When Tyson was sent to prison earlier this month, he and his lawyers kept quiet in the hope that he could avoid being disqualified from the ring again. He had only recently recovered his licence, which was taken away after he bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear. Then he attacked two motorists near Washington after a minor traffic incident, and was given a year in prison. He was still on probation for raping a beauty pageant contestant in Indiana, having served only part of the sentence. The strategy seemed to be to keep a low profile and hope it all blew over.
But on Saturday, Tyson apparently threw a television at the bars of his Maryland prison and was sent to the administrative segregation unit. "Mr Tyson was going through some problems Friday night," said Eric Seleznow, spokesman for Montgomery Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. "He threw a TV," he said. "He threw it against some bars with people on the other side. No one was hurt."
One possible explanation for the boxer's renewed bout with the authorities, sources in the Tyson camp told new agencies on Sunday, was that he had recently stopped taking his anti-depressants. The medication was stopped by prison doctors after Tyson refused to let a prison psychologist examine him, according to AP.
The incident came after a guard hung up the telephone while Tyson was trying to use it.
A disciplinary hearing was being held yesterday, with Tyson possibly liable to more jail time. But since he had been well behaved since he entered prison, that seemed unlikely. "He's been generally compliant and reasonable until this incident," Mr Seleznow said.
The question mark hanging over Tyson's career gets larger every day. One query is whether Indiana calls him back to serve out the rest of his rape sentence, if it deems the conditions of his parole violated. One reason why Tyson's lawyers did not immediately appeal the jailing was that if he did his time, then Indiana would leave things be. The authorities did not revoke the terms of his parole after the Holyfield incident; Tyson was said to have done well beforehand, to have done more than the required community service, and to have attended counselling sessions for sex offenders.
However, there is another set of questions, over the attitude of the Nevada Athletic Commission. They took his licence away in 1997 and gave it back last October, but it must be in jeopardy again. In particular, Tyson's handlers had told the NAC that he was often depressed, but that this could be controlled through the use of drugs. He was taken off the drugs a week before his fight in January with Francois Botha. The latest incident poses big questions about whether Tyson is safe without medication.