Mike Tyson rape accusations headlines took the sports world by storm in 1991.
Although the troubled fighter had already established a laundry list of run-ins with the law by this point of his career, a charge like this far outweighed earlier accusations of assaulting a parking attendant outside an L.A. nightclub and grabbing the breasts of a woman in public.
Once owning a 37-0 record and being unbeatable in the ring, the Hall of Fame heavyweight met his match on July 18, 1991. That’s the evening he met Desiree Washington, a Miss Black America contestant at her rehearsal. Washington, young and naïve accepted an offer to go to Tyson’s hotel room that same night.
Four days later on July 22, the pageant contestant filed a formal complaint to law enforcement officials accusing Tyson of raping her.
In early September that same year, Tyson denied any wrongdoing and said any contact with Washington was consensual. After weighing in on both of the sides involved in that evening’s meeting, Tyson was indicted by a grand jury for rape.
The fighter would then have to fight the toughest battle of his career. After cheesing for a mugshot and getting booked in Indianapolis, Iron Mike was released after forking over $30,000 cash to pay his bond.
Tyson received little support and public outcry reached huge proportions since “The Baddest Man on the Planet” had developed a reputation of raucous behavior and accusations of violence prior to this arrest.
On February 10 in one of the most memorable verdicts in sports history, Tyson was found guilty on one count of rape and two counts of deviate sexual conduct and sentenced to ten years in prison. The judge presiding over the case suspended four years of that term and Tyson was thrown behind bars to serve the remaining amount of the sentence.
Tyson who was born in Brooklyn, was no stranger to being incarcerated. As a young teen, he spent time in reform schools before pursuing a life in boxing at the age of 13.
After spending several years in prison, including 15 additional days for an altercation with a prison guard, Iron Mike was released and went on to rekindle his career as a fighter.