INDIANAPOLIS -- Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson pleaded innocent Wednesday to charges that he raped an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant, then expressed his desire to again wear boxing championship belts.
'I'm confused by the whole issue,' Tyson said at a news conference a few hours after appearing in Marion County (Ind.) Superior Court. 'I'm just looking forward to the fight and becoming champion on Nov. 8. '
Tyson is scheduled to fight champion Evander Holyfield at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nev., for the undisputed heavyweight title. All plans for the bout are on despite the indictment.
'My advice to Mr. Tyson is to win with integrity,' Don King, Tyson's promoter, said during the news conference at the Hyatt Regency hotel. 'We'll win the fight in Caesars Palace, then come back and win the one in Indiana.'
Tyson is charged with rape, confinement and two counts of criminal deviate conduct for allegedly forcing a contestant in the Miss Black America pageant to have sex at a hotel room early July 19. If convicted on all charges, he could face up to 63 years in prison.
Tyson appeared in a four-minute initial hearing before Judge Patricia J. Gifford, then was booked and released on $30,000 bond. Gifford entered an innocent plea for the boxer and trial was set for Jan. 27, 1992.
Gifford will consider defense requests Friday for a change of venue and a gag order on the case.
But before any gag order could take effect, Tyson and King held the news conference, mostly to outline documents and a videotape they plan to use in launching a lawsuit against Bill Cayton, Tyson's former co- manager.
'Economically, he's been raped,' King said of Tyson.
King advised Tyson not to answer questions that might get into specifics of the criminal case, but the fighter maintained his innocence and said he just wants to continue training for the bout.
'(The accuser) knows what happened in that hotel room and I know what happened,' Tyson said. 'I'm innocent and there was no reason for me being (in court).'
Tyson said the only training he has missed was to make the court appearance. He added that he will resume training in Las Vegas as soon as possible.
'The fight comes first. After the fight comes the trial and I will prove myself innocent,' Tyson said.
Tyson said he while enjoys meeting people, but might have to reconsider making public appearances.
'Even though that's not the way I am, that's the way it's going to have to be,' he said.
Tyson spent much of the news conference silent, his right hand wrapped around a microphone. At one point, he rested his chin and left hand on the microphone while King spoke to reporters.
Tyson was represented at the hearing by highly successful Washington defense attorney Vincent Fuller and local counsel James Voyles.
About a dozen Guardian Angels picketed outside the City-County Building, chanting: 'Do the right thing! Postpone the fight!'
In Wednesday's Indianapolis Star, the complainant's local attorney, David Hennessy, slammed The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., for printing his client's name.
'It is reprehensible,' Hennessy said. 'Aparently there is one paper out there that counts themselves in the ranks of irresponsible journals. Does it make a story more newsworthy if they use the name of the victim?'
It is common policy for media outlets not to publicly reveal a rape victim's name unless he or she specifically gives permission.
King and Tyson mentioned the accuser's name several times.
Tyson was indicted Monday after a three-man, three-woman special grand jury deliberated for less than two hours. In addition, two civil lawsuits have been filed over Tyson's conduct during a 38-hour visit to Indianapolis for the annual Indiana Black Expo, a weeklong series of cultural and related events.
The rape case is the latest turmoil in a life that has been marked by childhood crimes, out-of-the-ring brawls, lawsuits, a high-profile divorce and car wrecks. Tyson was a mugger and thief in his native Brooklyn before Cus d'Amato became his mentor and made him heavyweight champion at the age of 19.
Many of Tyson's troubles have been with women. Robin Givens, after a brief and stormy marriage to Tyson, claimed he was manic-depressive. Another contestant from the Miss Black America contest, calling Tyson a 'serial fondler,' is suing Tyson for allegedly groping her during rehearsals. He had been fined $100 earlier for fondling another woman.
Tyson won his title from Trevor Berbick Nov. 22, 1986, and lost it to Buster Douglas in a shocking Feb. 11, 1990 match in Tokyo.