Thursday, February 22

Mike Tyson’s alleged punch victim has criminal history, report says

It looks like Mike Tyson is getting some ammunition for his argument that he was justified in unleashing punches on a fellow passenger on a JetBlue flight about to leave San Francisco International Airport.

According to TMZ, the man who got hit by Tyson, Melvin Townsend III, has a long criminal record. Townsend, 36, was harassing the legendary boxer after they boarded the flight bound for Miami and wouldn’t quiet down when Tyson asked him to, TMZ said. Tyson’s representatives furthermore said the man was extremely intoxicated and threw a water bottle at him while sitting behind him.

Video of the incident shared by TMZ showed Tyson, famous for his ferocious, intimidating boxing style, leaning over his seat and repeatedly punching Townsend.

San Francisco police confirmed that a physical fight had occurred at about 10:06 p.m. Wednesday on the plane in the airport’s domestic terminal. Officers arrived and detained two people. Authorities declined to release the names of the two people.

Officials said one person was treated for non-life threatening injuries at the scene and told police “minimal details” about the altercation and refused to cooperate further. Both were released under a section of the California Penal Code that allows officers to release suspects because of “insufficient grounds to file a complaint against that person.”

TMZ reported that Townsend has had prior encounters with law enforcement. “He’s been convicted of fraud, grand theft, burglary, possession of controlled substances and trafficking in stolen property,” TMZ said.

TMZ didn’t say where these convictions occurred but described at least one incident from 2018 when Townsend allegedly broke onto a property and stole a trailer that he hitched to his pickup. TMZ also said the drug possession offense was for oxycodone. Townsend served time twice for his convictions, once for 20 months and the other time for 15 months.

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While Townsend reportedly stayed in San Francisco, Tyson made his way to Miami later Thursday, where he was scheduled to attend a cannabis conference, TMZ also reported. He looked happy when he arrived at the luxury Eden Roc Hotel in Miami, and smiled as he posed for selfies with fans, TMZ added.

The day before, a mellow-appearing Tyson appeared at the 4/20 festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, where he promoted his new line of Tyson 2.0 cannabis-infused edibles.

Tyson’s products include “Mike Bites,” gummies in the shape of little ears — shapes that recall one of the most notorious moments in his career and in professional sports, when Tyson bit off a portion of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a 1997 heavyweight bout in Las Vegas.

“I’m the world champion, and now I’m the world champion of cannabis, and we can’t be stopped,” Tyson told the crowd at Golden Gate Park Wednesday reported. “Look at us. Thousands of people (are) looking at us, and we’re getting high. This is beautiful. … Look at me, baby, look how beautiful I look up here.”

As recently as December 2021, the fighter opened up to Yahoo Finance about how he was “miserable” before he retired from boxing and before he started smoking pot.

During his turbulent life and career, the former heavyweight champion became known for violent and controversial behavior in the ring and out. He spent three years in prison after being found guilty on one count of rape and two counts of deviate sexual conduct in 1992, stemming the assaulting an 18-year-old beauty contestant.

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Tyson told Yahoo Finance that he would take out his anger and misery on others, including fans who asked for autographs. “I was just a mess, and then after I retired, I started smoking (pot),” he said.

Tyson said he wished he had used cannabis instead of drinking alcohol to manage his anxiety.

“I should have smoked when I was fighting because it put me in this different state of mind,” Tyson said. “I’m very relaxed and the more relaxed you are, the better fighter you are at least in my case.”

Staff writer Summer Lin contributed to this report.

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