Originally created 02/12/02

Texas Motor Speedway doesn't want Tyson-Lewis fight

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Texas Motor Speedway officials decided against bidding for Mike Tyson's heavyweight title fight against Lennox Lewis.

"Mike Tyson makes this fight undesirable for us," TMS general manager Eddie Gossage said Monday. "We've wound up where I expected it all along. We cannot sell our values. Texas Motor Speedway is a clean-cut, family oriented venue."

Gossage confirmed last week that the track had been in discussions with Tyson adviser Shelly Finkle and Gary Shaw of Main Events, which promotes Lewis. He said he faxed a letter to both on Monday with his decision.

Tyson and Lewis were scheduled to fight April 6 in Las Vegas. But then came a melee at a news conference in New York on Jan. 22, followed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission's rejection of Tyson's license application a week later.

Gossage said he had been told by Finkle and Shaw that the fight was Texas Motor Speedway's if he wanted it. He said the fight would have been a big moneymaker and would have drawn 20,000-65,000 spectators depending on seating configuration.

"Regardless of the money and regardless of the national and the international exposure, regardless of what some consider the upside, the downside overshadows it all," Gossage said.

A Texas lawmaker said last week that Tyson should not be given a license to fight in Texas and questioned whether the boxer would be subject to arrest in Texas. Tyson applied for a license in Texas last week.

Rep. Ray Allen, R-Grand Prairie, said Tyson, a convicted rapist, didn't register with Texas officials as a sex offender when he did some training in San Antonio last spring.

Gossage said he hadn't spoken to Allen. But Gossage said he was told by Dickie Cole, the boxing coordinator in Texas, that Tyson could receive a license to fight in the state.

The Texas application will be decided by Bill Kuntz, executive director of the state Department of Licensing and Regulation. Agency spokesman Kevin Ketchum said no decision had been made Monday. Officials have said there is not timetable for ruling on Tyson's application.

More than 200,000 spectators will be at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7 for a NASCAR Winston Cup race. That's a day after at least half of that number will be there for a Busch race.


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