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Tyson Loses Temper During Apology

July 30, 1998

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ His spiritual advisor called him charitable. His wife called him a great father and husband. His manager called him remorseful and repentant.

But actions speak louder than words, and Mike Tyson’s showed that the temper that led him to bite Evander Holyfield has not disappeared.

Appearing before the New Jersey Athletic Control Board on Wednesday, Tyson was teary and apologetic one minute, angry and profane the next.

At the end of a 35-minute appearance, his mood seemed to sour after being continually questioned about biting Holyfield’s ears in their title fight last year.

His lawyer, Anthony Fusco Jr., said Tyson would read a closing statement, but the fighter suddenly shook his head.

``I don’t want to say it now, because I’m angry,″ he said.

Sensing Tyson’s mood, Fusco hurried to finish his closing statement.

``What he did was wrong. How many times does one individual have to be asked ... `Are you sorry for what you did?‴ Fusco said.

``You know what I mean, man?″ Tyson said, interrupting his lawyer. ``Why do I got to go through this (inaudible) f---ing all the time?″ he said, hitting the table with his hand.

``Relax, relax,″ Fusco said, putting his hand on Tyson’s shoulder from one side. Lawyer Raymond Redding did the same from the other.

Tyson’s show of anger came after three hours of testimony from his supporters, including his wife, that praised the former heavyweight champion.

Whether Tyson’s temper will cost him the thing he needs most _ a license to resume his career _ is up to the board, which has 45 days to decide.

It will meet Aug. 6 to consider Tyson’s application, but won’t rule then, according to Roger Shatkzin, a spokesman for state Attorney General Peter Verniero.

Tyson bit both of Holyfield’s ears _ taking a chunk out of the right one _ in the June 28, 1997, fight in Las Vegas. That prompted Nevada regulators to revoke Tyson’s license and fine him $3 million, leaving him eligible to apply for reinstatement after one year.

But he reapplied for a license in New Jersey instead, hoping for a return to the ring in Atlantic City. Fusco and others say the 32-year-old fighter has paid his penalty, but some say he should have returned to Nevada to get his license back.

On Wednesday, Tyson was cheered by office workers as he arrived for the hearing, wearing a charcoal gray pinstriped suit and holding the hand of his wife, Monica. There also were some boos from members of the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for Women, who protested his appearance.

In the hearing, he got more bouquets from friends, family members and fighters.

His spiritual adviser, Muhamed Siddeeq, said Tyson was deeply repentant and that he deserved a second chance. His new manager, Shelly Finkel, compared the bite to Roberto Duran’s famous 1981 refusal to continue fighting Sugar Ray Leonard, when he said Duran just snapped.

``He wants redemption. He wants to have the opportunity to go back in the ring. I believe he’s entitled to it,″ Finkel said.

Tyson had offers to fight _ each worth $10 million _ during the one-year hiatus from Russia, Germany, Scandinavia and the Middle East, but turned them down because he wanted to honor the spirit of the Nevada ban, Finkel said.

Psychologist Bert Rotman, who examined Tyson earlier this month for an hour, said he believed Tyson was trying to turn his life around.

``He looks back and realizes he’s made some serious mistakes,″ Rotman said.

When it was his turn, Tyson responded in one-word answers to questions from Assistant Attorney General Michael Haas, most of them having to do with his 1992 rape conviction in Indiana and his application for a New Jersey boxing license.

He told Haas he had broken off his relationship with longtime promoter Don King and that he is no longer under contract with any promoter. But he got more animated when Haas asked what happened in the third round of the Holyfield fight.

``I don’t even know why I bit Mr. Holyfield. I don’t even know how I did it,″ he said.

He said Holyfield had head-butted him in their first fight and that he was doing so again in the rematch. The blows left him disoriented, and he went ``berserk,″ he said.

``I was in a rage. I just snapped. Nothing mattered anymore at that particular moment,″ he said.

Then, pausing to hold back tears, he said: ``I’m sorry for what I did. I wish it never happened. It will haunt me for the rest of my life.″

When Haas asked if it would happen again were New Jersey to license him, Tyson said: ``I doubt it very seriously.″

Asked what he would do if he were fouled again, he said: ``I would hope whoever’s refereeing the fight would do something about it.″

He answered in calm, even tones, giving no indication of the outburst to come.

When the proceeding ended, Tyson’s entourage rushed him out of the hearing room, conferring with him in a conference room before they emerged and Tyson signed autographs.

``I never lost my cool,″ he insisted. ``I was just expressing my hurt.″

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