Boxing: Tyson: `I feel like I'm Norman Bates up here'

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The Independent Online
EVANDER HOLYFIELD and Don King have offered support for Mike Tyson, whose attempt to have his licence reinstated remains in doubt.

Tyson appeared before the Nevada State Athletic Commission in Las Vegas on Saturday, but after more than six hours of testimony, given mainly by a parade of attorneys and physicians representing the banned fighter, the five-man panel decided to delay their verdict until 3 October, pending a psychiatric evaluation of the disgraced boxer.

Tyson himself, who ended a previous licence application hearing in New Jersey in July with an angry outburst, lightened up proceedings. "For some reason I feel like I'm Norman Bates up here with all the doctors and everything," he said, referring to the infamous character in the Hitchcock film Psycho as the commissioners asked questions about his mental health. "Trust me, I am sorry."

Holyfield, the man whose ear Tyson bit off in a title fight last July, and King, the promoter Tyson claims robbed him of millions of dollars, said the former world heavyweight champion should be given another chance.

"To take away the thing that he does best and strip him of that, how can he rehabilitate?" Holyfield said. "He should get the opportunity to use that to rehabilitate his whole life." As to whether or not he would fight Tyson again, Holyfield said: "I don't count out anything. As long as I'm fighting there's a chance."

Holyfield, a devout Christian with a forgiving attitude, would stand to make pounds 15m or more from a third fight against Tyson. And no one would love to promote such a spectacle more than King, who is being sued by Tyson on charges he swindled the former champion out of prize money with unfair contracts that overpaid King for services.

"We have not taken a dime from Mike Tyson," King said. "It was more than a fair deal. I got what I deserve. I probably deserved more. I got 30 per cent. He got 70 per cent."

King brought elements of race into his argument, a familiar gambit. Tyson's new advisors and lawyers are white, unlike Tyson, King or Tyson's lawsuit-targeted former managers, John Horne and Rory Holloway.

"It's a shame the black community is being divided," King said. "He's being misled. They are blowing smoke in his face." Nevertheless, King ended his diatribe with conciliatory words: "I wish Mike Tyson well."

Tyson now faces a two-week wait to find out if he can climb back in the ring. Asked if he felt he had been treated unfairly, he replied: "Absolutely yes. I continue to be treated unfairly."

The commissioners were clearly angry about Tyson's aborted effort to get a licence in New Jersey, but he blamed the attempt on one of his advisors. "My life is on trial here, so to speak. Don't judge me because of some technicality problem you have with some of these guys," he said, gesturing at the array of lawyers and advisors seated around him.

Tyson said his banishment from boxing had changed him. "I acknowledge that I believed I was bigger than the sport," he said. "By this punishment, I was brought down to earth. Never mind making the same mistake again, I'll never be the same man again."

He had listened and contributed to the testimony about his mental health, finances and business dealings in boxing.

The commission was dissatisfied with the report provided by the psychiatrist Norton Roitman as part of Tyson's application team. They suggested the compromise by which the commission will give Tyson a choice of three mental health facilities from which to choose one for an independent evaluation.

As his lawyer, Dale Kinsella, fretted over Tyson's right to doctor-patient confidentially, the fighter intervened and said he would give the commission any information it wanted. "Nothing in my life is private," Tyson said.

The two-week delay gives Tyson and his team little time to meet the panel's requirements. However, it buys the commission a little extra time to follow developments in the case in Maryland in which two men have accused Tyson of assault in the wake of a minor traffic accident.

Tyson has denied the charges and Kinsella told the commissioners that no criminal charges had been filed and he expected the case to be wrapped up within a month.