- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 14, 2002

The D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission's unanimous decision to grant convicted rapist Mike Tyson a license to fight heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis tells us all we need to know about bottom line these days: Money talks.

Tyson, who spent time in the clink for his 1992 rape conviction, and who has assaulted several people including a motorist after a minor fender-bender brings the potential for a multimillion-dollar purse to the city, and that trumps all other considerations, including, apparently, whether it's in remotely good taste to promote a violent thug who differs from other violent thugs only in the thickness of his billfold.

The commission's decision tells us that a profitable professional athlete can do just about anything, including commit multiple violent felonies, and the city's greedheads will welcome him with open arms nonetheless. Several other states had already rejected the idea of allowing another Tyson spectacle within their boundaries but not Washington, D.C. "We took steps that were unprecedented in boxing to make sure that we went above and beyond to make sure this gentleman [ahem] was fit to fight," said Commission Vice Chairman Michael A. Brown, who had been wheedling behind the scenes for months to secure a Tyson cash-in, er, prize fight. Tyson himself promised to give residents "the fight they deserve" though whether it will take place in the ring, or outside of it, remains an open question. Just weeks ago, Tyson once again lost control of himself and precipitated a melee at a press conference that cost him any chance of fighting Lewis in Nevada. Even Las Vegas has some standards but not Washington. The clink of coinage is all the matters.

"There was no illness or disease found that would prevent him from boxing," said the doctor who examined Tyson for the commission. But Tyson's ability as a boxer has never been the issue. The crux of the matter is that Tyson is a rapist, a man who physically lashes out in uncontrolled fits of rage frequenty at people much smaller than he, and often women and who has repeatedly and alarmingly demonstrated his propensity for thuggishness.

Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes said it best recently, describing Tyson as a "sexual predator" unfit for any official endorsement or public accolade.

"All Mike Tyson is asking to do is work in our city, which will help us," said E. Faye Williams, a Tyson supporter who attended the commission's public hearing. "This is not about character. It's about a man's right to work."

Well, no, it's not. It's about a huge payday for bookies and other businesses that stand to profit immensely from a Tyson fight. And it is a tragedy that the D.C. boxing commission could not see beyond the dollar signs and do the right thing by saying thanks, but no thanks, to Tyson.


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