A flight out of San Francisco International Airport turned violent on Wednesday night when boxing legend Mike Tyson threw punches at a man who was allegedly bothering him on the plane. Tyson repeatedly punched the man, whose assigned seat on the flight was behind the boxing legend’s. The man was allegedly left with a bloody face after Tyson hit him.
According to TMZ Sports, the incident occurred at 10:30 p.m. after Tyson boarded a JetBlue flight headed to Florida. TMZ also reported that the passenger Tyson hit “was extremely intoxicated … and wouldn’t stop provoking the boxer in his seat.” A spokesperson for Tyson added the passenger threw a water bottle at the 55-year-old.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Tyson had an incident on a flight with an aggressive passenger who began harassing him and threw a water bottle at him while he was in his seat,” the spokesperson told ESPN.
The passenger who harassed Tyson, 36-year-old Melvin Townsend III, reportedly has a lengthy criminal history. Townsend III was listed as a “habitual felony offender” in 2019 after he received a 25-year sentence for grand theft, according to Yahoo. The Punta Gorda, Fla. native has also been convicted of identity fraud, trafficking in stolen property, use of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.
Here is a look at what went down, as published by TMZ Sports (warning: the content of the video is graphic and violent).
A fellow passenger and witness to the incident told TMZ that Tyson did not appear angry at first. Things then took a turn, though, after Tyson took a selfie with the man. Following the photo, the man reportedly kept trying to speak to Tyson.
Tyson, then visibly upset, told the man to stop trying to talk to him. The person did not, and witnesses say it was then that Tyson got physical, TMZ reported.
After punching the man several times in the face, witnesses claim Tyson then walked off the plane. TMZ Sports reports the man injured in the incident got medical attention and went to the police regarding what happened. According to SF Gate, Tyson was in San Francisco on Wednesday to attend the city’s 420 cannabis festival in Golden Gate Park.
While San Francisco Police declined to immediately name the individuals involved in the incident, it said two subjects were apprehended at the airport and later released, per ESPN. One of those subjects received treatment for non-life threatening injuries at the scene but gave “minimal details” of what happened and “refused to cooperate further with the police investigation.”