WASHINGTON – Mike Tyson made headlines Monday after telling reporters that he wanted to fight women during his forthcoming exhibition tour. For Marylanders, the real surprise was that he said it wearing a blue-and-white Michael Steele for Senate T-shirt.
Tyson, 40, who is Steele's former brother-in-law, pointed to his shirt and said, "We have to open our eyes more," at a press conference in Ohio for "Mike Tyson's World Tour," the Associated Press reported.
The tour, which Tyson said was for gags and charity, and may include bouts with women, begins Friday with him facing a former sparring partner at the Chevrolet Centre in Youngstown, Ohio.
While Tyson was touting his show, Tyson's old promoter, Don King, was stumping for Steele in Maryland around a Largo shopping center and Baltimore.
Both boxing industry celebrities, despite their differences — Tyson has blamed King for upending his career and sued him for $100 million in 1998, later settling for $7 million — carried the same message: African-Americans shouldn't reflexively vote for Democrats.
The former heavyweight champ, who served time in prison for rape in the 1990s and bit off a chunk of boxer Evander Holyfield's ear in 1997, told reporters he used to think black Republicans were "sellouts," but he had a change of heart after researching the lieutenant governor, the AP reported.
Tyson's promoter, Sterling McPherson, did not return calls Tuesday.
Steele's camp said Tyson was not involved in Steele's campaign for U.S. Senate.
"Mike Tyson is the father of Michael Steele's niece and nephew and therefore a member of his family," Steele's spokesman, Doug Heye, said in an e-mail. "He is not connected to the campaign."
Steele's sister, Monica Turner, was married to Tyson for five years. They divorced in 2003.
Steele struck a warmer tone earlier this year when asked about his former brother-in-law in an interview with The New York Times Magazine published in March.
"Let me tell you about Mike Tyson," Steele said. "He is one of the most engaging and smartest guys I have ever had a chance to go toe to toe with in a debate."
When Tyson asked Steele if he could campaign for him, Steele responded that he would "welcome in a heartbeat" the help.
"He may be divorced from my sister, but I can't cast him aside," Steele told the Times Magazine. "You embrace. You love. He is the father of my nieces and nephew. I've never sat in judgment of him, and I never would."
Capital News Service contributed to this report.