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USA Boxing Foundation pays tribute to Mike Tyson in new campaign despite prior rape conviction

The USA Boxing Foundation has launched the “Be Like Mike” campaign to fundraise for the sport. 

Montana Love v Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The USA Boxing Foundation is paying tribute to Mike Tyson in a new campaign despite the former boxing champion’s prior rape conviction.

Entitled ‘Be Like Mike,’ the initiative will run throughout the month of June in the hopes of gaining 100 donors willing to commit $100 to the foundation to “meet its mission to advance boxing as the sport of opportunity.”

The original ‘Be Like Mike’ initiative was part of a Gatorade campaign that took place in 1991 and celebrated legendary basketball player Michael Jordan.

“USA Boxing Foundation is carrying the sentiment forward as a nod to Mike Tyson, not only because he is one of the sport’s greatest of all time, but to highlight his path to the sport, and all that he overcame,” read a statement from the organization.

Mike Tyson rose to fame in 1986 when he beat Trevor Berbick and became, at age 20, the youngest heavyweight champ in boxing history. However, in 1992, the former heavyweight champion was found guilty of raping 19-year-old Desiree Washington. He was given a 10-year prison sentence, with four years suspended. He was eventually released in 1995 after serving three years and continues to maintain his innocence.

“I knew from the start that I’d get no justice,” Tyson wrote in his 2013 book Undisputed Truth: My Autobiography. “I wasn’t being tried in New York or Los Angeles; we were in Indianapolis, Indiana, historically one of the strongholds of the Ku Klux Klan. I had been found guilty by a jury of my “peers,” only one of whom was Black.”

Following his stint in prison, Tyson managed to recapture the heavyweight title in 1996. The following year, Tyson bit off a piece of heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield’s ear, which led to his boxing license being temporarily revoked. Tyson later spent several months in jail for assaulting motorists after a traffic accident.