- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2003

NEW YORK — A diamond necklace worth as much as some houses. More than $300,000 in limousine rides. Rugs costing $60,000.

Mike Tyson’s Manhattan bankruptcy filing lays out the surprising ease with which the former heavyweight champion burned through hundreds of millions of dollars during his career.

Tyson, 37, has pegged much of his hope for financial resurrection on a lawsuit against Don King, according to the filings.

“There’s no question that the lawsuit could potentially be the largest asset of his estate,” Tyson attorney Debra Grassgreen said.

Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champ at 20, grossing an estimated $300million in the ring over the years. He is suing his former promoter for $100million.

The boxer describes the litigation as part of his “substantial intangible assets” in a filing that traces the arc of his career beginning with the words, “I am a professional boxer and a former heavyweight champion of the world.”

It goes on to recount his rape conviction, the 1997 bout when he bit Evander Holyfield’s ears and reported financial mismanagement by King, whose spokesman did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The filing catalogues numerous claims against Tyson, including millions of dollars in back taxes, lawsuits, child-support payments and more spending on luxury goods than many people make in a lifetime.

Tyson, for example, owes $308,749.60 to CLS Transportation, a limousine company that charges about $100 an hour for the eight-person stretch limos Tyson favors, the company’s chief operating officer, Leon Reitzenstein, said yesterday.

The debt has been incurred since Tyson’s loss to Lennox Lewis in Memphis, Tenn., last year, Reitzenstein said.

“He has been with us for quite some time. He is a good client. We have no reason to believe that he’ll leave us hanging,” Reitzenstein said.

Tyson filed for Chapter 11 protection Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. Tyson’s creditors will pursue his assets. The New York Times learned through the filing that Tyson’s foes include:

• The Internal Revenue Service, which is owed $13.4million, and the British tax authorities, which are owed $4million.

• The treasuries of Georgia and Michigan, which are owed $317,201 by Tyson’s company, Mike Tyson Enterprises.

• Seven law firms, which are owed more than $600,000 by Tyson and his company.

• Barry Hankerson, a financial manager, who is owed $500,000.

• Music producer Jimmy Henchmen, who is owed $450,000.

• A former trainer, Stacey McKinley, who has sued Tyson in a Memphis court to repay a debt of $800,000.

“We had some negotiations, but they didn’t go anywhere,” McKinley’s lawyer, Henry Shelton III, told the New York Times from Memphis. “Now, under the bankruptcy act, the lawsuit is stayed.”

Tyson also owes $51,949 in child support to Kimberley Scarborough, who gave birth to their daughter in 1991. “She’s getting along with difficulty,” Raoul Felder, her lawyer, told the Times. “It’s of concern when you see someone who made $300million.” Felder said he recently dropped a paternity suit against Tyson filed by another woman, who is still listed as a creditor in the Tyson filings.

Tyson’s assets — ranging from $10million to $50million, the filing says — include cars, two Las Vegas homes where he said he no longer lives and other property.

Tyson’s filing says his debt totals more than $27million.

Grassgreen said there are so many lawsuits filed by and against Tyson that it’s nearly impossible to describe his current financial status accurately.

“It’s very difficult to tell what the actual assets and liabilities are,” Grassgreen said, although both categories almost certainly are in the tens of millions of dollars.

Tyson’s debts are largely the doing of former managers and associates who mishandled his money, said his spokeswoman, Raymone Bain.

“Mike Tyson’s personal expenditure has been far exaggerated,” Bain said. “What has been expended on his behalf is triple, quadruple what Mike Tyson has personally spent.”

Tyson is optimistic that he will be able to reorganize and pay his debts, Bain said.

“It’s going to require some real work on his part,” said Sandy Ain, attorney for Tyson’s ex-wife Monica Turner. “It’s clear that he has eroded an astounding amount of money over recent years.”

Included in the “astounding” category is Tyson’s purchase last year of a 40-inch white gold necklace with 80 carats worth of diamonds from a Las Vegas jewelry emporium. The tab: $173,706.05.

“We’ve developed very good relations, so I don’t believe he’ll stiff me with it,” said Mordechai Yerushalmi, owner of the Jewelers. “Compared to all the purchases he’s made with me over the years, it’s very little.”

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