ALSO ON SLAM!
Wednesday, July 9, 1997
Tyson banned for lifeLAS VEGAS (AP) -- Mike Tyson's boxing license was revoked and he was fined $3 million today for biting a chunk out of Evander Holyfield's ear during their WBA heavyweight title fight on June 28.
Tyson, who also was ordered to pay the legal costs of the hearing, can apply for reinstatement of his license in one year.
Tyson, who apologized on television last week and asked to be allowed to fight again someday, did not show up at the hearing, leaving his lawyers to plead his case before the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
The commission adopted the penalty proposed by state prosecutors.
"Suspension would not be enough, " said deputy attorney general Gordon Fink.
"Boxing is unlike any other sport. There is a fine line between boxing and chaos," he said.
The very nature of the sport, he said, "needs strict adherence."
The state Athletic Commission, in a unanimous voice vote, also declared Tyson a "discredit to boxing" for biting Holyfield in their WBA championship bout.
Officials said the punishment could extend well beyond one year and could amount to a lifetime ban.
"Unless the commission changes its mind, his would be a permanent revocation," the commission's legal adviser Donald Haight said.
"Without further action," he said, "the license would not be restored."
In his arguments, Tyson's chief lawyer said the former champion should be allowed to fight again and portrayed him as a gentleman who has apologized.
"Mr. Tyson spoke to the world after the fight. He told the world he was sorry about what had happened," attorney Oscar Goodman said. "He threw himself on the mercy of this court."
"After his boxing losses, he would shake his opponent's hand. He was a gentleman," Goodman said. "He remains a gentleman today and retains his dignity today. He has confidence in this commission and that you will do the right thing."
Tyson wasn't on hand to plead his case, despite a public apology a week ago in which he asked to be allowed to fight again. Instead, he flew to New York from Las Vegas.
Port Authority police said Tyson, accompanied by two bodyguards, arrived at Kennedy Airport aboard TWA Flight 778 at 6 a.m. EDT, about six hours before the hearing began.
"It was my advice for him not to be here," Goodman said. "He said, 'I'm sorry.' There's no reason to say it again. What more can he add?"
As the hearing started, commission chairman Elias Ghanem said the panel would draw "no negative inference from his nonattendance." He called this the "most trying time in Nevada boxing history."
Tyson was not legally required to appear, but as late as Tuesday afternoon officials believed he would stand before the five-member panel, answer questions and plead with members not to revoke his license.
Last week, in a nationally televised apology to Holyfield, Tyson pleaded to be allowed to fight again someday.
"I only ask that this not be a lifetime ban," he said.
Other states would be required by a new federal law to honor Nevada's revocation, meaning the profession that has made Tyson $140 million during the last two years could be in jeopardy.
It is possible Tyson could still fight overseas while trying to get his license back, but because he's on probation as a result of a rape conviction, he may not get permission to leave the country.
Fighting overseas might also be seen by the boxing commissioners as thumbing his nose at the penalty.
Holyfield, now touring South Africa, said earlier that a year's ban from boxing wouldn't be enough for the bites Tyson inflicted on him in the richest fight in history.
"Most boxers only fight one time a year," Holyfield said. "He probably needs a year off to get himself better anyway. He probably needs the rest. The penalty is probably going to have to be a little more extensive than that."
It was the second time in five years that the 31-year-old Tyson finds his future in the hands of a group of people who will decide his fate.
Unlike February 1992, when he was convicted of raping Desiree Washington, however, Tyson will not do time this time. He served three years in an Indiana prison and is still on probation.
That prison sentence, though, seems to have affected his boxing abilities, and an indefinite license revocation could erode those skills further at an age when heavyweight boxers generally begin to decline.
"I don't think you will see the same Tyson again," veteran trainer Angelo Dundee said. "His skills will definitely erode. They already eroded during his time in prison."