Extravagantly ensconced in his suite here at Paris’s Raffles Hotel, Mike Tyson is still imprisoned by his past. We had been due to meet at a gym in London’s Westbourne Park before a change in UK immigration laws, barring any person who has served more than four years in prison from entering the country, brought this week’s ignominious retreat to the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe.
“So disappointing,” he sighs, conscious that his six-year sentence for the rápe of beauty queen Desiree Washington has left indelible shame. “I’m emotionally attached to the UK. I remember when I did my meet-and-greets there in the late Nineties — oh man, I was financially destitute and they were just blessings in disguise. I owe a huge debt to people there I can never repay.”
Tyson would like nothing better, either today or in his searing autobiography Undisputed Truth, than to document the precise events of July 19, 1991, when Washington testified that he had taken her back to his room at the Omni in Indianapolis and raped her.
The British legal system, much to his rage, affords him no such privilege and any accounts of the incident in the memoir have had to be redacted.