Holyfield planning to drop in on old friend Tyson in prison

June 20, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, whose relationship with Mike Tyson dates back to the 1984 Olympic Boxing Trials, said he plans to visit Tyson in an Indiana prison.

"We're friends, and I want to see him, but I don't want to turn it into a media circus," Holyfield said of Tyson, who is serving a six-year term for raping a teen-age beauty pageant contestant. "I'm not sure he'll welcome my visit, but I'd like him to know I'd made the effort to see him."

The two fighters first met in Colorado Springs in the summer of 1984. Holyfield, then a light-heavyweight, would win an Olympic berth, but was forced to accept a bronze medal after being disqualified for hitting a New Zealand rival on the break in the semifinals in Los Angeles.

Tyson was eliminated in the box-offs by Henry Tillman, who won a gold medal as a heavyweight.

"Tyson always amazed me," Holyfield said. "He was a big kid for 16, looking for affection and friendship. We spent a lot of time together before the Olympics. He's a fun person, anxious to please. But if you embarrassed him, he had a quick temper."

Tyson went on to become undisputed heavyweight champion before losing his crown to Buster Douglas in 1990. Holyfield would win the light-heavyweight and cruiserweight titles before knocking out Douglas in his first title defense.

Holyfield and Tyson remained friends and socialized whenever possible. In 1987, they attended a title fight involving former welterweight champion Mark Breland.

"We went to a lot of clubs together in South Carolina," said Holyfield. "Mike drew a lot of attention, but he'd remind everyone that I was a champion, too. He always had a big heart. But he has had a lot to overcome, growing up without a father and being in reform school at an early age."

Holyfield remembers sparring with Tyson once in Colorado Springs eight years ago.

"Mike hit me on the arm so hard, he knocked me clear across the ring. But then I got in some good shots, and our coach, Pat Nappi, made us quit after one round."

* Boxing Illustrated editor Bert Sugar said during the first week Tyson spent in prison, the movie "A Rage in Harlem" was shown. It starred Tyson's ex-wife, Robin Givens.

* Asked to explain his close call against Alex Stewart earlier this year, former heavyweight champion George Foreman, known for his bountiful appetite, said: "I didn't eat enough on fight day. Next time I'll eat three big meals."

He said he thought of putting a steak on his badly battered face after examining it in a mirror following the brutal 10-round match. "But then I ate the steak."

Admitting to now weighing close to 290, Foreman says his personal scale has a taped 217 pounds pasted across its face.

* Asked to name brother George's next possible foe, Roy Foreman said, "We've been trying to get Elvis. He's been dead long enough."

* When the imprisonment of Tyson forced the cancellation of the twice-scheduled fight with Holyfield, the Las Vegas bookmakers also suffered.

Lou D'Amico, the sports book director at Caesars Palace, said a record $100 million would have likely been bet on that match, more than doubling the previous record set by Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler in their middleweight showdown five years ago. D'Amico expected $15-$20 million to be wagered in the state on Holyfield and Larry Holmes.

* Although Holmes weighed in at a flabby 233 Wednesday, this did not trigger a stampede at the betting windows in favor of Holyfield, who was a 6-1 favorite.

"This wasn't anything like when Douglas climbed on the scale and weighed 246 for his match with Holyfield," said Nevada Athletic Commission inspector Marc Rattner, who handled the scales. "There was a horde that immediately took off for the sports books and drastically changed the odds favoring Holyfield."

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