Buffer was born and raised in Roslyn, Pennsylvania, to an enlisted man in the United States Navy and his wife during World War 2. His parents divorced when he was 11 months of age, and Buffer was then raised by foster parents, a school bus driver and housewife, in the Philadelphia suburb of Roslyn. He enlisted in the United States Army during the Vietnam War at age 20 and served until age 23. He held various jobs including a car salesman, then began a modelling career at age 32 before becoming a ring announcer at age 38.
In 1982, Buffer began his career as a ring announcer. By 1983, he was announcing all boxing matches promoted by Bob Arum's Top Rank on ESPN, which gave him a national identity at a time when ring announcers were strictly locally hired talent. By 1984, Buffer developed the catchphrase "Let's get ready to rumble" in his announcing, which gained enormous popularity. He began the process of obtaining a federal trademark for the phrase in the 1980s, which he acquired in 1992.
By the late 1980s, Buffer was the exclusive ring announcer for all bouts in Donald Trump-owned casinos. Trump said of Buffer, "He's great, he's the choice, he has a unique ability...I told my people, "We got to have him." Buffer's work was also admired by many of the boxing greats. Sugar Ray Leonard once said, "When Buffer introduces a fighter, it makes him want to fight."
Buffer's fame has reunited him with long-lost family members. In 1989, Buffer was contacted by his birth-father after having seen him on television, who introduced him to his half-brothers. In the mid-1990s, Buffer brought on one of his half-brothers, Bruce Buffer, as his agent/manager. This grew into a business partnership to increase licensing productivity of the trademark.
Michael Buffer is currently the announcer for all HBO and RTL (Germany) boxing matches, along with Versus matches promoted by Top Rank. He was formerly the announcer for WCW.
Buffer was the exclusive ring announcer for World Championship Wrestling (WCW) main events featuring Hulk Hogan or other top WCW talent until 2001, when the organisation folded. The WCW's former parent company Time Warner owned through their pay-per-view subscription division HBO, which broadcast many matches from promoter Top Rank, of which Buffer is the lead ring announcer. The exclusity of his contract with WCW prevented Buffer from announcing for other wrestling type organisations, forcing him to stop announcing for the UFC (his only UFC cards were UFC 6 and UFC 7). However, when the WCW ceased to exist, and Time Warner had no more affiliation with professional wrestling, Buffer was enabled to announce in other wrestling promotions. WWE wrestler Triple H created the phrase "Let's get ready to suck it!" as part of his D-Generation X act to mock Buffer while he was on WWF Raw's rival show WCW Monday Nitro during the Monday Night Wars.
On the August 18, 2007 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, for the first time in more than six years, Buffer returned to pro-wrestling ring announcing duties at Madison Square Garden in a boxing match between pro boxer Evander Holyfield (who was substituting for Montel Vontavious Porter) and pro wrestler Matt Hardy. Buffer appears in the Royal Rumble 2008 commercial, in which he begins to say "Let's get ready to rumble!" only to be superkicked by Shawn Michaels, causing him to fall over. As well as being in the commercial for the event, he was the guest ring announcer during the Royal Rumble match itself.
During his career, Buffer has announced the World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, NBA Championships, and NFL playoff games. Michael, like his brother Bruce, announced early UFC fights, starting at UFC 6 in 1995. He has appeared on various talk shows hosted by Jay Leno, David Letterman, Arsenio Hall, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel. He has also appeared on Saturday Night Live, In Living Color, Mad TV and The Howard Stern Show. He has been animated in The Simpsons, South Park and Celebrity Deathmatch, and his voice was sampled in the eurodance song Let's Get Ready To Rumble by PJ and Duncan and he appeared in the video for the cover by KO's ft. Michael Buffer. He has played himself in various films including Ready to Rumble and Rocky Balboa, and in 2008 Buffer appeared as Walbridge, a main villain in the comedy You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Buffer is currently the host of Versus' boxing retro show Legends of the Ring, which is produced by Top Rank, Inc., where he is ring announcer for most of their top matches. He also appeared on NBC's Deal or No Deal on December 10, 2007, and opened the finale of the seventh season of American Idol (owner by RTL Group; Buffer is the ring announcer for RTL-televised boxing matches in Europe) on May 20, 2008, which employed a boxing theme. On July 19, 2008, Buffer announced the Affliction: Banned mixed martial arts show. On November 10, 2008, Buffer started the heads-up action at the 2008 World Series of Poker final table with a modified version of his trademark statement, "Let's get ready to shuffle up and deal". Buffer also appears in the animated TV series Phineas and Ferb in the episode Raging Bully, as the voice of the announcer for the big thumb-wrestling match with Phineas and Buford.
Buffer has been reproduced as an action figure in both Toy Biz's WCW line and Jakks Pacific's Rocky line.
Buffer also recorded player introductions for the 2009-2010 Duke University basketball team.
Buffer began using the phrase "Let's get ready to rumble!" in the early 1980s. By 1992, he acquired a federal trademark for the phrase. Buffer uses his famous phrase in various licensing deals including the platinum selling album Jock Jams by Tommy Boy Records, the video games Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and Game Boy Advance and Greatest Heavyweights of the Ring for the Sega Genesis and numerous other products. In addition, he has used variations of the phrase in advertisements, including the popular commercial for Mega Millions in which he says "Let's get ready to Win Big!" and the Kraft Cheese commercial in which he says "Let's get ready to Crumble!".
As of 2009, Buffer had earned over $400 million from licensing on the trademark.
Buffer first wed at age 21. The marriage, which ended in divorce after seven years, produced two sons. More than 25 years passed before he remarried in 1999. He and his second wife divorced in 2003.
On September 13, 2007, while making an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, he proposed to his current (third) wife, Christine. Buffer currently resides in Southern California. His half-brother Bruce is the announcer for leading mixed martial arts promotion, Ultimate Fighting Championship. Both Michael and Bruce are grandsons of late boxer Johnny Buff.
In 2008 Buffer was treated for throat cancer.
- America's Next Top Model, Cycle 18 (2012)- Himself
- The Bold and the Beautiful (2010)- Himself
- 2012 (2009)- Himself/Ring Announcer
- You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008)- Grant Walbridge
- Rocky Balboa (2006)- Himself/Ring Announcer
- Against the Ropes (2004)- Ring Announcer
- Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003)- Himself
- The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave (2003)- Himself/Sports Commentator
- Game Over (2003)- Ring Announcer
- More Than Famous (2003)- Himself
- Play It to the Bone (2003)- Himself
- Ready To Rumble (2000)- Himself
- ClayFighter 63 1/3 (1997)- Announcer
- Virtuosity (1995)- Ring Announcer
- Prize Fighter (1993)- Ring Announcer
- Rocky V (1990)- Ring Announcer
- Harlem Nights (1989)- Ring Announcer
- Homeboy (1988)- Ring Announcer