Tyson blames 'lies' for his rape conviction

Updated: March 2, 2005, 7:46 PM ET
Associated Press

ROME -- Mike Tyson criticized the U.S. justice system and said "lies'' sent him to prison for three years for rape, during an appearance Wednesday on Italian television.

The former heavyweight champion, who was convicted in 1992 of raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant in Indianapolis, was a guest at a popular Italian music festival.

"I don't respect the judicial system, I think there's a long way to go, even though the United States is a great country,'' Tyson said. "My conviction was based on a lie.''

He said many of America's inmates were convicted unjustly.

"The United States, essentially, is an industry that just wants to put people in jail. They just keep building prisons,'' he said.

Several groups, including an Italian hotline for women to report domestic violence, had asked that Tyson's appearance be canceled. But Fabrizio Del Noce, director of the channel showing the weeklong San Remo Song Festival, declined. He said Tyson had paid his debts with justice.

The rest of Tyson's television appearance was more lighthearted. He started off singing to the tune of a popular Italian song along with the show's host, and ended with a rap version of "New York, New York.''

During his interview, Tyson said he has been training for a match scheduled for June in Washington, D.C., but did not elaborate.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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