Mike Tyson Ambushed By Tatchell In Memphis
Tatchell protest persuades Iron Mike to condemn anti-gay discrimination and say he never meant to be homophobic.
Tyson hugs a gay protester and shakes Tatchell's hand.
Mike Tyson was ambushed by British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell as he arrived at a Memphis gym today (Sunday 2 June 2002). Tyson went to the Six50 gym to do a workout in preparation for his world title fight with Lennox Lewis next Saturday, 8 June.
As he got out of his car, Tyson was surrounded by Tatchell and two local Memphis gay and women's rights activists, Jim Maynard and Doug Eddy.
They held signs in front of Tyson reading: "Mike Tyson! Stop your homophobia!" and "Knock out Tyson's sexism and homo hatred".
Maynard shouted: "Stop your homophobia".
Tatchell challenged Tyson to cease his homophobic abuse and make a positive statement supporting lesbian and gay human rights.
Responding to Tatchell's challenge Tyson said: "I oppose all discrimination against gay people, OK".
Tatchell criticized Tyson for having often made homophobic remarks. But Tyson protested that his use of words like "faggots" was not intended as an insult to the gay community: "I've got nothing against gay people", he said.
Tyson declined, however, to give Tatchell an assurance that he would stop using homophobic words like "faggots":
"I might use them (homophobic insults) but I don't mean them".
Tyson then shook Tatchell's hand and a little later reiterated: "I am not homophobic".
In a gesture of reconciliation, Tyson hugged Jim Maynard, the vice-chair of the gay rights lobby Equality Tennessee.
Mike Tyson's confrontation with Peter Tatchell was photographed by Nick Potts of the Press Association in London (020 7963 7000), and filmed by NBC WMC 5 TV in Memphis (001 901 726 0416).
"Tyson's remarks are the first time he has expressed opposition to anti-gay discrimination", said Tatchell.
"He is one of only a handful of world class sports stars who have publicly backed the campaign for gay human rights. Tyson's pro-gay remarks are a major coup for the gay rights movement in the US and the world".
"I hope Mike's remarks are sincere and not just a PR move to persuade us to call off our planned week of five protests against his homophobia and sexism. Our next move will be to request a meeting with Tyson's management. We want a dialogue. If Mike is genuine, we are prepared to reconsider our protests", said Tatchell.
A full transcript of the Tyson-Tatchell exchanges, as recorded by the NBC film crew and transcribed by Philip McClendon of NBC WMC 5 TV in Memphis, follows below.
Further film footage of Tyson leaving the gym and again being confronted by Peter Tatchell and Jim Maynard is available from the US TV networks: ABC TV, CBS TV and Fox News. Footage has also been syndicated to CNN and NNS (Network News Service - 001 404 685 2271). This post-gym footage does not, however, include a repeat of Tyson's earlier pro-gay statements. Only the NBC film shot as Tyson entered the gym has his remarks opposing anti-gay discrimination.
For a background briefing on Tyson's homophobia, see Latest Articles & News Releases on the home page of Peter Tatchell's website www.petertatchell.net
Further information Peter Tatchell 001 901 870 0754 (the best time to phone is 8am to 12 noon Memphis time - 2pm to 6pm London time).
TRANSCRIPT - from NBC WMC 5 TV in Memphis
Sunday 2 June 2002 at 1pm: Tyson's car pulls up outside the Six50 gym and he gets out.
Tyson is immediately rushed by the three protesters - Tatchell, Maynard and Eddy.
Jim Maynard: "Stop your homophobia. Stop your homophobia. Stop your homophobia".
Mike Tyson smiles and walks over. He shakes Maynard's hand and then, smiling, hugs him.
Jim Maynard: "Quit calling us faggots. Quit using faggots".
Mike Tyson: "That's what other people think".
Peter Tatchell: "Can you say something positive, that you oppose discrimination against gay people. That would be great".
Mike Tyson: "I've got nothing against gay people".
Peter Tatchell: "Can you say it to them" (he points to the NBC TV camera).
Mike Tyson: "I oppose all discrimination against gay people, OK".
Peter Tatchell: "Can we shake on this?"
Mike Tyson shakes Peter Tatchell's hand.
Peter Tatchell: "And you're not going to use those homophobic insults any more?"
Mike Tyson: "I might use them but I don't mean them".
Peter Tatchell: "No ... ."
Mike Tyson interrupting Tatchell: "He thinks I'm homophobic" (laughs).
At this point the NBC crew stopped filming.
Mike Tyson continued: "He thinks I'm homophobic (Tyson laughs) ... .I'm not homophobic".
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