BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ World Boxing Council president Jose Sulaiman reaffirmed his faith in Mike Tyson on Thursday and said the former heavyweight champion's Nov. 8 bout with Evander Holyfield is going to be great for professional boxing.

Tyson's challenge for Holyfield's title will be the biggest moneymaker in boxing history, Sulaiman said.

There have been protests over the bout because of Tyson's recent indictment on charges of raping a beauty contestant in Indianapolis.

''I happen to believe and to trust in the innocence of Mike Tyson,'' Sulaiman said.

''Tyson is a hero of boxing. And it is my obligation as president of the World Boxing Council to stand by my hero. And I stand by Mike Tyson absolutely and without any reservations.''

Sulaiman said Tyson has been unfairly targeted by the press because he rose from a rough background to great wealth and fame.

''Boxers are no priests and no college graduates. Boxers come from the slums and the ghettos. And they fight in childhood of poverty and hunger and society rejection. So they like to fight against anything and everyone,'' Sulaiman said.

Sulaiman credited Tyson with boosting the popularity of boxing following the retirements of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard.

Sulaiman is in Bangkok for the WBC convention next week. He said earlier that Tyson has canceled plans to attend, but because he was training hard for the Holyfield fight, not because of his legal problems.

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Jeff Ruland, whose NBA career appeared over in 1987 when knee problems limited him to five games, is working out in hopes of making a comeback at 32.

The 6-foot-10 Ruland, resigned a part-time coaching job at Iona College this year, recently had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is training in New Jersey.

Ruland had practiced at the 76ers' rookie camp in July. General manager Gene Shue called it a longshot for him to play in the NBA again.

''I know Jeff has been working out to try and get his leg back to where he can do normal things,'' Shue said. ''When he was with us to work with the big men, he was having trouble with his leg.

''He's trying to do normal things in life. Who knows what could happen in the future? He was having trouble just getting out on the golf course. But anything is possible.''

Ruland came to the 76ers from Washington in June 1986 with forward Cliff Robinson, in exchange for Moses Malone, Terry Catledge and two first-round draft picks.

He played two games in the 1986-87 season, had knee surgery, then played three games in January.

''You saw George Foreman come back after all those years and he looked pretty good,'' said Charles Barkley of the 76ers.

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NEW CASTLE, Ind. (AP) - A $500 reward is being offered for the return of the Basketball Hall of Fame ring that belongs to former Butler coach Tony Hinkle.

The gold ring, which bears Hinkle's name, was believed stolen from the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame museum. It was taken from its display case earlier this month.

A visitor apparently pried apart two plexiglass panels on the exhibit case, museum director Ron Newlin said.

''Neither the Hall of Fame nor he family is interested in pressing charges,'' he said. ''I suspect that the ring was taken on a lark or a dare, and not as a planned theft. Our only interest is seeing it returned.

''The ring could turn up at a sports collectibles meet. We'll assume that's where the person who returns it got it. No questions asked.''

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WOKING, England (AP) - World champion Ayrton Senna will drive for McLaren- Honda again next season, the British-based team announced Thursday.

On course for his third world title in five years with McLaren, Senna again will team with Austrian Gerhard Berger.

The two are lining up for Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril where Senna will defend an 18-point lead over Britain's Nigel Mansell, who drives for Williams-Renault.

While with McLaren, the 31-year-old Brazilian has won 26 races and 43 pole positions.