Washington, D.C., it occurs to me, may be the perfect place for Mike Tyson to resume his boxing career.
The D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission this week voted 3-0 to grant Tyson a license to box. It has not been determined yet whether a June 8 bout with Lennox Lewis will actually take place there.
"It would be frivolous for us to stand up here and not be concerned about Mr. Tyson's past," said Michael Brown, vice chairman of the boxing commission. "We did that, we took those things into account and made the decision we made."
If ever there were a place where past sins -- let alone crimes -- don't matter, it's Washington, D.C., our nation's capital.
Hollywood would be right up there, I suppose, and Las Vegas has its own special reputation for resurrecting careers. But they can't hold a candle to Washington.
Not everybody thinks Tyson needs rehabilitation.
"So what if he has assaulted old men, mugged old ladies, broken people's noses, raped women, head-butted opponents, tried to break people's arms, bitten ears, burgled people, robbed houses, elbowed opponents, hit below the belt, started riots in casino arenas, fondled women in nightclubs, threw television sets around in cells, fought with prison officers, swore at TV broadcasters?" writes one of his fans. "We all make mistakes!"
Of course we do. And in Washington, they make more than their share.
Who could forget the man from Arkansas? No, not Bill Clinton. I mean Wilbur Mills.
His mistake was hanging out with Annabell Battistella, also known as Fanne Foxe, also known as the "Argentine firecracker."
Actually, their little affair might never have caused Mills so much trouble in the 1970s had not they had the bad luck to get pulled over by U.S. Park Police at the very moment a TV cameraman happened to be in the vicinity. When Fanne dove into the Tidal Basin and had to be rescued, well, videotape doesn't lie.
Tyson's infamous ear-biting bout with Evander Holyfield reminds me, oddly enough, of Dick Morris, the former Clinton adviser. If you recall, Morris apparently had a taste for toes -- according to the $200-an-hour prostitute who wrote a tell-all book. He never bit a piece of one off, though, as far as I know.
Another of Tyson's fans likes to refer to him as "the baddest man on the planet." This could be a good thing or a bad thing, in today's lexicon.
But he would have to go a ways to be badder than former Washington mayor Marion Barry.
Barry, under investigation for years for alleged drug abuse, was busted when a close friend, Rasheeda Moore, invited him to her hotel room. Unknown to Barry, the room was being monitored by FBI agents and he had walked into a sting.
"The b---- set me up," was Barry's famous remark.
The FBI caught Barry with a crack pipe in his hand and charged him with 14 counts. He was convicted of one count of cocaine possession.
In 1994, after sitting out one term, Barry was re-elected to office. Now, that's bad.
Perhaps you've heard of the comedy troupe called "The Capitol Steps." Do you know where they got their name?
Well, you have to be old enough to remember John and Rita Jenrette, the young socialite couple from South Carolina. He was one of six Congressmen implicated in the Abscam case.
Although there were many amazing stories to come from John and Rita Jenrette, none tops the one about them having sex on the steps of the U.S. Capitol during a recess in an all-night House session.
And, thus, a name for a comedy team was born.
Oh, I'm tempted to go on and on. Like a trip down the Memory Lane of Shame, they come back to us -- Wayne Hays and Elizabeth Ray, Gary Hart and Donna Rice, Aldrich Ames, Fawn Hall, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, and the whole cast of characters from Watergate.
The biggest difference between Mike Tyson and those folks, of course, is that Tyson isn't on the federal payroll.
It's a good thing, because even the Pentagon couldn't afford him.
According to a book by Peter Arnold and Bob Mee, Tyson has
made more from boxing than any previous boxer -- an estimated $200 million.
"In 1998 he owned six houses," they write, "including one he hardly used in
Connecticut which had 61 rooms, 38 baths, and a master bedroom with five television sets."
No, boxing fans willingly pay to watch Mike Tyson.
They don't much care he's so bad outside the ring, because he's so bad inside the ring.
That's another reason Mike Tyson might do well to try to reclaim his title in Washington.
Because, to paraphrase a comment about voters and democracy, fight fans generally seem content to get the champion they deserve.
Barry Smith is managing editor of the Nevada Appeal.