MIKE Tyson is expected to criticise his rape victim when the former undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion returns to Glasgow as it prepares to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The American, who was jailed for raping 18-year-old Desiree Washington in the early 1990s, attracted widespread controversy during previous visits to Scotland.
However, Scotland on Sunday has learned Tyson is to return to Glasgow, where he is likely to use a one-man show to claim he was wrongly convicted of the crime. The Undisputed Truth charts the turbulent life of the Brooklyn fighter, who dominated boxing in the late 1980s.
Acclaimed film-maker Spike Lee, the man behind cult movies Malcolm X and Boyz n the Hood, is directing the show that comes to Glasgow in March following a run in New York’s Broadway theatre district. Tyson appears on a bar stool on a darkstage and delivers one-liners about his life and career.
The former champion was reported to have used the Broadway run to claim he had been wronged by his victims, including Washington, whose evidence led to his imprisonment for three years in 1992. His anger is also directed at ex-wife Robin Givens, whose marriage to the boxer in the 1980s was short-lived.
The boxer, who was also jailed for assault in the late 1990s, was reported to have told an audience for his sell-out show in New York that he had wanted to call the play Boxing, Bitches And Lawsuits, but was overruled. Tyson is also said to have told the audience: “Don’t worry. You will all leave here with two ears tonight,” a reference to his biting a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear during their 1997 title fight.
Tyson made a controversial visit to Glasgow in 2000 for a non-title fight with Lou Saverese, despite campaigners going to court to try to block his entry to the UK. There were also protests over another appearance in Glasgow three years ago, when he fronted An Evening With Mike Tyson – an event for sports fans – at a city hotel. However, Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis have suggested Tyson’s planned visit is more offensive because of the style of the performance in a play directed by an acclaimed director.
Campaigners say Tyson’s latest visit to Glasgow ahead of its hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games sends out the wrong message. Tyson’s high-profile appearance also comes during the year of the independence referendum, which will attract interest from the global media.
Scottish Women’s Aid manager Lily Greenan said: “We’d be concerned about the message it gives out, given that Glasgow Rape Crisis went for a judicial review over whether he should come here. It sounds like the play might gloss over things.”
Campaigners expressed disappointment that Tyson was again visiting Glasgow despite the council’s backing for the White Ribbon Campaign – an internationally recognised movement that aims to raise awareness of all forms violence against women.
A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis Scotland said: “Glasgow and Scotland need to showcase and support positive male role models, not convicted rapists.”