Givens, Citing Fear, Files for Divorce From Tyson

Times Staff Writer

Charging that Mike Tyson “threatened to kill me” and went on wild, drunken rampages that endangered her life, actress Robin Givens announced Friday that she was filing for divorce from the heavyweight boxing champion.

“Miss Givens is very unhappy about filing this action,” her attorney, Marvin Mitchelson, said at a crowded news conference in the Los Angeles County Courthouse, where her divorce petition was filed. “She loves Michael Tyson. But there is continued violence, and she fears for her safety.”

Both Givens, in her court papers, and Mitchelson alleged that Tyson was mentally disturbed and had been undergoing psychiatric evaluation.


“Michael had been diagnosed as a manic-depressive and had been taking prescriptive medication . . . “ Givens said in a sworn declaration filed along with her petition.

The divorce petition comes amid reports that Givens and her mother, Ruth Roper, have been involved in a power struggle with Tyson’s manager, Bill Cayton, over management of Tyson’s fortune, estimated at $50 million.

Tyson could not be reached for comment.

Kevin Rooney, his trainer of eight years, said in a telephone interview from New York that Tyson was scheduled to fight Frank Bruno in December in London or the United States. Given the mental anguish generated by the divorce proceedings, Rooney said it “may turn out to be the toughest fight of his career.”

Rooney was sharply critical of Tyson, 22, saying “he’s been acting like a jerk” in his relationship with Givens, 23.

“Mike Tyson has to remember what got him to the top, and if he’s going to stay at the top, he has to remember where he came from,” Rooney said.

That was a reference to Tyson’s progression from a broken home in Brooklyn, N.Y., to his current status as one of the most devastating heavyweight champions in boxing history, with 31 knockouts in 35 fights.


The contrast to Givens, whom he married 8 months ago in Chicago, is striking.

While teen-ager Tyson was still being taught table manners by legendary trainer Cus D’Amato, Givens said she was attending expensive private schools in New York and also studying music, dance and the theater. She commutes between her home in the Hollywood hills and The Burbank Studios, where she films an ABC television series, “Head of the Class.”

Mitchelson, a celebrity divorce attorney, denied that he picked California to file the divorce petition because of the state’s liberal community property laws, rather than New Jersey, where the two lived.

Givens, Mitchelson said, has owned a home in the Hollywood hills for the past 2 1/2 years and spends 70% of her time there rather than at the couple’s $4.5-million mansion in Bernardsville, N.J.

Just before Mitchelson’s afternoon news conference, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Hugh E. Macbeth Jr. granted temporary restraining orders prohibiting Tyson “from contacting, molesting, attacking” Givens, her mother and a personal employee.

Another restraining order directs Tyson to stay away from Givens’ home and from where she is filming her television series, and a third order freezes the couple’s assets.

A Superior Court hearing on the divorce orders is scheduled for Oct. 27.

Mitchelson told reporters that Tyson and Givens separated last Sunday after a rampage at the New Jersey mansion. According to a statement Givens gave authorities at that time, Tyson hurled a sugar bowl and threw an andiron and chairs through windows.


In her court declaration, Givens alleged that she was awakened last Sunday “by Michael’s hitting about my body and my head with his closed fist and open hand. Michael appeared . . . to be intoxicated . . .”

Givens, however, did not sign a complaint against Tyson.

Police said Tyson had been angered by a violent picture his wife and mother-in-law painted of him in an interview with Barbara Walters televised last Friday on ABC’s “20/20.”

A few weeks earlier, when Tyson accompanied Givens on a filming trip to Moscow, she alleged that Tyson went on another rampage.

“At the peak of his manic state, Michael went down to the bar and started drinking vodka, glass after glass, like it was water,” Givens said in her declaration. “He then returned to our room, grabbed a handful of lithium and locked himself in the bathroom, saying he was going to kill himself.”

Mitchelson, who said he was retained by Givens Thursday evening, declared he asked “three bodyguards” to protect Givens from Tyson.