Mike Tyson was ordered by a federal jury Monday to pay his former trainer Kevin Rooney more than $4.4 million, a ruling denounced by the heavyweight champion and his activist supporters.
Rooney had sued Tyson for $49 million, claiming the boxer had broken a lifetime contract.
“I am going to appeal this unjust decision,” Tyson said.
Outside the courthouse, about two dozen demonstrators brought to Albany by New York City activist Al Sharpton to support Tyson chanted “No Justice, No Peace!”
“An all-white jury has just robbed Mike Tyson of human status,” Sharpton said of the decision by the eight jurors.
Rooney said he was satisfied with the award of $4,415,651.
“I never expected $49 million,” he said. “You can’t take blood from a stone. They came in with what they feel is a just verdict and I’m not going to argue with it.”
The jury broke after a day’s deliberations on Thursday and resumed talking Monday.
Shortly after noon, the jury returned to hear some of Tyson’s estimony read back. In the testimony, Tyson explained he no longer wanted to work with Rooney after becoming angry at the trainer for talking publicly about Tyson’s marriage to actress Robin Givens and his contract dispute with former manager Bill Cayton.
On Thursday, the jury had asked to see a tape of Rooney’s 1988 television interview that had angered Tyson.
Boxing promoter Don King, who grew close to Tyson following his estrangement from Cayton, Rooney and the 1988 death of former manager Jim Jacobs, called the verdict a “terrible thing.”
“I think it’s a very sad day for my country,” King said. “I love my country and this is just a further way of dividing it.”
During the trial, Rooney could produce no written contract with Tyson to train the boxer. But he argued that the arrangement was established by Tyson’s mentor, the late Cus D’Amato, when Rooney started to work with the teen-ager in 1982.
D’Amato died in 1985. Cayton testified that he and Jacobs, who took over Tyson’s affairs after D’Amato died, continued the arrangement.
Boxers Bobby Czyz and Tommy Morrison testified during the trial that trainers serve at the whim of boxers.
Jurors also heard videotaped testimony from Camille Ewald, D’Amato’s longtime live-in friend from Catskill, N.Y., who is considered a surrogate mother by Tyson. Ewald, 91, is hospitalized with heart problems.
Ewald said D’Amato told her that he considered Rooney “a mistake” as trainer because of his gambling problems.
“Cus never made him as a trainer,” Ewald said. “In fact, he was going to let him go.”
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