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The Glows Are Off
Pat Putnam
October 24, 1988
With their marriage kaput, Mike Tyson and Robin Givens battle over the question: Was she only after his money?
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October 24, 1988

The Glows Are Off

With their marriage kaput, Mike Tyson and Robin Givens battle over the question: Was she only after his money?

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Let's see, the last time we looked in on the Family Tyson, wife Robin Givens and her mother, Ruth Roper, were accusing husband Mike, the heavyweight champion of the world, of being suicidal, homicidal and chemically unbalanced. Then Givens and Roper got serious. Playing the New York tabloids the way Heifetz worked the fiddle, they succeeded in having Tyson labeled as manic-depressive after packing him off to a psychiatrist, who loaded him up with mood-altering drugs. Next, they accused Tyson of wreaking havoc in a Moscow hotel and at the $4 million New Jersey mansion where he and Givens lived. Meanwhile, they charged, he had been trying to do them serious bodily harm. In the ultimate humiliation, Tyson sat beside his wife on ABC's 20/20 and listened passively as Givens told Barbara Walters and the world how much she and her mom dearly loved Mike, but he was such a furious beast that they were terrified whenever he was around. "I felt about him as a son," Roper said during the show.

Having set up the pigeon, Givens and Roper fired. On Oct. 7, Givens filed for divorce in Los Angeles, and since she and Tyson have no children, she asked only for custody of half his money.

No longer on lithium and Thorazine, the antipsychotic drugs he had been taking, Tyson fired back. Last Friday he filed his own petition in New Jersey for divorce or annulment, claiming that he had married Givens after she had falsely told him she was pregnant. "The issue is not money," he told the Chicago Sun-Times that day. "...It's just the idea that they played a scheme on me.... They drew me in, they worked on my emotions because I was in love. They tried to separate me from my friends.... She [Givens] just tried to ruin me and destroy me. Not only did she want to take my money, but she wanted to ruin me, embarrass me, take my manhood and humiliate me on television so that no woman would ever want me again, and that was evil."

And there she was again last Friday night on 20/20—Givens the actress, working hard at her craft. Unlike during her first session with Walters, Givens managed a tear this time, if only from her left eye. "Nobody could love Michael more than I do," she said. "For people to bring it down to money, it's sad. As far as money goes, it's something I'm not thinking about. My lawyers will handle the money issue."

Lawyers are inclined to do just that, especially when the husband is a multimillionaire. And Givens filed her suit in California, where state law provides for a 50-50 split of communal property, instead of in New Jersey or New York, where the courts decide divorce settlements on a case-by-case basis.

Which is not to say that Givens doesn't have money of her own; she is a regular in the successful ABC television series Head of the Class. Another TV actress, Holly Robinson, of 21 Jump Street, attended Sarah Lawrence College with Givens. Delores Robinson, Holly's mother, says, "I'm privy to have known them [Givens and Roper]." According to Delores, Holly once knocked Givens down for calling Delores Robinson a slut and for falsely accusing the two Robinsons of stealing money from her. "I knew them in the old days before there was a Mike Tyson," says Delores. "This whole thing was a setup. Robin married him for the money. We predicted it when she married him, that she would stay with him however long it took to make sure she was in and could get the money. As soon as that point was had, she started to discredit him."

Kimberly Alexander, an Atlanta businesswoman, also attended Sarah Lawrence. Unlike Holly Robinson, Alexander never had a cross word with Givens. "But we weren't friends," says Alexander. "Robin didn't have any friends at Sarah Lawrence. She made her presence known, but she rubbed everybody the wrong way. At our graduation, they called her name and she was booed, loud enough to be noticed. I knew she had enough ambition to get what she wanted, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but I also knew Robin would do it any way she could. She thinks people are expendable, she uses them."

Whether Givens was using Tyson or not, their relationship appears to have been shaky from the start. Last November, Tyson and a friend, Sal Di Carlo, who owns a nightclub in Albany, N.Y., met with Colin Hart, a reporter for a London tabloid, The Sun, in the coffee shop of the Las Vegas Hilton. Tyson was in town to watch lightweight Edwin Rosario fight Julio Cesar Chavez. Tyson told Di Carlo and Hart that he had no intention of marrying Givens.

"She has wanted me to marry her for a long time but I ain't going to do it," Tyson was quoted as saying. "Hey, I'm only 21 and I want to play the field for a while.... Besides, we fight all the time. She thinks she is so much better than me, just because she has had an education.... It may be true, but I hate the way she goes about telling me. I retaliate by telling her I am the heavyweight champion and she should know her place. Man, she really gets into a temper at that and comes at me. She knows she can't hurt me if she kicks me in the head so she tries to kick me in the groin."

Early in February, Camille Ewald, the 83-year-old woman who helped raise Tyson and at whose house in Cats-kill, N.Y., he usually lives when he's in training, got a call from Givens. "She was upset about Mike and other girls," Ewald says. "I told her: 'Mike is young. He's a champion. He doesn't know how to say no. He may see other girls and he may let them kiss him, but that doesn't mean he goes to bed with them.' But she was worried. She said, 'I'm not one of his bambinos.' "

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