Tyson agrees to see psychiatrist Nevada panel wants report on emotional fitness to fight

September 20, 1998|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS -- After hearing favorable testimony at his licensing hearing from two psychologists, Mike Tyson half-joked, For some reason I feel like Norman Bates with all these doctors here," referring to the troubled killer in "Psycho."

But after more than six hours of debate, the five-man Nevada Athletic Commission took Tyson's mental state more seriously.

As a condition of regaining his ring license that was revoked in July 1997 for chewing Evander Holyfield's ears in their championship rematch, the former heavyweight champion will have to be re-evaluated by an independent psychiatrist.

Chairman Dr. Elias Ghanem said Tyson's legal team would be allowed to choose among three psychiatrists or clinics recommended by the commission Sept. 28. They would then consider the chosen doctor's report on whether Tyson was emotionally fit to resume his tumultuous ring career before re-convening in Las Vegas on Oct. 3.

"He's not crazy," psychologist Norton Roitman said after recently examining Tyson. "His problems don't make him unfit to box. I think he can withstand the stress of fighting.

"He's a decent man with a strong code of ethics and regrets his mistakes. I don't believe he would do it [ear-biting] again. He knows people use him. He's desperate to be loved."

But commissioner Dr. James Nave was annoyed by Dr. Roitman's refusal to answer all his questions. He said they would stand for nothing less than full disclosure from the independent psychologist.

When lead attorney Dale Kinsella argued this was a violation of the standard "patient-doctor" privacy privilege, Tyson was asked he would waive this right.

"Nothing about my life is private," he said. "What do you want to hear? Let's get it done."

Despite pleading financial distress including owing $13 million in taxes, and claiming to have lost a potential $40 million in purses during his 15-month banishment from boxing, Tyson failed to win the commission's sympathy. Nave noted that Tyson might have been able to resume his career earlier this year if his new boxing adviser Shelly Finkel had not sought to circumvent Nevada's ban by applying for a boxing license in New Jersey in July.

In addition, the Nevada Commission viewed this maneuver as a means to disregard Sen. John McCain's federal boxing bill that urges all state commissions to recognize another state's suspension.

Seeking a loophole, Finkel had argued that Nevada had revoked rather than suspended Tyson in order to fine him $3 million -- one-tenth of his $30 million purse.

Finkel took the full blame yesterday and said it was Tyson, who personally ordered the withdrawal of his license request in New Jersey.

Far more damaging to Tyson's appeal yesterday were two assault cases pending in Maryland.

One involves an alleged altercation with two Baltimore area women in a Georgetown bistro last March. Tyson has yet to give a deposition although Kinsella dismissed the assault charges as bogus and claimed one of the women provoked Tyson by throwing hot coffee in his face.

More troublesome to the commission was Tyson's alleged assault on two Maryland motorists near Gaithersburg on Aug. 31 after a three-car collision. One motorist claimed Tyson punched him in the face, and the second said he was kicked in the groin.

Tyson has been ordered to appear at a preliminary hearing in Montgomery County District Court on Oct. 2. If found guilty, he could face a new jail sentence for assault and violating his probation after spending three years in an Indiana prison for rape.

"Frankly, this car incident troubles me," said commissioner Luther Mack, seeking more information on the accident than offered by Kinsella's preliminary report.

Kinsella argued that it was unconstitutional for the commission to presume Tyson guilty before the case was heard in Maryland, but the Nevada commissioners were obviously hoping to learn if this was just another case of the fighter's inability to control his rage.

Pub Date: 9/20/98

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