The 'Bite Fight' voted 1997's top sports story by foreign media
Dec. 17, 1997
LONDON (AP) _ Chomp.
The ``bite of the century'' between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield was voted the top sports story of 1997 in a worldwide survey by The Associated Press.
In balloting among 50 sports editors from AP subscribers in all areas of the globe except the United States, the bizarre Tyson-Holyfield heavyweight fight was a runaway winner with 328 points.
Points were awarded on a sliding scale of 10 for a first-place vote and one for a 10th-place vote.
The rise of teen-age tennis star Martina Hingis to No. 1 in the world came in second, followed by the selection of Athens as host of the 2004 Olympics and Tiger Woods' sensational Masters victory.
The Tyson-Holyfield fight received 19 first-place votes, 13 more than any other story (Woods was next with six).
Tyson was disqualified after biting both of Holyfield's ears during their June 28 WBA title bout in Las Vegas. The former champion took a piece out of Holyfield's right ear with the first bite. When the fight resumed after a few minutes to treat the damaged ear, Tyson bit Holyfield's other ear.
Tyson was later fined $3 million and stripped of his Nevada boxing license. He can apply for reinstatement next year.
It's the second time in three years that Tyson has featured in the AP's No. 1 sports story _ and fourth time in six years he's finished in the top two.
Tyson's release from jail and return to the ring after serving three years on a rape conviction was voted No. 1 in 1995. Holyfield's 11th round victory over Tyson in their first fight finished No. 2 in the 1996 poll, and Tyson's jailing on the rape charge was No. 2 in 1992.
While Tyson has been a regular fixture in the poll in the 1990s, Hingis appears for the first time.
With Steffi Graf out for most of the year with a knee injury, the ``Swiss Miss'' took over as No. 1 at the age of 16 and won three of the four Grand Slams _ the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Hingis' ascent gained 246 points, only two points ahead of the third-place story: the awarding of the 2004 Summer Olympics to Athens.
The Greek capital overcame its bitter loss to Atlanta for the 1996 games by beating Mediterranean rival Rome and three other finalists in the Sept. 5 vote of the International Olympic Committee.
In fourth place with 219 points was Woods' record 12-stroke victory in the Masters, which made him the first non-white to win a major tournament and sparked ``Tigermania'' worldwide. Woods won four tour events and won more than $2 million in prize money in 1997.
The fifth-place story, with 188 points, was Jacques Villeneuve's championship season in Formula One. The Canadian driver clinched his first F1 title in the season-ending race despite being rammed by rival Michael Schumacher, who escaped without a ban or fine.
Jan Ullrich's dominating victory in the Tour de France, the first by a German rider, came in sixth with 137 points.
The exploits of Denmark's Kenyan-born runner Wilson Kipketer, who broke Sebastian Coe's 16-year-old world record in the 800 meters and went undefeated in 1997, was seventh with 134 points.
The top soccer story of the year was the $55 million transfer deal that took Brazilian superstar Ronaldo from FC Barcelona to Inter Milan, which finished eighth with 116 points.
Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls accounted for the ninth-place story (106 points) by winning the NBA title for the fifth time in seven years.
Qualifying for next year's World Cup in France _ with Italy barely scraping through and Jamaica, Japan and Iran making it for the first time _ was 10th with 105 points.
Other top vote-getters were: the retirements of Manchester United soccer star Eric Cantona (101 points), Carl Lewis (82) and Miguel Indurain (65); Sergei Bubka's sixth straight world pole vault title (100); and Pete Sampras' dominance of men's tennis (81).