At some point, Mike Tyson, nicknamed “Iron Mike” or “Dynamite Kid” is one of the most famous people in the world and the best heavyweight boxers in history. The tabloids have always been interested in his life. Enjoying the fame and glory that comes with boxing at a very young age (he was the youngest heavyweight champion), Tyson became one of the most accomplished, recognized, and iconic sports figures the world has ever seen. Even to this day, he is widely perceived to be in the ranks of the “Greatest Boxers of All Times”. At the height of his career, Tyson had no real or serious challenger and was known for never taking a step back during fights. 

Widely known for his wildness in the ring, aggression to challengers, and a body perfectly built for the ideal boxer, Tyson was a nightmare to any challenger in the ring. His hunger for the throne was insatiable, moving from one victory to another, earning almost $685 million in the 1990s!

If you have read this far, you’d have thought that Here’s an incredible life devoid of glitches! Well, it wasn’t.

By the turn of the 1990s, Mike Tyson’s career and continual rise to stardom began to receive damaging blows. These blows set a series of ups and downs for the once enviable boxer that would later become a prominent mark of Tyson’s history. 

The first was in 1990 when he lost his Heavyweight title to James Douglas in a match that was seen to be an upset. Before that, Robin Givens, Tyson’s wife, and an actress with a considerable amount of fame, had come out to the public in an interview on ABC TV to say how she was a victim of spousal abuse while being married to the boxer. Tyson was 22 while Givens was 24 when they got married. She described their marriage and life with Tyson as “pure hell.” A divorce followed her shocking revelation a month later. 

However, the most decisive blow to Tyson came from the most unexpected places and person: Outside the ring. The blow came when Mike Tyson met an 18-year-old girl named Desiree Washington, a Miss Black Rhode Island and contestant in the Miss Black America, who just graduated from high school. The year: July 1991. The scene: a room in Canterbury Hotel, Indianapolis. The aftermath: Mike Tyson, on March 26, 1992, at age 25, was on his way to jail.  

Tyson’s trial and sentence were simply a key staple for a decade that was marked for its lineup of celebrities meshed in trials that sparked international attention and media gossips about sex, fame, and crime. From the 1991 trial of William Kennedy Smith for rape in Florida to the 1995 trial of O.J. Simpson for murder in California, the eyes of the world were feasting on American celebrities passing through its justice system. 

But who exactly is Desiree Washington?

It is extremely hard to talk about Desiree Washington without talking about Mike Tyson or the trial that followed. No one would have thought that Tyson’s meeting with a young girl who was climbing the ladder of the modeling world would make him one of the infamous personalities of modern history.

There is no much information about her personal life since the media attention on her was primarily due to her encounter with Mike Tyson. As such, interest in her stemmed from the scandal and not in her life in general. In essence, she is widely known as “the woman who accused Mike Tyson of rape” and nothing more. 

From the few available sources, Desiree Washington was born in 1973. She had always had a passion for modeling since she was a child. Her dream received a boost in 1991 when she became the Miss Black Rhode Island. It was in the aftermath of this that she met Mike Tyson in Indianapolis at the age of 18. Like most first meetings between two people– the accused and the victim, Tysons and Washington’s meeting was dramatic. Tyson had landed at Indianapolis International Airport during the same period that the Miss Black American Pageant was ongoing. As a famous boxer, especially one at the height of his career, Tyson found himself in the same rehearsal hall where 23 young girls were contesting for the crown. Desiree Washington, 18 years old and full of great beauty, was fighting for the same crown. Tyson and Washington made an appearance in a video in which Tyson was singing a rap song. After the video, Tyson asked her out and gave her the phone number to the hotel room he was staying in the city. 

The Allegation Against Mike Tyson

Shortly after she’d met Mike Tyson in his hotel room, exactly two months later, Desiree Washington would accuse Mike Tyson of rape. The case is still one of the most polarizing and publicized rape cases in modern history. This is because the accused is arguably one of history’s greatest boxers. There are some in many corners who believe in Tyson’s innocence while there are others who believe he did what he was accused of. But what truly happened about three decades ago in that hotel room in Indianapolis? Was everything that was made available in the court true? Was Desiree Washington lying? Or was she telling the truth? Was Mike Tyson’s insistence on his innocence true or false?  

The attraction to the case was wild. There were, reportedly, more than 400 media people from 14 countries in the world, including the United States following up. And the financial expenses were quite glaring. 60-year-old Vincent Fuller, who represented Tyson in court, and one of America’s most skillful defense attorneys, was said to have earned nothing less than a whopping $5,000 daily! 

The State, to solidify the seriousness of the case, enlisted the service of Greg Garrison, a trial lawyer with a military-style, fiery and blistering presence in the court, to be its special prosecutor. To the media, the case wasn’t just a process to determine the innocence of one of America’s most recognized figures; it was a battle for glory between two legal personalities with intimidating qualifications. 

As for the set up to what led to the above moment in history, everything began from that fateful day that Mike Tyson gave Desiree Washington his hotel room phone number.

While testifying as to what happened that day, Desiree said found the boxer completely drunk when she visited him in the hotel. When she got inside, Tyson requested intimacy to which she registered her refusal, telling him she’s not that kind of girl. Still drunk, Tyson got angry and came up to her, forcefully trying to find his way into her. After further pleadings for release, Tyson was insistent. To protect herself, she punched him. This infuriated Tyson who quickly turned aggressive on her. With no one to run to and left without a choice, Desiree Washington surrendered her body to Tyson. According to her, it was the best thing she could do in such a situation.

