Publish date:
Updated on
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1992

Boxing legend convicted of raping beauty queen

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, accused of raping 18-year-old beauty-pageant contestant Desiree Washington, is found guilty by an Indiana jury. The following month, Tyson was given a 10-year prison sentence, with four years suspended.

Mike Tyson rose to fame in 1986 when he beat Trevor Berbick and became, at age 20, the youngest heavyweight champ in boxing history. Born June 30, 1966, in Brooklyn, New York, Tyson had a troubled childhood and was sent to reform school in upstate New York. There, his boxing talent was discovered and he flourished under the tutelage of legendary trainer Cus D’Amato. Tyson turned pro in 1985 and the following year became heavyweight champ, a title he retained until 1990, when he was upset by James “Buster” Douglas.

In July 1991, Tyson met Desiree Washington at a rehearsal for the Miss Black America pageant in Indianapolis. Washington accompanied Tyson back to his hotel room, where, in the early hours of July 19, he allegedly raped her. Tyson claimed the sex was consensual. The world-famous fighter was indicted by a grand jury in September of that year and convicted in February 1992. In March, he began serving his term at the Indiana Youth Center near Plainfield, Indiana. While in prison, he reportedly studied Islam and the writings of Mao Zedong and Malcolm X. He was released, after serving three years, in March 1995.

Post-prison, Tyson briefly recaptured the heavyweight title in 1996. However, the notorious pugilist continued to court controversy. In 1997, during a bout against Evander Holyfield, Tyson bit off a piece of the heavyweight champ’s ear; as a result, his boxing license was temporarily revoked. Tyson also had run-ins with the law and spent several months in jail for assaulting motorists after a traffic accident. Additionally, he battled drug addiction and faced financial problems after squandering the multi-million dollar fortune he had amassed. Tyson’s professional career ended in 2005, when he quit during the middle of a bout against Kevin McBride.

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