Tyson squandered fortune with lavish spending

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 6, 2003

NEW YORK -- A diamond necklace worth as much as some houses. More than $300,000 in limousine rides. Sixty thousand dollars worth of rugs.

Mike Tyson's Manhattan bankruptcy filing lays out the surprising ease with which the former heavyweight champion burned through hundreds of millions of dollars during his career.

Tyson, 37, now has pegged much of his hope for financial resurrection on a lawsuit against Don King, according to the filings.

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''There's no question that the lawsuit could potentially be the largest asset of his estate,'' Tyson attorney Debra Grassgreen said.

Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champ at 20, grossing an estimated $300 million in the ring over the years. He is suing his former promoter for $100 million.

The boxer describes the litigation as part of his ''substantial intangible assets'' in a filing that traces the arc of his career beginning with the words, ''I am a professional boxer and a former heavyweight champion of the world.''

It goes on to recount his rape conviction, the 1997 bout when he bit Evander Holyfield's ears, and alleged financial mismanagement by King, whose spokesman did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The filing catalogues numerous claims against Tyson, including millions of dollars in back taxes, lawsuits, child-support payments and more spending on luxury goods than many people make in a lifetime.

Tyson, for example, owes $308,749.60 to CLS Transportation, a limousine company that charges about $100 an hour for the eight-person stretch limos that Tyson favors, the company's chief operating officer, Leon Reitzenstein, said Tuesday.

The debt has been incurred since Tyson's loss to Lennox Lewis in Memphis, Tenn., last year, Reitzenstein said.

''He has been with us for quite some time. He is a good client. We have no reason to believe that he'll leave us hanging,'' Reitzenstein said.

Tyson filed for Chapter 11 protection Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.

Grassgreen said there are so many lawsuits filed by and against Tyson that it's nearly impossible to accurately describe his current financial status.

''It's very difficult to tell what the actual assets and liabilities are,'' Grassgreen said, although both categories almost certainly are in the tens of millions of dollars.

Tyson's debts are largely the doing of former managers and associates who mishandled his money, said his spokeswoman, Raymone Bain.

''Mike Tyson's personal expenditure has been far exaggerated,'' Bain said. ''What has been expended on his behalf is triple, quadruple what Mike Tyson has personally spent.''

Tyson is optimistic that he will be able to reorganize and pay his debts, Bain said.

''It's going to require some real work on his part,'' said Sandy Ain, attorney for Tyson's ex-wife Monica Turner. ''It's clear that he has eroded an astounding amount of money over recent years.''

Included in the ''astounding'' category is Tyson's purchase last year of a 40-inch white gold necklace with 80 carats worth of diamonds from a Las Vegas jewelry emporium. The tab: $173,706.05.

''We've developed very good relations so I don't believe he'll stiff me with it,'' said Mordechai Yerushalmi, owner of The Jewelers. ''Compared to all the purchases he's made with me over the years, it's very little.''