Authorities were investigating on Thursday (Apr 21) after former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson was recorded on video punching a fellow passenger on board a plane at San Francisco International Airport.
The video shows Tyson leaning over the back of his seat repeatedly striking the unidentified man in the head, drawing blood. The footage was first shared by TMZ, which said it was recorded on a Jet Blue plane bound for Florida.
“Unfortunately, Mr Tyson had an incident on a flight with an aggressive passenger who began harassing him and threw a water bottle at him while he was in his seat,” representatives for Tyson said in an email to The Associated Press.
Prior to the physical altercation, the man is seen on the video standing over Tyson’s seat, waving his arms and talking animatedly while the former boxer sits quietly.
San Francisco police responded on Wednesday around 10pm to a “physical altercation” on a plane at the airport’s domestic terminal, officials said.
“Officers arrived and detained two subjects that were believed to be involved in the incident. One subject was treated at the scene for non-life-threatening injuries. That subject provided minimal details of the incident and refused to cooperate further with the police investigation,” police said in a statement on Thursday.
Both were released pending further investigation, the statement said.
Another passenger on the flight, Sarah Burchfield, said she saw the man who Tyson punched at an airport bar earlier appearing loud and quarrelsome.
“When I boarded the flight, I thought, ‘Oh, no, that drunk guy is on our flight,’” Burchfield told SFGate.
Burchfield said when she boarded she passed Tyson’s seat in the first class section of the plane.
“The belligerent guy was sitting right behind him and I saw they were interacting,” she said. A short time later, she heard the confrontation in first class, she said.
San Francisco police said the video has been shared with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction over the airport.
Sheriff’s officials said “we are not releasing information on the incident because it is an active investigation”.
JetBlue didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking additional details.
Since Tyson, 55, retired from boxing, he has worked as an actor, podcaster and cannabis entrepreneur. He was in San Francisco for the annual 420 cannabis festival in Golden Gate Park, where he was promoting his cannabis brand Tyson 2.0, SFGate reported.
Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history in 1987 at age 20. During his career he had 50 wins, 44 of them by knockout.
In the 1990s Tyson served three years in prison after being convicted of rape. He has maintained his innocence in that case.
Tyson was briefly barred from boxing after infamously biting off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a fight in 1997.