fighter‘s boxing character, he asked if Tyson had ever seen the character before. Tyson responded with, “never in a million years,”; however, he added, “I’m really honored with that impersonation of me.”