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Boxing World Saddened, Many Blacks Angered By Sentence With PM-Tyson, Bjt

March 27, 1992

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ While Mike Tyson stood calmly as a judge sentenced him to six years in prison for rape, boxing officials expressed sorrow and local blacks anger at the fall of one of the sports’ biggest stars.

″He would have gone down in history as one of the world’s greatest boxers. He rose up quick, real quick, but he fell down even faster,″ said Kevin Rooney, Tyson’s former trainer. Rooney helped Tyson become, at age 20, the youngest world heavyweight boxing champion. He lost the title in 1990.

Superior Court Judge Patricia Gifford on Thursday ordered Tyson to prison immediately, saying she feared he could rape again. Tyson’s lawyers asked an appeals panel to free him while his conviction is appealed.

″There’s a touch of sadness in the air. It’s just a very sad day,″ said Steve Griffith, a spokesman for Madison Square Garden Boxing.

Desiree L. Washington of Coventry, R.I., the Miss Black America contestant who said Tyson raped her last summer, wasn’t in court.

″This child has no feeling of happiness or elation,″ said Deputy Prosecutor Barbara Trathen, who called to tell her. ″It will take months just to get back to normal.″

Miss Washington, 19, could not be reached for comment. Officials at Rhode Island’s Providence College, where she is a student, said her mother had asked that her privacy be protected.

″I think she feels that justice has been done,″ Prosecutor Jeffrey Modisett said.

Many in Indianapolis’ black community disagreed.

″We had a lot of comments today that a black cannot get a fair trial in Indianapolis,″ said Amos Brown, the manager of black-oriented station WTLC.

Both Tyson and Miss Washington are black.

The Rev. S.R. Shields, local chairman of a nationwide ″Mercy for Tyson″ drive organized by black ministers, said he gave the judge a petition with the signatures of 30,000 people.

″This is a cause that will go on,″ he vowed.

But an Indianapolis woman who led a counter-petition drive said Tyson should have gotten a tougher sentence.

″If the man gets help, OK. But I doubt he’ll get much help in three years,″ said Carlin Chapman.

Tyson could be out in three years with time off for good behavior, and Rooney said it’s possible he could make a comeback.

″It’s too early to make a prediction, but if he trains and keeps in shape, sure, maybe,″ he said.

Elias M. Cordova, who heads the World Boxing Association, said WBA rules prohibit convicted felons from fighting professionally.

″I am very sorry about what happened,″ he said. ″The career of a great boxer has ended.″

Bill Cosby, an acquaintance of Tyson, said he hoped the boxer could get psychiatric help.

″It would be very honorable for the state of Indiana to allow this prisoner to be rehabilitated while he is serving his debt to society,″ Cosby said from Dallas.

Update hourly