Published: July 28, 2004
The man sometimes called “Iron Mike” Tyson is also a convicted rapist and a controversial figure, but he says Louisville shouldn’t fear him. On Wednesday, Tyson and other boxers fighting Friday night sat down to talk to the media. WAVE 3’s Craig Hoffman was there.
Since Tyson’s arrival Sunday, security has been beefed up, and it’s going to stay that way until he leaves town.
Just about everywhere Tyson goes, he’s flanked by about a half-dozen police officers. If you’re coming to the fight, expect tight security. And it’s going to be this way until after the final bell rings Friday and the boxers have left town.
Whether speaking to the media or reaching out to fans at 4th Street Live! police and security officers are never far from Tyson and the other boxers.
Most officers escorting Tyson this week are off duty police, earning extra pay from promoter Chris Webb.
“We will have a presence inside, but it will be a presence only,” says Major Mike Dossett, Commander of Louisville Metro Police Operations. He says a few extra officers will be called in Friday at taxpayers expense, but he says a majority are regular on-duty beat officers.
Dossett says some of those will be posted inside Freedom Hall, while the rest will monitor crowds as they arrive and leave the event. “We will be supplementing security with Louisville Metro Police in terms of the venue, surrounding areas, heightening patrols out here. Our mission is to ensure the safety of the crowd that attends.”
The 38-year-old ex-heavyweight champ is used to officers being near him and his entourage. He’s also gotten to know police firsthand over the years, thanks to his reckless and criminal behavior.
His criminal history has certainly attracted attention. He spent three years in an Indiana prison for rape. He bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a bout in 1997, and over the years, Tyson has made controversial remarks.
The convicted rapist says those days are behind him. “I can be just who I am, Mike Tyson, and be more responsible than I have been in the past. I am by no means a domesticated type of person — I am just Mike.”
At Wednesday’s news conference, WAVE 3 asked Tyson about elected officials who spoke out against him. “More power to them,” Tyson said. “I am so appreciative of such formidable foes — governors, senators, and mayors — I feel like Al Capone or something. I feel like a real important person…. These people make a great big thing — they make it as if I’m a bank robber.”
Maj. Dossett says Tyson still attracts enough attention that local police turned to the city he last fought in for advice. “Actually, we reached out to Memphis in terms of the last event … they had a very good event. Certainly this event will follow suit.”
The Tyson-Williams bout may be getting worldwide attention and will bring big thousands to town.. Maj. Dossett says handling crowd control is nothing new. Whether it’s the Derby, a concert — even the state fair, he says there are always plans in place to protect the public.
The Showtime cable network has had cameras following Tyson’s every move. But spokeswoman Marina Capurro says its pay-per-view audience will see more than boxing. “We have a crew that has gone around to different areas like Churchill Downs, Louisville Slugger Museum, so they’ve been doing features about the city.”
Promoters have lowered the number of tickets they plan to sell to about 17,800 due to camera space and an increase in media credentials. Less than 4,000 tickets remain, and a sellout is predicted.
The least expensive remaining tickets start at $75.