Tyson threatens to shoot Lewis

Declaring himself an animal, a hell-raiser and a "convicted rapist", Mike Tyson attacked the media on Thursday for dubbing his forthcoming bout with Andrew Golota a freak show between two of the dirtiest fighters in the business.

Declaring himself an animal, a hell-raiser and a "convicted rapist", Mike Tyson attacked the media on Thursday for dubbing his forthcoming bout with Andrew Golota a freak show between two of the dirtiest fighters in the business.

"I am many things. I am an animal. I am a convicted rapist, a hell-raiser, a loving father, a semi-good husband. You don't know me. You don't know our pain, our sweat," he said. "We are in the hurting business and you criticise us for doing our jobs. You are the freaks because you don't have the audacity to face us in the ring."

By his own admission, Tyson was heavily medicated during the news conference, which likely contributed to wild mood swings. "I'm on the Zoloft to keep me from killing y'all," he said. "It has really messed me up, and I don't want to be taking it, but they are concerned about the fact that I am a violent person, almost an animal. And they only want me to be an animal in the ring."

He cursed, stripped off his shirt and offered to put a bullet through the head of current world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis in a rambling, expletive-filled news conference that veered from jaunty showmanship to naked aggression.

He also apologised for his almost constant stream of profanity, saying: "This is how I talk. I'm a street person. I never wanted to be a street person; I don't even like them. But that's how my life has turned out. I've had a lot of tragedy."

He said he had only recently understood why reporters do not like him: "I'm so ghetto I didn't realise it's because I'm being paid, not because I'm a black man. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to keep getting paid."

Tyson, 34, meets the Polish-born Golota in Detroit on 22 October in a bout that Golota's trainer, Al Certo, predicted would be "a real war". Tyson's assistant trainer, Stacy McKinley, retorted that: "Mike will try to damn near kill him [Golota]."

Tyson had his boxing licence suspended for a year after biting off part of Evander Holyfield's ear in their June 1997 bout. Outside the ring, he has spent three years in prison for rape and was jailed in Maryland for kicking two motorists after a minor traffic accident.

Golota, who lives in Chicago, has twice been disqualified from bouts for hitting below the belt. "Somebody said I'm dirty, but it's not true," he quipped. "I take a shower three times a day."

Tyson missed Golota's portion of the promotion circus, arriving almost three hours late for a chaotic news conference from which an impatient Golota had already departed.

Tyson claimed he did not want his heavyweight title back. But moments later he said: "I'll beat Lennox Lewis to oblivion. If he ever tries to intimidate me, I'm gonna put a bullet through his skull."

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