Tyson: The waiting must go on

Former world heavyweight champion must undergo psychiatric examination before licence is granted
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The Independent Online
MIKE TYSON must be examined by a psychiatrist before he will be allowed back into the ring in the state of Nevada, the five-man Nevada Athletic Commission decided unanimously here last night.

The commission will pick three psychiatrists and Tyson will be able to choose one of them for an examination expected within a week or so. If he is found mentally fit to fight again, the commissioners are expected to approve a licence. Another hearing was fixed for 3 October.

Tyson was at times testy but ultimately contrite as he pleaded with the commission that banned him from boxing on 9 July, 1997, after he bit Evander Holyfield's ears in a title bout. Tyson said he was "so sorry" and that the ban had left him all but broke. He promised he was a changed man and would never misbehave again. "Trust me, this won't happen anymore," he said. "I believed I was bigger than the sport. I realise now I'm Mike Tyson the athlete. It brought me down to earth a great deal."

The commissioners, however, want an outside source to determine whether Tyson is ready to return to the sport he once dominated. "I believe a medically assisted solution is the fairest solution to this matter," commission chairman Dr Elias Ghanem said. "We owe it to Mr Tyson. Anything less, in my opinion, would be wrong."

Tyson's lawyer, Dale Kinsella, told the commission that the boxer had lost $50-65m because of the ban. The former heavyweight champion's advisers say his money troubles may force him to fight overseas if his application is rejected.

Tyson's character was also a key issue. When commissioner Lorenzo Fertitta asked why he always seemed to be getting in trouble, Tyson said: "I'm belligerent sometimes when I'm provoked. I'm tired of people trying to take advantage of me, trying to bully me around and antagonise me. It's been pervasive for so many years that I'm a bad seed."

Tyson is accused of assaulting two men following a minor traffic accident involving his wife's Rolls-Royce in a Washington suburb. Because a hearing is pending, Kinsella said Tyson would not answer questions about it.

Tyson, who arrived on a red motorcycle wearing a leather jacket and jeans, at times buried his head in his hands as if he were disgusted. At one point he said he was being "humiliated".

Kinsella opened the hearing by reading a letter from Tyson addressed to Dr Ghanem. "I acknowledge that I made a mistake and again I apologise for it. I assure you this kind of behaviour will not repeat itself. Let's put this behind us and allow boxing to be what it should be, the best sport in the world."

Sitting with Tyson were his wife, Monica, and other lawyers and advisers, and the audience included celebrities such as basketball stars Magic Johnson and Karl Malone. Kinsella told the commission that Tyson was a changed man who has suffered "financially, massively" in the 14 months he has not been allowed to fight. He has surrounded himself with a new set of advisers and lawyers, Kinsella said, meaning he is no longer associated with Don King and others Tyson feels cheated him.

Tyson said: "My life is on trial, so to speak. I'm not going to allow other people to have nice things and my kids to starve. You've got to understand I care about my kids."

Commissioner Luther Mack asked how many contracts he had signed in his career, and Tyson snapped: "Do you really think I know, sir? Do you know any fighter who can actually say that?" Mack said he wasn't trying to humiliate him. "You are humiliating me," Tyson said.Later, physiologist Norton Roitman, who examined Tyson last month, told the commissioners that the fighter had changed his life for the better and had a bright future. He said Tyson is "sort of desperate to feel touched and loved".

Rejection could mean another year out of the ring - at least in Nevada and the American states that honour its suspension. He reportedly has had offers from promoters in other countries to fight for lucrative purses.