The Trial

15 days. That was how long the rape trial of Mike Tyson took. From 26 January 1992 to 10 February 1992, Mike Tyson watched with bated breath to see the direction the next step of his life would take. 

But how did everything lead to a trial?

When Desiree Washington returned to her apartment, one of the first things she did was to inform her roommate that Mike Tyson raped her in his hotel. Soon after, they informed the police to whom Desiree Washington repeated her claims. As the days turned into weeks, witnesses in their dozens appeared in courts and gave evidence that gave strength to the allegations. One of those that appeared in the court was a doctor from the Methodist Hospital who was said to have examined Washington barely twenty hours after she was raped. He told the court that after examining Washington, her genitals indicated that she was raped, having seen “a small abrasion of the inner vagina wall.”

The doctor wasn’t the only one to give a damning testimony. Mike Tyson’s chauffeur, who drove Desiree Washington back to her apartment that same night, reported seeing her dazed and had almost asked her if she was okay, but decided against doing so.

Looking terrified, being thrown into the international limelight, Desiree Washington walked into the courtroom, and a few moments later, she was looking at Garrison straight in the eye while she answered his questions. 

In his defense, Mike Tyson, agreeing that sex happened, insisted that what happened between him and Miss Desiree Washington was with her full and legal consent and that he didn’t force himself on her. He claimed that Desiree registered complete interest in him and the physical intimacy that followed. Tyson’s lawyer, Vincent J. Filler, accused Desiree of being simply a woman who was out to try to get money from Mike Tyson. In essence, she was a gold digger simply trying to legalize her aim using the law. Vincent Filler wasn’t the only one thinking this way. Most of Tyson’s supporters saw Desiree Washington as being jealous of Tyson’s success in the ring. Her allegation of sex was simply a premeditated means to bring him down and ruin his career forever. 

Conviction and Sentencing

After weeks of court proceedings, the jury mulled over the case for 10 hours and reached a decision that Desiree Washington was raped by Mike Tyson. On 26 March 1992, Michael Gerard Tyson was sentenced to prison for 6 years. He was 25 at the time and, despite some previous shortcomings, was at the top of his career. 

Tyson served less than 3 years in jail at the Indiana Youth Center before he was released in March 995. 

Return to the Ring

Following his release from prison, Mike Tyson took a year of rigorous training and made a return to boxing with a decisive win over, first, Peter McNeeley and then Buster Mathis Jr. The first match created a boxing history by setting a United States record $63 million for per view television. More than 1.5 million homes watched the match live. 

Tyson would go on to have a successful career in boxing, winning over major opponents, and then branching into making appearances in movies and television. 

Mike Tyson – Personal Life and Career

Mike Tyson, whose full name is Michael Gerard Tyson, was born on June 30, 1966, in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York City. His biological father, Purcell Tyson, was from Jamaica while his mother was Lorna Mae Tyson. Tyson identifies Jimmy Kirkpatrick, who died in 1992 as his father. When Tyson was 16 years old, his mother died, leaving him in the hands of his future legal guardian, Cus D’Amato, a boxing manager and trainer. Growing up in a neighborhood split by crime, it was natural for Tyson to get into fights, especially with boys who were bigger than him, and twice his age. By the time he turned 14, he had had more nearly 40 run-ins with the law, resulting in arrests. 

As the years progressed, Tyson found his place in boxing history, setting the standard so high that boxing enthusiasts referred to him as being equaled only by Muhammad Ali. By the late 1980s and throughout much of the 1990s, Tyson was one of the richest boxers in the US. 

Recognized for his controversial and, sometimes, shocking actions while inside the ring, Tyson joined the list of global superstars and personalities who dominated and became subjects of popular media engagements. From portrayals in movies, books, music, and television, Tyson’s fame went as far as making appearances in video games, involvement in wrestling, and having cameo roles in films. 

He was also known for his resilient spirit. After his release from prison, Tyson went on to have comeback victories against his challengers, including Frank Bruno, Peter McNeeley, and Buster Mathis Jr. 

Throughout his career, Tyson has been many things. He is recognized, ranked, and honored as the holder of the longest unified championship reign in boxing, the 10 heavyweight 12 times by BoxRec, one of the 100 greatest punches in boxing history, the first on ESPN’s list of “The Hardest Hitters in Heavyweight History,” arguably the most ferocious fighter in boxing history, and an inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame World Boxing Hall of Fame. 

Mike Tyson retired from professional boxing in 2006, although he still gets involved in exhibition fights. The most recent is the Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr. which took place on 28 November 2020 and was declared a draw.

Desiree Washington’s Net Worth

No one knows how much exactly Desiree Washington’s net worth is. But the incident that turned out to be one of the famous trials of the 1990s has enabled her to come into a sizable amount of money from Mike Tyson. This was paid as compensation. Tyson, even after being released from prison, was made to pay a large amount of money as legal charges. For the entire case, there was a rumor circulating that he spent nothing less than $200,000 for the case, plus an additional $30,000 as a fine, and another $150,000 to the justice department. There’s no evidence as to the exact amount of money that Desiree Washington got from Mike Tyson. 

But from all indications, it was evident that her short meeting with one of the greatest boxers of all time had thrown all of them into a place in history that none of them wished for themselves. For while Mike Tyson had managed to regain himself in the public eye, Desiree Washington, once a young girl dreaming of carving a name for herself in the modeling world, found her entire life playing a major part in one of the darkest moments in boxing history. No one would ever wish that for themselves.