Now Vs Iron Mike Tyson
July '98

In one corner, we have former heavyweight champion, Iron Mike Tyson, standing 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing about 220 pounds. In the opposite corner, we have the National Organization for Women, weighing in with over 1 million members and counting.

This bout the "mother" of all battles could halt the re- start of the former heavyweight champions boxing career. The Southern Nevada Chapter of the National Organization for Women just announced a nationwide letter writing campaign to try and block Tyson from getting his boxing license reinstated by the Nevada Athletic Commission. The Nevada Athletic Commission on July 11 banned Tyson from boxing for one year, last year, after he bit heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield in the ear in a boxing match. He can apply to get his license reinstated anytime after July 11, but it seems that NOW wants to stop this by swaying public opinion.

"We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to strike a decisive dual blows against violence towards women and un-sportsmanlike conduct at the most prominent level of sports in our country," reads a NOW fax. "On July 11, 1998, Mike Tyson will become eligible to apply to the Nevada Athletic Commission for a new license. Without that license, Mike Tyson will not be allowed to box anywhere in the United States." Although the NOW's national office in Washington D.C. hasn't endorsed the letter writing campaign yet, they have been supportive according to Anne Golonka, the president of NOW's Southern Nevada chapter. "Mike Tyson is an inappropriate person to have in the boxing ring," said Golonka, who has now become a boxing and morality expert. "I think that better people should be involved in boxing, and he needs to accept responsibility for his actions."

When told that Tyson paid his debt to society regarding his time spent in jail for his rape conviction, which many people felt was unjust, and he is currently finishing up his boxing suspension, Golonka said she wanted to see more remorse. She also said that Tyson's rape conviction was not an isolated sexual incident. I then asked Golonka, why her local branch and NOW's national branch hasn't expressed this same type of emotion regarding President Bill Clinton's vast sexual allegations that seem to spring up every other month, she told me that "politics makes strange bed fellows."

Her response and NOW's latest action is puzzling to me considering all of the serious issues that effect women in this country such as welfare to work programs, child care for children and business development? Is the boxing reinstatement of Tyson, the only issue that NOW and the women's movement can get motivated for?

Yes according to Ishmael Reed, an author and cultural critic. He called NOW a "white supremacist organization." "NOW better known as the white middle class movement, is the enemy of black people," said Reed. "If Susan Smith wouldn't have confessed, NOW would have backed her against the phantom black men that kidnapped her children." Reed said "black feminists have been calling white feminist racists for over 100 years" and this is another example of this.

"White feminist are becoming the new oppressors," said Dr. Julia Hare of the San Francisco based Black Think-Tank. Dr. Hare said this latest action by NOW, which she said was racist, was one of the reasons that a majority of black women have rejected the feminist movement and organizations like NOW. "Black women have seen this feminist farce," said Dr. Hare. "They have seen racism much more than their oppression as a women."

Dr. Nathan Hare, of the Black Think Tank, said NOW's action has nothing to do with Tyson's biting of Holyfields ear. He said the organization is still angry about the Tyson and Desiree Washington scenario, in which he feels Tyson was framed. "NOW is not concerned about black women, but they use the black man as there antagonist," said Dr. Nathan Hare. "All you have to do is look at the structure in their organization. In last 20 years, they have had one black president Aileen Hernandez and when she quit her post as president she said NOW was racist."

Mark Ratner, the executive Director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, said he isn't surprised by this recent NOW letter campaign, because "in the USA, everyone has an opinion." He said he has received pro and anti-Tyson letters, but it will be up to the five state commissioners to decide if Tyson will be reinstated. He said he hopes the commissioners won't be persuaded by public opinion, but they should instead look at Tyson's actions since he was suspended.

"It is something about Mike (Tyson) that makes him receive publicity, but he is charismatic in his own special way," said Ratner. I was in Las Vegas a few years ago when Tyson got out of Prison and fought Peter McNeely. Before the bout, the same Southern Nevada branch of NOW, were in front of the fight venue with ten to fifteen white women picketing when the national camera and television crews arrived on the scene. After the camera and television crews left, the NOW picketers left. So I consider this recent news coming out of this NOW chapter and the national office a publicity and fund raising stunt that can unfortunately ruin someone's career, who has already paid his debt to society. "If they succeed in depriving Mike Tyson of his opportunity to fight and make a living, then African Americans should run NOW out of business and they would fine a lot of allies," said Reed, and I happen to second his motion.

Lee Hubbard can be reached by e-mail at

written by
Lee Hubbard

For interview requests, questions or comments call Lee Hubbard at (415)671-0449 or e-mail him at
Look at your nearest newsstand for his profile on Latrell Sprewell in the premiere issue of the Source Sports magazine and his profile on Ishmael Reed in the April/May issue of American Visions Magazine.

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