The Punch Line? A Knockout Debt
After Squandering $400 Million, Tyson Returns to Ring
By Mark Schlabach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 24, 2004; Page D01
At the height of his popularity and fortune, Mike Tyson owned six mansions, two white Bengal tigers and 110 cars, including garages full of Bentleys, Mercedes and Rolls Royces.
But next Saturday night, the former heavyweight champion will enter the ring in Louisville for the first of what could be as many as seven bouts in an unprecedented fight for financial solvency. According to U.S. Bankruptcy Court records, Tyson is $38 million in debt after blowing an estimated $400 million fortune.
According to court records, Tyson was down to his last $1,250 in cash three months ago. Tyson, 38, said all of his houses have been sold or seized and he owns only one car -- albeit a white Hummer SUV, newly purchased but apparently not yet paid for.
Tyson's attorneys recently presented a bankruptcy reorganization plan in New York that calls for the former heavyweight champion to fight as many as seven times in the next three years to help pay off the debt. The first fight is against unheralded British heavyweight Danny Williams.
Tyson owes money to at least 246 creditors, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Screen Actors Guild and dozens of doctors, lawyers and accountants. Tyson owes his ex-wife, Monica Turner, almost $9 million from their divorce, and he hasn't paid $19.4 million in taxes to the IRS, Britain and five states.
"I guess life's lessons have been pretty priceless for me," Tyson said during a recent interview at the Central Boxing Club in Phoenix.
Tyson's reorganization plan is ambitious -- he hopes to earn at least $19.5 million from boxing over the next three years to help satisfy his creditors. Tyson will receive an additional $14 million from his lawsuit against former manager Don King and $4.2 million from the sale of three of his homes, all of which will go to his creditors.
Under the plan, which hasn't yet been approved by a judge, Tyson will be allowed to keep at least $2 million from each of his fights. Although Tyson once commanded $30 million to fight, the $2 million might seem like a king's ransom to him now. According to bank records Tyson's attorneys submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Tyson earned $38.38 during January. His living expenses during that month were more than $407,000.
If the reorganization plan is approved, Tyson will be scheduled to pay $2.475 million in August, followed by six more payments of at least $1.47 million. His largest payment of $4.95 million would be due in January 2006.
"They don't care about me," Tyson said of his creditors. "Nobody wants to hear excuses. They just want to see results -- send us the check."
The bankruptcy documents reveal how Tyson squandered his fortune as fast as he earned it during his rapid climb from the streets of Brooklyn to the biggest draw in boxing history. He will seemingly spend the rest of his controversial career fighting to pay off his debts -- and it doesn't seem to bother him at all.
"I never even think about losing $400 million," Tyson said. "It's hard for you to understand because it's not your lifestyle. I think about everybody I looked up to -- Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, everybody had a great deal of money and lost it. I blew money, and I'm going to get it again. How many times am I going to throw this left hook to get some more money?"
Freddie Roach, who has trained Tyson in Phoenix the past three months, said Tyson's troublesome finances hardly seem to affect the fighter.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company