Atlanta fans gobble up chance to see Tyson

November 21, 1991|By Michael Katz | Michael Katz,New York Daily News

ATLANTA -- Mike Tyson, firmly saying, "I am not going to jail," went to Evander Holyfield's old neighborhood yesterday to distribute turkeys and some fighting words for the heavyweight champ.

While Holyfield was attending a news conference for his fight here Saturday with Bert Cooper, Tyson, 25, admitted that he thought about prison and said he knew even innocent people are sometimes convicted. But he said, "That's what the jury system is for."

"The jury'll know what happened to me," he said while meeting with three reporters on one of the two Team Tyson buses rented for promoter Don King's annual Turkey Tour, donating birds to the needy.

At that moment, King and John Horne, an aide, warned Tyson not to speak even indirectly about the trial on rape charges now scheduled to begin Jan. 27 in Indianapolis.

The former champion received a spectacularly warm welcome when the Turkey Tour stopped at the Bolden Homes. In this project where Holyfield used to live, Tyson and King donated almost 700 turkeys, some wrapped in plastic bags advertising King's card next week featuring Simon Brown against Buddy McGirt. Including donations to the Feed the Hungry program and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, Team Tyson gave out 2,500 turkeys yesterday and at least $40,000 in donations.

Everywhere Tyson went yesterday, he was besieged by women. Some carried notes to give to him, others openly advertised their availability.

"You can knock me out anytime," shouted 32-year-old Mikii Baity.

Tyson looked relaxed and somewhat plump after a month of little exercise because of the torn rib cartilage that forced postponement of his Nov. 8 fight with Holyfield.

The ex-champ seemed genuinely moved by the people lined up to receive the aid.

"I don't really believe people out there want to hurt me," Tyson said when asked about the frequent difficulty of dealing with a star-gazing public.

"Women are my biggest advocates," he said. "I guess they understand women's behavior better than I do."

One woman, handing out pamphlets for a program helping abused women, said Tyson "don't have to rape anyone -- he could have me for free."

Tyson acknowledged that his rib injury has affected his love life. "I can't be acrobatic," he said. "I have to be careful."

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