I’ve been a fan of Mike Tyson since I was in primary school. I remember watching some of his fights and playing in the playground pretending I was him and mimicking the knockouts I had seen. I also remember being devastated when he lost his first fight to Buster Douglas. I can still see the slow-motion replays of the punch combination that sent him to the canvas for the first time in his professional career.
Mike Tyson recently published an autobiography called Undisputed Truth, and he was due to fly over to the UK to help promote it. But just weeks before he was due to come over he found out that he was actually banned from entering the UK. Recent changes in the law meant that anyone who had spent over a certain time of jail or had been convicted of certain crimes would be banned from entering the country. Unfortunately for Mike this applied to him. In 1992 he was convicted of raping Desiree Washington and was sentenced to 6 years in prison, serving 3 years for a crime that he still vehemently denies he committed.
I have watched a few documentaries on Tyson, including his recent one which features just him, and I thought I knew most there was to know about him, until I read the book. He goes into a great deal of detail about his childhood, his time with Cus D’Amato, the trainer who took him in and showed him the art of boxing.
He also talked a lot about some of the things he got up to outside of the ring – the many, many women he would have, and the drugs he would take. Sometimes the night before a major fight. If you’re a boxing fan you may remember an incident where Tyson and Lennox Lewis got into a massive brawl at a press conference, and someone in the crowd yelled out to put Mike in a straight jacket. Mike heard this and into a ballistic tirade, challenging the guy to come and say that to his face, that he wasn’t man enough, and that “i’ll fuck you ’till you love me faggot!”. I think this was one of those times when he was probably high on cocaine.
He didn’t talk much about his rape conviction in the book though. According to him, the UK judicial system forbids him from discussing it publicly or writing about it, but he does refer to commentary from others who believe his conviction was bullshit. One of them was a so-called ‘Legal Analyst’ who had written a book about Tyson’s trial and conviction. I can’t remember the name of the book, but I remember looking it up on Amazon as I was interesting in reading it, but the reviews of the book were people complaining about the many typos and poor grammar in the book, and that put me off buying it.
Reading Undisputed Truth, one of the things that really struck me about Tyson was his complete honesty. It was a part of him that I had never really seen. Unless you’ve read the book you really won’t understand what I mean here. He really opens up about everything he’s ever done, all the corners he has cut, the numerous times he not only let himself down but his girlfriends and wives, especially his ex-wife Dr. Monica Turner. So when he insists that he was innocent I believe him, and I always have, even though i’ve never had any proof of this, maybe it was just me being a fan and refusing to believe it. But after reading the book and watching a documentary on YouTube and a few other articles online it was interesting to find out more about those trial proceedings and Desiree Washington herself. The video on YouTube is called ‘What They Didn’t Tell You About Mike Tyson’s Rape Conviction’, check it out for yourself, it’s 27 minutes long.
A few points that really stuck out to me I wanted to share in this post as they are facts that I certainly never knew, and so chances are most people won’t know these either.
Desiree Washington’s legal team depicted her as a good little Christian girl, but this wasn’t the first time she had accused someone of rape. Wayne Walker was Desiree’s boyfriend in high school. When Desiree’s father found out that Wayne had had sex with Desiree he accused him of raping her.
When Wayne confronted Desiree about this she allegedly said that she had to say something to cover herself. Wayne gave a sworn statement, but the judge refused to allow this to be entered as evidence in the court. A couple of the jurors later commented that if they had known about this they would have viewed Desiree differently during the trial and they would have had ‘reasonable doubt’.
Secondly, there were eye witnesses that claim they had seen Desiree willingly making out with Tyson in the limousine before they went up to the hotel room. Tyson’s legal team found 3 female witnesses that saw the two kissing in the limo. But the judge ruled that the defence team presented them too late into the trial and refused to allow their testimony to be included. This is a trial where a well-known and wealthy young man is on trial for a serious crime, and there are witnesses that can provide you with important evidence, but you refuse to listen to what they’ve got to say because of a technicality??
Another thing that came out, that not even Desiree’s own legal team could explain is that apparently whilst in the hotel room, she got up to go to the toilet and took off a panty liner she had on as she was expecting to be on her period soon. This was just after Tyson had told her that she was ‘turning him on’, and her alleged response was that she was ‘not like that’. So why would you then go to the toilet, take your panty liner off, and then return?
Then there’s Tyson’s legal representation. Vincent Fuller, the lawyer tasked with defending Tyson, had been handpicked by Don King and had no previous experience handling cases of street crimes. Since the trial, some of the jurors that convicted him feel he had poor legal representation. Fuller also allowed Tyson to testify in the trial, something everyone believes was a massive mistake.
Bear in mind Tyson was in his early 20s and was still a brash, abrasive, foul-mouthed street kid. Putting him on the stand played right into the hands of the prosecution, who cross-examined him in a way that would provoke him and let the jurors see the ugly side of him. It was baiting a bear.
Tyson could have got out a year earlier from prison if he had changed his plea to guilty, but he refused.
He is a lot calmer and settled these days. He has been married to his current wife Kiki Spicer since 2009, and they have two children together – Morocco and Milan. He has lost weight – he is now a vegan – and lost most of the millions he earned from his fighting days. But he makes a respectable living through his book Undisputed Truth and the Spike Lee directed Broadway show of the same name.
Unfortunately he will still have to live with the stigma of being labelled a convicted rapist, and whenever Tyson hits town to promote his book or show there are usually rape protestors and women’s groups with placards protesting against his presence. It is unlikely the truth will ever come out, unless Desiree decides to confess herself. But I for one think Tyson is innocent.