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In this corner, weighing 216 pounds, the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, a man once hailed as "the savior of boxing" and "Kid Dynamite" ...Iron Mike Tyson.
And in this corner, weighing 216 pounds, an undisputed menace to society, a man now called a "serial buttocks fondler" and "a ticking time bomb" ...Michael Gerald Tyson.
Last week a special Marion County, Ind., grand jury neared the end of its three-week-old investigation of allegations that Tyson raped an 18-year-old contestant in the Miss Black America Pageant in his Indianapolis hotel room during the early-morning hours of July 19. The six-member panel, three men and three women, was expected to decide whether to indict or clear Tyson sometime this week. Even if Tyson is not indicted—agreement by at least five of the jurors is necessary for indictment—his troubles won't be over. That's because his biggest opponent is not the 110-pound college freshman who accused him of rape. His biggest opponent is himself.
The accounts of half a dozen contestants in the Miss Black America pageant, as well as others who were in the company of Tyson during a tumultuous 37½-hour visit to Indianapolis, portray a man whose behavior is, at the least, an embarrassment to himself and to the sport he represents and, at worst, dangerous. What's more, the accusations against the former champion come as little surprise to those who have watched Tyson closely over the years, especially since the deaths of his two mentors, Cus D'Amato in 1985 and Jimmy Jacobs in 1988.
According to one source, one of those most concerned about Tyson's behavior is Don King, the promoter who effectively took charge of the fighter's career in 1988. The source says that King has come to realize that he should never permit Tyson to venture anywhere alone. Says this source, "King knows that by himself he can't chaperon Tyson [King was not at the pageant]. He doesn't have the energy or the wherewithal to do it. He uses relays so that there is always someone with Tyson." These King designees cannot control Tyson; their role, says the source, is simply "to help Tyson out and to contact King immediately if anything goes wrong."
That King's fears are well founded—and that Tyson is his own worst enemy—becomes clear in a recounting of the visit Tyson made to Indianapolis from July 17 to 19 in conjunction with the 21st Indiana Black Expo, a celebration of African-American culture, and one of its events, the Miss Black America Pageant. Not only was Tyson accused of having committed rape while in Indianapolis, but he is also a defendant in two civil lawsuits asking more than $100 million in damages and alleging that he fondled participants in the pageant. Black Expo will no doubt survive the damaging publicity that attended Tyson's visit, but the beauty pageant may not. Finally, in his seeming rush toward self-destruction, Tyson jeopardized his Nov. 8 fight with heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield as well as his future: Conviction for rape can carry a sentence of 20 to 50 years.
Tyson arrived at Indianapolis International Airport at 4:25 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17, to appear at Black Expo at the invitation of the Reverend Charles Williams, the president of Black Expo. Among the other VIPs attending the Expo were soul singer Johnny Gill, Army general Calvin Waller, actor Danny Glover, Chicago Bulls guard Craig Hodges and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who hoped the well-attended Black Expo would afford an opportunity to raise money for his financially strapped Operation PUSH. But Tyson turned out to be the biggest attraction.
Tyson, along with his bodyguard Dale Edwards and an Expo representative, spent most of that first evening in the company of B Angie B, a rap singer and friend of Tyson's. The four of them partied at three sites. At 2:15 a.m. on July 18, Tyson and B Angie B retired to his room at the Canterbury Hotel.
Because of downtown development, the Canterbury appears to be teetering over a 40-foot-deep hole the size of a city block. Tyson began to dig a hole for himself when he and Gill left the hotel around noon and headed for the nearby Omni Severin Hotel, where rehearsals for the pageant were being held and promotions for the event were being taped. One contestant, Noemi McKenzie, from Woburn, Mass., recalled the scene for SI: "We were rehearsing, and when Tyson walked in, everyone was so excited. I thought, Oooh, Mike Tyson. We all wanted to take pictures with him. While we were taking pictures, he started touching us and rubbing up against us. When he did it to me, I felt offended. I mean, you don't touch people like that, you know? I put him right in his place. [He] acted as if he had walked into a room full of sluts." McKenzie said that Gill, on the other hand, "[behaved like] a perfect gentleman."
Artavia Edwards, a contestant from Sacramento, says that in an attempt to discourage Tyson's advances, she told him that she had a boyfriend. When he persisted, she ignored him, but to no avail. "Why you want to do me like that?" he asked her. According to Edwards, Tyson stared at her and then said, in reference to her pants and loose-fitting blouse, "Why did you wear something like this? I can't see what [your figure] looks like."