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The BBC's Graham Satchell
"Wherever he goes crowds and chaos follow"
 real 28k

Ron Shillingford of New Nation
"The black community don't believe that he is a rapist"
 real 28k

Friday, 21 January, 2000, 18:46 GMT
Crowds mob Tyson

Mike Tyson in Brixton A fan reaches out to shake Tyson's hand


Mike Tyson was mobbed by huge crowds during a "walkabout" in Brixton, south London, amid chaotic scenes which forced police to take him into their station for his own safety.

Hundreds of people surged towards the heavyweight boxer, jeering at a massed phalanx of police officers and chanting: "We want Tyson."



These council men can't tell me nothin' I don't know about my brothers
Mike Tyson in Brixton
Eventually he retreated into Brixton police station and addressed the crowd of about 2,000 people using a megaphone.

Reacting to the statement by the local Lambeth Council that he was not welcome because of his rape conviction, Tyson told the crowds: "They say they don't want me here, right? These council men can't tell me nothin' I don't know about my brothers".

He was then whisked away from the back of the station in a police van.

Former world champion boxer Lloyd Honeyghan, who helped to arrange the visit to Brixton, explained to the BBC: "We had to go inside because too many people were here to show him their love."
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He said: "Mike is planning to come back. He loves England and he loves Brixton."

Tyson's visit to the largely black community has been surrounded by controversy.

Lambeth Council said the boxer, who is following in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela by visiting Brixton, was not an inspirational figure or a role model.


Mike Tyson Tyson addressed the crowd from Brixton police station
But fight promoter, Frank Warren, who accompanied Tyson on his brief and chaotic visit to Brixton, said: "The people love him and this is what we are seeing. I don't think it's dangerous, it is just a bit of over-excitement."

Shadow Home Office minister David Lidington has demanded to know how much the operation to police Tyson's visit to Brixton had cost and said the bill should be picked up by the boxer and his promoters.

He said: "The scenes in Brixton this afternoon are bound to raise concern among Londoners who want to see the police out fighting crime, not policing publicity stunts.

"When crime is rising in London and more and more officers are being lost, I find it hard to believe the Met can afford to use its valuable resources in this way."

Before heading to Brixton, Tyson, a Muslim convert, paid a visit to a mosque.

A funeral - of a 19-year-old Kurdish youth killed in a suspected race attack - was delayed for an hour at the Central London Mosque in Regent's Park, as some members of the congregation jostled his minders to get a view of the star.

'Pariah'

Boxing legend Ali was given a hero's welcome when he visited several charity projects in Brixton last year.

But Jim Dickson, leader of Lambeth Council, which covers Brixton, said: "Muhammad Ali was welcomed here as an inspiration and role model to us all.

"Tyson is a pariah and definitely is not welcome here. He has been allowed into the country to train, fight and then leave as soon as possible."

But Ron Shillingford, sports editor of the New Nation, a paper aimed at young black people, said Tyson would be "mobbed" in Brixton.

Boxing promoter Frank Warren Frank Warren: promoting the fight
He said: "Under 25-year-olds have grown up watching Tyson and they adore him. He is their legend.

"He is a rude boy, a street boy, a bad boy and besides being a great boxer he is a human being and has made mistakes and people empathise with him."

Tyson was allowed to enter Britain after Home Secretary Jack Straw overturned immigration rules barring entry to people convicted of crimes which would lead to at least a two-year sentence in the UK.

He is in the UK to fight a non-title bout against British heavyweight champion Julius Francis at the MEN Arena in Manchester on 29 January.

Mr Straw admitted he had made an exception to the rules because many businesses in Manchester faced heavy losses if the bout was cancelled.

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See also:
19 Jan 00 |  UK
Fresh snub for Tyson
17 Jan 00 |  UK
Tyson stays, court rules
11 Jan 00 |  Sport
The ups and downs of Tyson's life
20 Jan 00 |  Sport
Tyson's fight for the right
20 Jan 00 |  Sport
Tyson promises best behaviour
18 Jan 00 |  UK
Team Tyson: Iron Mike's minions
18 Jan 00 |  UK
Tyson shows power of prayer

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