Tyson pays surprise visit to Mao's memorial

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson visited the Memorial Hall dedicated to late Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing's Tian'anmen Square during his three-day visit to China.

A long-time admirer of the late Chinese leader, Tyson unexpectedly arrived in Beijing on Saturday morning from Shanghai to pay his respects at the hall, the Beijing Times said yesterday.

He arrived in Shanghai last Thursday for a three-day visit to promote a new nightclub.

"I felt really insignificant next to the remains of Chairman Mao," the paper quoted him as saying. "This is a great honour to be able to visit the memorial hall."

Wearing a shirt with the picture of NBA centre Shaquille O'Neal on it, the former champion looked in good spirits.

He said he expected to visit China again and attend contests here, the newspaper said.

Tyson quickly left the crowded hall where the embalmed remains of the late leader lie, after purchasing several books on Mao.

He also reportedly shouted "I love you" to Chinese onlookers.

Later in Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Tyson received a statue from Pan Qinglin, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who personally invited him to visit Beijing.

Tyson, 39, became the youngest champion in heavyweight history, when he took the title aged 20 in 1986, but he retired in June last year with his career battered and bruised by a string of indiscretions in and out of the ring.

While serving a prison sentence in the 1990s for rape, Tyson claimed he read Mao's selected works and expressed admiration for them. He even had his right arm tattooed with the late chairman to show his respect.

Tyson left China yesterday morning and is scheduled to revisit China in June.

Source: China Daily