Mike Tyson lauds Dubai while promoting boxing gym franchise

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson has told The Associated Press that a city like Dubai can show people the best of the Middle East, its people and Islam.

Speaking from a penthouse overlooking Dubai's man-made Palm Jumeirah archipelago, Tyson on Thursday praised the sheikhdom as "a party place, a place you have a good time at. This is like New York, man!"

He says that contradicts some negative perceptions of the Mideast.

Tyson converted to Islam while serving prison time in the 1990s over rape charges. He says he has performed the hajj pilgrimage required of all Muslims, as well as other trips to holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

Tyson is in Dubai to announce the start of a project franchising Mike Tyson Fitness & Boxing Academy locations worldwide.