According to one Tyson insider, at about the same time Givens called Ewald, Roper phoned the late Jimmy Jacobs, one of Tyson's comanagers, and claimed that Givens was VA months pregnant with Tyson's child and that the couple would have to get married immediately. Bill Cayton, Jacobs's partner, says now that, partly because of morals clauses in Tyson's endorsement contracts, he and Jacobs encouraged the champion to marry, which he did. In fact, Givens and Tyson got married twice: first in Chicago on Feb. 7, although they had no Illinois marriage license, and then legally two days later in New York City. Givens and Roper deny that they ever called Jacobs (who died less than two months after the wedding) about a pregnancy or that they told anyone that Givens was pregnant.
"Michael called us a few days after he was married," says Jay Bright, a friend of Tyson's who lives at Ewald's house. "He was excited and happy that [Robin] was pregnant." In early June, Givens supposedly suffered a miscarriage.
On June 19, in Newsday, a New York newspaper, Stephanie Givens, Robin's younger sister, accused Tyson of beating his wife. He denied the allegation. On the rainy morning of Sept. 4, at Ewald's house, Tyson climbed into his wife's BMW and, before he could make it out of the driveway, slammed into a tree. Ewald says that Tyson simply skidded on the wet ground while on his way to buy some magazines, but Givens and Roper claimed that Tyson, in a rage against his wife who was in New York, had crashed the car deliberately. While Tyson lay in a New York hospital, with his manager, trainer and friends barred from his room on Roper's orders, Roper and Givens put the word out through the New York Daily News that Tyson was suicidal and homicidal and had a chemical imbalance that made him violent.
Givens, who has said that she and her mother and sister came as a "package" when she married Tyson, then talked Tyson into seeing a New York City psychiatrist, Dr. Henry McCurtis. Almost immediately, the Package let it be known that McCurtis had diagnosed the champion as manic-depressive and had ordered appropriate drugs. McCurtis refuses even to say whether Tyson has been his patient. On Sept. 9, Tyson and Givens left for Moscow, where Head of the Class was doing two weeks of location shooting.
Givens's description of the trip is in her divorce petition:
"After we had been in Moscow for about six days, Michael became manic and started to lose control over his emotions. On one occasion, he started throwing champagne bottles around our room. At the peak of his manic state, Michael went down to the bar and started drinking vodka, glass after glass, like it was water. He then returned to our room, grabbed a handful of lithium and locked himself in the bathroom, saying he was going to kill himself.
"Next Michael kept yelling at me that he was going to kill me, kill my mother and kill Phyllis Polaner, a former employee. Michael kept chasing me and my mother and Phyllis around the hotel from our room to the lobby. A Russian police officer tried to intervene and Michael threatened the police officer.... He dragged me into the room, before I was again able to flee from him. He then chased me down the stairs to the lobby and then hung from the hotel balcony for about 10 minutes saying he was going to kill himself. He kept chasing us from about 1 a.m. until about 5 a.m. Michael only stopped because we had to catch a plane."
Roper offered a similar sworn declaration, but others who were on the scene say the Givens-Roper story isn't true. "We had no incidents whatsoever while he was here, and if we had, I would have heard about them," said Anatoli Mikheyev, the house detective at the Rossiya, the hotel where the Head of the Class cast stayed in Moscow. Other sources say that Tyson and Givens may also have stayed at the Mezhdunarodnaya Hotel during their Moscow visit, but a security officer there says that he is unaware of any incidents involving Tyson.
Michael Elias, the cocreator and co-executive producer of the show, was also in Moscow. "He [Tyson] was exemplary at all times. I never heard him raise his voice to anyone."
Has Tyson physically assaulted his wife? When asked the question point-blank by Walters during the first 20/20 interview, Givens, who hasn't exactly been coy in discussing her husband's behavior, replied, "He shakes, he pushes, he swings.... Sometimes I think he's trying to scare me." Yet in her divorce petition Givens says that Tyson "has throughout our marriage been violent and physically abusive and prone to unprovoked rages of violence and destruction." The only specific instance mentioned in the petition of Tyson's allegedly hitting her was after that 20/20 interview. Givens says that two days after the interview aired she was awakened at the mansion when Tyson began "hitting about my body and my head." Givens has never publicly showed any physical evidence of having been beaten.