Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out is one of the most iconic video games of all time. Kids played it religiously when Nintendo released it in 1987 just a couple of months before Christmas, and kids are still playing it today.
What made the game so great is that it wasn’t easy by any means. Getting to Tyson took serious dedication. There were rumors in every neighborhood across America of some kid at school beating Tyson three times or something crazy, but everyone knew it was an urban legend. It was one of those things where someone just happened to beat Tyson when no one was over to witness the life-altering knockout.
What made the game so much fun, though, was not only the challenge itself but the hilarious characters that you faced with each progressing fight.
So without further ado, here are all the characters from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, ranked.
14. Doc Louis
Trainer Doc Louis frequently made Little Mac go for runs on a waterfront overlooking New York City — Mac was a Brooklyn guy? Queens? — and those training sessions were always accompanied by “inspiring” music that helped convey the special journey Mac was on. Yeah, I know, touching scene. But Doc made Mac wear a pink sweatsuit while he rode ahead of him on a bicycle. Simply put, Doc Louis was a prick.
The only thing that man was good for was hitting “select” as many times as possible between rounds that would force his fist to pump faster, allowing for poor Little Mac to regain some stamina after getting pummeled to death by boxers nine times his size.
13. Mr. Sandman
Mr. Sandman was an unpredictable dude, making him a royal pain to fight. Everything he did was very abrupt and his defense was like the 1985 Chicago Bears. This is usually where I fell apart and that’s exactly why he’s ranked nearly dead last. Oh yes, people took — and still take — this game very personally.
12. Little Mac
Little Mac’s three signature quotes to Doc were as follows:
- I’m tired Doc!
- He’s hurting me Doc!
- I can’t win, Doc!
What a loser.
11. Von Kaiser
Von Kaiser was the second of Little Mac’s opponents. The only thing likable about this dude was his mustache and how easy he was to defeat. It was so obvious when one of his springy uppercuts was coming — or when his head would shake before he threw a jab — that it was kinda fun to just toy with the guy and dodge him for a while until finally putting him on his German rear end with an uppercut.
Kaiser’s nickname was apparently “The German Steel Machine,” which is right up there with Rik Smits’s “Flying Dutchman.” According to his Wiki — yes, Von Kaiser has a Wiki — he suffered some “emotional trauma stemming from when he was beaten by a group of children in one of his boxing classes.” That might be the greatest fun fact ever I’ve read. Sounds like Kramer’s karate class where the kids finally staged a revolt and beat him up.
10. Referee Mario
The beauty of early Nintendo was that Mario wasn’t just limited to Super Mario Bross, he was everywhere. Mario was in Donkey Kong, he was one of the players you could choose in NES Hockey, and he served as the portly, lovable referee in this very game. But as much as I love Mario, there’s no way to rank him any higher than 10th. All he did was occasionally say “TKO” to a roaring crowd in a voice that definitely did not sound like it came from a guy named Mario. Frankly, he should be appreciative that he’s even on this list.
9. Piston Honda
One of the more disturbing things about this guy was the eyebrow movements he doled out before delivering a jab. Was he being arrogant? Was he flirting with Little Mac? The dude was playing mind games, that’s all I know, and it was not appreciated.
According to his Wiki page, he was born in 1959, so he’s obviously retired from boxing, but I can guarantee you he’s still playing games with his eyebrows, mostly likely in line at the grocery store and Starbucks.
8. Super Macho Man
Super Macho Man was a graying old man from Hollywood who was somehow listed as being 27 years of age. So clearly, he was completely full of it and, judging by his size, probably doing steroids too. The big fella was the last hurdle before facing Tyson and managed to hold that wall up pretty well. His infamous “Macho Spin Punch” was as devastating as his super-active chest.
7. Glass Joe
Glass Joe was a MESS. But he was our mess. My favorite line in the description of Glass Joe is as follows: “He’ll be knocked down no matter how much health he has left.” Yeah, good old Glass Joe was hardly inspiring. He was basically the guy that continually starts fights in the bar even though he got flattened with one punch the night before, and the night before that. The blind resiliency and complete lack of self-awareness continue to be something to root for.
6. Great Tiger
Great Tiger was an Indian with a blinking ruby in his turban who teleported around the ring in sweeping circles, taking wild swings at Little Mac. Now please read that sentence aloud to the person standing closest to you. If the character of Great Tiger were introduced nowadays, there would be riots all over the country and large gatherings of people burning their Nintendo systems in protest. But I don’t care, he was a special kind of maestro in the ring.
5. Don Flamenco
Don Flamenco was a flamboyant fella who pranced into the ring with a rose in his mouth and would encourage you to punch him with a “c’mon, c’mon, c’mon.” Basically, Flamenco and his taunting ways were akin to Sugar Ray Leonard’s, with the glaring exception being that Don was a comically terrible boxer. Flamenco would also often complain about messing up his majestic hair and, strangely enough, he would begin to go bald the more you punched him.
The oddest bucket of traits amongst all the characters definitely belonged to Don Flamenco.
4. Bald Bull
Just take one look at Bald Bull’s head and tell me he’s not a Top 5 character. His unsettling “Bull Charge,” which only Vince McMahon would find to be fair and perfectly legal, was fun to master in countering and somehow enjoyable mostly due to his oozing charisma. Double B’s facial expressions were out of this world and his mocking, maniacal laugh was Emmy-worthy.
To this very day, I still have a hard time believing Bald Bull was Turkish. I’d bet a healthy chunk of change that Bald Bull was born in the USA and watched WWF every Saturday morning, mimicking each move with great vigor.
3. King Hippo
King Hippo’s pants fell down every time you punched him in the mouth. The man was a complete failure as a boxer, yet was arrogant enough to call himself a king and wear a crown. Gotta love the confidence and you just gotta love the sloppy disaster that was King Hippo.
My favorite part about Mr. Hippo was that once he hit the mat, he was down forever. I’m sure he could’ve found a way to get up, but he didn’t care. King Hippo was there for the packed arenas and all the groupies that came with it. I’ll take grand showmanship over technical boxing skills every day of the week.
Seriously, how can you not love this dude? Sorry, I mean KING.
2. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson should probably be No. 1 considering this all-timer of a video game was birthed thanks to his existence. When it came to fighting Tyson, it was downright impossible. You either blocked his punches and took a ton of damage to your energy level in the process, or got knocked to the canvas in 0.3 seconds. I never beat Tyson and half the people who said they beat Tyson did not, in fact, beat Tyson.
The greatest part of the game was probably the widely known cheat code that brought you directly to Tyson, which was basically put in place for all the cowards who couldn’t weather the storm of getting there the organic way. As you might’ve guessed, there’s a video on YouTube that explains how to KO Tyson.
It even comes with special notes as to how to survive and what’s most effective. This is art.
1. Soda Popinski
Soda Popinski was an infamous Russian drunk who frequently threatened to get you “punch drunk.” In this day and age, there’s simply no way a drunk, purple-faced boxer who proudly drank out of a green bottle and haughtily laughed in your face each time he knocked you out would be accepted. And that’s precisely why this game must live on until the end of time.
What makes this man even greater is that in Super Punch-Out — a game that came out two years prior — his name was Vodka Drukenski. Subtle.
So if Soda’s not No. 1, NOBODY is No. 1.