Just weeks after announcing his newest venture as a boxing promoter, Mike Tyson is already being accused of trying to coax the best amateur boxers in the US to turn pro as opposed to competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the Associated Press reported.
Dr. Charles Butler, the head of USA Boxing, wrote a letter to Tyson insisting that he let some of the country's most promising boxers develop before signing them to lucrative deals to his recently launched Iron Mike Productions. Butler said that the money Tyson is currently offering to amateurs is “pennies on the dollar” compared to their potential value should they bring home a medal.
“Mike, USA Boxing does not have the funds to compete with your offers,” Butler wrote. “If you have money and would like to assist these young athletes and the sport, you should donate for athlete stipends to support the training of these boxers and help your country regain its prominence on the medal stand. Please do not take them from us. If they win a medal for their country, you can always sign them to professional contracts at that time.”
At the heart of the matter is Tyson's goal of signing the most promising teenagers, who also happen to be the US's best chance at medaling. Tyson's team recently announced the signing of 18-year-old Erickson Lubin, a two-time Junior Olympic national champion.
As the allure of Olympic boxing has faded (Andre Ward was the last American to win gold in 2004), promoters have, understandably, sought to capitalize on the amateur talent pool.
Tyson hasn't commented on the matter.