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MOOD SWINGS : In a TV Interview, Tyson's Wife Says Life Has Been 'Torture . . . Pure Hell'

September 30, 1988|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — Life with heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson has been "torture . . . pure hell . . . worse than anything I could possibly imagine," his wife, actress Robin Givens, says in a taped television interview to be shown tonight at 10, PDT.

She also said that he is manic-depressive.

Describing her husband's "extremely volatile temper," Givens told Barbara Walters of ABC's "20/20": "I think that there's a time when he cannot control his temper, and that's frightening."

With a taciturn Tyson seated next to her on a couch at the couple's home in Bernardsville, N.J., Givens spoke of their recent trip to Moscow and of her husband's behavior while she was filming episodes for the TV show, "Head of the Class."

Walters pressed the Tyson family for details about rumors that Tyson beat his wife and was manipulated by Givens and her mother, Ruth Roper.

"We've read that he's hit you, that he's chased you and your mother around in Russia. That Mike has a very volatile temper. True?" Walters asked.

"Extremely volatile temper," said Givens, smiling. "I think people see that about every 3 months. He's got a side to him that's scary."

When Walters asked Givens if Tyson had hit her, she answered, while firmly nodding her head, "He shakes. He pushes. He swings. Sometimes I think he's trying to scare me.

"There are times when I thought I could handle it, and just recently, I've become afraid. I mean very, very much afraid. For instance, in Russia, I was afraid. Michael is a manic depressive."

Givens, however, gave no indication that she wanted to leave Tyson, whom she married in February.

Givens said the consequences for Tyson would be dire--even life-threatening--if she, her mother and sister left the fighter.

"He would be alone . . . And I don't want that to happen," Givens said, fighting back tears. "He would have gotten so, so bad that I think maybe one day he would have been more deliberate and killed himself or hurt somebody else."

Tyson told Walters that he loves his wife and would not stand in her way if she chose to leave.

"My wife would just have to ask for it and she has every penny I have," said Tyson, a multimillionaire. "She can leave right now . . . take everything I have and just leave. She has the right to do it. She has . . . the power to do it."

Last week, the New York Post quoted Tyson as saying he had been diagnosed as being manic-depressive, a mental disorder marked by wild mood swings.

The newspaper also reported that Tyson had several violent episodes during his recent trip to the Soviet Union and allegedly had chased Givens, Roper and a secretary through their hotel.

The Post said that after returning to the United States last week, Tyson had a tearful talk with Givens, Roper and psychiatrist Henry L. McCurtis, during which Tyson admitted being out of control at times and agreed to undergo treatment.

Tyson, in the television interview, said, "This is a situation in which I'm dealing with my illness."

Givens told Walters that a distraught Tyson called Roper one day "and said he needed help." Givens said her mother arranged for Tyson to see a doctor and receive treatment.

"I don't know what Mike Tyson would be without my mother," Givens said. "What we would be. I mean, she's been the glue that's kept us together."

In Albany, N.Y., however, Camille Ewald, Tyson's surrogate mother, said in a separate interview that he is being held an "emotional captive" by his mother-in-law and has ceased taking medicine prescribed for his manic depression.

Ewald told WNYT-TV that she had spent much of the past weekend with Tyson in Catskill, N.Y., and that the boxer is terribly unhappy with his marriage.

Tyson's manager, Bill Cayton, who also was interviewed for the ABC program, said he did not believe Tyson was a manic-depressive. And Cayton said that if Tyson took lithium to control such a condition, he would not permit Tyson to fight again.

"It's not proper for him to box if he's on a mind-altering drug," Cayton said.

Jack Graham, athletic activities assistant for the New York State Athletic Commission, said Thursday that he did not know if the commission would prevent Tyson from fighting if he were taking lithium. Graham said fighters must inform boxing officials if they are using medication and if they have seen a doctor within a specific time period before a scheduled bout.

A decision on whether a boxer taking lithium could fight would be made by the commission's medical director and the assistant director, Graham said.

Tyson, 22, is the youngest heavyweight champion ever, but his recent life has been a series of misadventures. Earlier this year, he tried to give two New York policemen his $100,000 automobile after a minor accident, and in August he cracked a bone in his right hand in a late-night fight with another boxer, Mitch Green, on a Harlem street.

He was hospitalized with a concussion earlier this month after his car struck a tree. There were reports that he had threatened suicide shortly before the crash.

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