Lewis and Rahman brawl on American TV show

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Lennox Lewis has a reputation for politeness under scrutiny that would be the envy of many a politician. However, even the most unflappable of characters have their limits, as Hasim Rahman almost found out to his cost when the two fighters became involved in a brawl during an American television interview last night.

Rahman, who became world heavyweight champion after defeating Lewis last year, got into an argument with the Briton which led to both fighters grappling with one another on the studio floor for about a minute as crew members tried to pull them apart. A table was broken in the mêlée but no punches were thrown and neither man appeared hurt afterwards.

Rahman's co-manager, Stan Hoffman, said that the brawl, during a recording for ESPN in California, was sparked by comments which Rahman made in an earlier TV interview.

"What happened was that Rock [Rahman] made a reference to Lennox acting in a gay manner," Hoffman said last night. "Obviously, he didn't mean Lennox was gay." When they met at the studios, Hoffman said, "Lennox was seething."

Lewis and Rahman were appearing together to publicise their forthcoming rematch for the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation heavyweight belts on 17 November in Las Vegas.

"They were face to face, chest to chest," Ed Keenan, a publicist for Media Works, the company publicising the bout, said. "Lewis pushed Rahman's arm back. Then they were grappling on the floor. They broke a table."