In 1997, World Heavyweight Champion boxer Mike Tyson was fighting a title fight with Evander Holyfield. In one of the oddest things to ever happen during a boxing match, Mike Tyson bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear. This horrific scene continues to be Mike Tyson’s most remembered event in spite of an otherwise amazing boxing career. Mike Tyson offered this apology to the press soon after the fight. He would later apologize directly to Holyfield during an interview on the Oprah Winfrey show, but controversially claimed in a subsequent Oprah appearance that he was not sincere.
Video of Interview on Oprah with Tyson and Holyfield:
Video of Tyson Retracting his Apology on Oprah:
Transcript of Initial Press Conference:
Thank you for this opportunity.
“Saturday night was the worst night of my professional career as a boxer, and I am here today to apologize, to ask the people who expected more from Mike Tyson to forgive me for snapping in that ring and doing something that I have never done before and will never do again.
“I apologize to the world, to my family and to the Nevada State Athletic Commission that has always treated me fairly, to Judge Patricia Gifford, who knows that I am proud to be living up to the terms of my probation. I apologize to the MGM, to Showtime, to Don King, my promoter, to my team and to this wonderful city of Las Vegas that has hosted so many famous boxing events.
“I cannot tell you why, exactly, I acted like I did other than to say that when the butting occurred and I thought I might lose because of the severity of the cut above my eye, I just snapped and I reacted and did what many athletes have done and have paid the price for. You have seen it in basketball with fistfights on the floor and in baseball with riots on the field and even spitting in the face of an official.
“For an athlete in the heat of battle to suddenly lose it is not new, but it’s not right, and for me it doesn’t change anything. I was wrong.
“And I expect to pay the price like a man. I expect the Nevada State Athletic Commission to hand down a severe penalty, and I am here today to say I will not fight it. I only ask that I not be penalized for life for this mistake. I will instruct my managers and promoters to waive any time restrictions so the penalties can begin immediately so that I can show the boxing fans of the world that I am willing to accept what I have coming to me.
“I have also told everyone associated with me that I will not stand for any more of the nasty and insulting comments made to Evander Holyfield and his boxing team.
“Evander, I am sorry. You are a champion and I respect that. I am only saddened that this fight did not go further so that the boxing fans of the world might see for themselves who would come out on top. When you butted in that first round, accidentally or not, I snapped in reaction, and the rest is history.
“To those of you who say that I should never fight again, I can only say that I am just 31 years old, in the prime of my career, and I have made it this far because I had no other way. I grew up in the streets. I fought my way out and I will not go back again. I learned the hard way from the past because I didn’t have the luxury of schools, or people, to help me at a time when I needed it the most.
“And I will learn from this horrible mistake, too. I have reached out since Saturday to ask my God to help me and to renew my faith as a true believer. I have also reached out since Saturday to the medical professionals for help, to tell me why I did what I did and I will have that help.
“Now I will continue to train not just my body but my mind too, so that if it’s possible I can put this behind me and so that I will know that it can never happen again. I only ask that you forgive me as you have forgiven others of us in professional sports so that I can be given a chance to redeem myself when my family, my friends, my doctors and most of all my God tell me I am ready to do so.