Tyson Fight in the District?
With Michael Brown
Vice Chairman, D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2002
The D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission gave its initial blessing Tuesday to the license application of boxer Mike Tyson, a major step toward a heavyweight title bout with reigning champ Lennox Lewis at MCI Center. The three-member commission unanimously welcomed Tyson's application at a time when four states have opposed bids by the boxer. A formal vote is scheduled for March 12.
Michael Brown, vice chairman of the commission, was online Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 3 p.m. EST, to discuss the controversial preliminary decision.
The D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission consists of three public citizens of the District of Columbia who have an interest in serving the boxing industry. The mayor of the District appoints the three-member commission based on members' abilities, experience and interest in serving the public.
The transcript follows.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
Seattle, Wash.: On what basis did you determine that Tyson deserved a license. What would have, or has, prevented you from granting a license in the past?
Michael Brown: We have actually been looking to get this fight for some time. It was only until recently when the developments in Nevada occurred did we then realize that we were in the running to host the fight.
Washington, D.C.: What will be the date, time and place of the public hearing and public vote that must take place before Tyson's license can become official?
Michael Brown: We have regularly scheduled meetings the second Tuesday of every month and we have already raised the issue in the February meeting and we will raise it again in the March meeting.
Washington, D.C.: What are the figures? Just how much money would the city gain by hosting the fight?
Michael Brown: We don't know yet. Once we do the calcuations with the tax and revenue people then we'll have a better idea of what the number will be. Plus, we have to include the restaurant, hotel and other tourism attraction estimates.
Colorado Springs, Colo.: Have you spoken with the Lewis camp in order to guage their interest in this fight?
Michael Brown: Yes, as a matter of fact we have a meeting with them next week here in Washington.
Olney, Md.: What do you think you saw that the other boxing commissions did not see? Do you really think that Tyson can and will control himself enough to actually complete a boxing match without being disqualified? And what impact do you think it would have on the sport in the District if the fight was ended after only a few seconds due to one of his violent, erratic fits?
Michael Brown: Obviously those are things that we are concerned about and we have just got to hope that that does not occur.
Washington, D.C.: Please explain your role in negotaiting with the Tyson camp before the fight has been approved.
Michael Brown: Our job was really to sell them on what a wonderful city this is to host a world championship fight. In addition to making sure the proper applications and documentation are done properly between the city and the proposed applicants.
Sulphur Springs, Tex.: Are we wrong to believe that this is about anything but money?
Michael Brown: No. You're not wrong but we look at money in a different way. We look at it as people who have been out of work in the hospitality industry. We look at the money to restaurants and hotels and a hopeful boost to the local economy.
Washington, D.C.: How will you guarantee that the violence associated with Mike Tyson events will not occur here? Who will pay for the security in and out of the ring?
Michael Brown: Execllent question. And we will deal with that as we go through this process.
Washington, D.C.: How do the DC's Boxing Commission guidelines/rules differ from those in force in the states that have already turned away Tyson? That is - how much worse would his behavior, reputation, and criminal record have to be for the D.C. Boxing Commission to deny him a license to fight here?
Michael Brown: Another excellent question. We did not think it was our responsibility to tell someone they could not earn a living. There is no moral clause in our application process. It is up to other authorities within the judicial process that could determine whether he fights or not.
Gettysburg, Pa.: Is there any possible way to get tickets to this event if it occurs. Will tickets only be available to people who know people?
Michael Brown: No, I imagine there'll be a large block of tickets available for the general public.
Washington, D.C.: Mr. Brown - Have you gauged in any way the D.C public's perception or attitudes in relation to this potential championship fight?
Michael Brown: Yes, there's a lot of opposition to the fight but there's a whole lot more support for the fight, as we expected.
D.C.: Seems to me that the only ones who are saying they do not want the fight in their backyards are governors and congressmen. Since D.C. doesn't have either but is home to the federal government, do the congressmen have any authority here to tell us not to host the fight?
Michael Brown: No, not that we're aware of.
Rockville, Md.: When will tickets go on sale and how much are they?
Michael Brown: Too premature. Don't know yet.
Washington, D.C.: Promoters are notorious for exaggerating the economic impact of a sporting event. If this fight is allowed to occur in DC, will you require the promoters to post a bond guaranteeing that DC does make the promised windfall?
Michael Brown: Again, a little premature and those things will be discussed during the negotiations.
Arlington, Va.: How serious is Lenox Lewis when he says that "Mike must get counseling" before the fight can happen? Is this something that could potentially keep the fight from taking place?
Michael Brown: We don't have a psychiatric report requiremnt on our application but theoretically Mr. Lewis might decide not to fight Mr. Tyson but that would have nothing to with us.
Adams Morgan, D.C.: Does the commission have bylaws that state who may and may not receive licenses to box in the District? Are these bylaws available to the public?
Michael Brown: Yes, the bylaws are available and that's why the commissioners are appointed to make decisions like that for the city.
Arlington: Claire Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer put it best in a column this morning, when she said holding the fight is tantamount to giving booze to an alcoholic. Mike Tyson needs help, and the last thing he needs is to step into the ring. Does DC really want to equate itself with the leeches who claim to be Mike Tyson's "posse," standing by and making money off of this walking disaster of a human being? I'm disgusted.
Michael Brown: The beautiful thing about America is we can decide what we would to watch or what we would like to do. Please feel free not to watch the fight if you don't agree with our decision.
Fairfax, Va.: Do you think that Mike Tyson will loose against Lennox Lewis? How long do you believe this match will last considering Tyson's previous matches which some lasted only a few minutes?
Michael Brown: That is the beauty of boxing. We won't know until we know.
Washington, D.C.: A lot of D.C. residents, myself included, find the idea of Tyson fighting in D.C. to be a public relations nightmare for D.C. We're slowly emerging from the graft and violence of the Mayor Barry years, only to go on a worldwide stage showcasing Mike Tyson and his entourage. Perhaps this fight would be more palatable to people if a significant percentage of the proceeds could go to local battered women's shelters or such. Any thoughts on that?
Michael Brown: That's a great idea and we might propose that.
McLean, Va.: Since this fight has been so highly controversial, can we expect to pay extraordinary ticket prices when it does come to town?
Michael Brown: Don't know yet. Too premature to tell.
Potomac, Maryland: This is absolutely very "un-American" to deny Tyson the right to fight based on his past rape conviction. He has served time for his crimes and has a right to pursue his professional aspirations.
Michael Brown: We agree. We did not think it was our right to tell him he could not earn a living.
Washington, D.C.: How do you respond to women in the district who believe that supporting a convicted rapist and suspected serial sexual offender is a slap in the face to every woman who has ever been a victim of sexual assault in the District of Columbia?
Michael Brown: I agree with you. In this case, however, we will use the negative to create a positive which will boost the local economy.
Washington, D.C.: Mr. Brown, I believe that the public outcry will eventually persuade you that if Sin City doesn't want Tyson, neither should any other city in America, let alone our nation's capital. Inviting Tyson here sends the wrong message (i.e. when in need, it's ok to compromise your values), and could only elevate him in the eyes of our youth. I hope you get a hundred messages like mine today, and that you give them careful consideration. Thank you.
Michael Brown: Thank you for your comment but Sept. 11 changed a lot of things, including the economy in this city, the jobs that were lost and if this can help get the economy back on its feet, we think the positives outweigh the negatives.
Michael Brown: We appreciate all of the interest on this matter and we will continue to hear all of the opposition and all of the support. Thank you again.
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