ENDORSEMENT

Tyson Ready to Enter The Ring for Steele

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By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson says he is so bullish on Republican Michael S. Steele's campaign for the U.S. Senate, he would return to the ring if Steele thought it might help him.

"I would do anything to help Michael," Tyson said in a telephone interview Monday night after holding a news conference in Ohio wearing a Steele T-shirt. "I would box an exhibition for him. I would even fight again to help Mike. I would do anything."

Iron Mike's little-known but long-standing devotion to Steele dates to the boxer's former marriage to Steele's half-sister, Monica Turner.

Tyson and Turner met in 1990 at a party at comedian Eddie Murphy's house and married in 1998, after the boxer's rape conviction. Turner flew to Indianapolis almost every two weeks to visit him in jail. Tyson and Steele remained close even after the couple's divorce.

"I always considered him a brother," Tyson, 40, said. "He's a remarkable human being."

The ringing endorsement, coming in a heated race between Steele and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D), arrived uninvited and wasn't exactly cherished.

Steele's campaign refused to make the candidate available to discuss his friendship with the boxer. Asked to comment yesterday, Steele spokesman Doug Heye responded by e-mail, "Mike Tyson is the father of the Lt. Gov's niece and nephew and therefore a member of his family."

A Tyson endorsement brings some of the heavy baggage from the boxer's checkered public life, including the rape conviction and that small matter of his biting off a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear.

Not all of Tyson's controversies are in the past. Yesterday, while clad in the Steele shirt, he proclaimed his desire to fight women for money.

"This is not an endorsement you'd put up on the Web site," University of Maryland politics professor James G. Gimpel said, laughing.

But Steele has said nothing to belittle his friend. In an interview with the New York Times, Steele said he would "welcome in a heartbeat" the boxer's help, although Tyson has not done anything official for the campaign.

"He may be divorced from my sister, but I can't cast him aside," Steele told the Times. "You embrace. You love. . . . I've never sat in judgment of him, and I never would."


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