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Lewis Sues Tyson and King Over No-Show at Staples

The $385-million suit, filed in New York, claims promoter used death threats and bribes.

May 09, 2003|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

Heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis sued promoter Don King and former champion Mike Tyson on Thursday for $385 million.

The suit claims King used death threats and bribery to prevent Tyson from fighting on a June 21 card at Staples Center as part of a doubleheader with Lewis, to prevent Tyson from signing a contract for a rematch with Lewis and to sever Tyson's ties with his management team.

Tyson is considering a King offer to sign with him, according to a source close to the negotiations.

King generated over $100 million for Tyson before the two split six years ago, Tyson claiming King stole millions from him. Tyson sued King for $100 million and that case is scheduled for trial in September.

Last month, promoter Gary Shaw and Tyson's manager, Shelly Finkel, thought they had a deal for Tyson to fight on the undercard of the Staples show against Oleg Maskaev with Lewis in the main event against Kirk Johnson.

But with a news conference scheduled, Tyson disappeared.

According to the suit, filed in the New York Supreme Court, King threatened the life of agent Jeff Wald, a Tyson friend and advisor, and bribed Jackie Rowe, a Tyson female acquaintance, to help keep Tyson in a New York hotel room and convince him not to sign the Staples contract. According to the suit, Rowe was instructed to tell Tyson he would be allowing himself to be treated as "a second-class citizen" if he settled for the semi-main event on the Staples show.

That contract would have included two additional fights followed by a rematch with Lewis, who knocked Tyson out in the eighth round last year in Memphis.

A source says that King also offered Tyson $20 million to sign with him and drop his suit against King.

Although Tyson initially turned King down, the source says that the Lewis suit could push Tyson back in King's direction.

According to Thursday's lawsuit, Lewis lost $10 million by Tyson's refusal to fight at Staples and $25 million when Tyson refused to honor the rematch contract.

The lawsuit also alleges King bought Tyson several cars and registered them under another name to avoid further problems for the former champion with the Internal Revenue Service.

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