Plane passenger pummeled by Mike Tyson identified as 36-year-old with lengthy rap sheet

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New details have emerged in the bizarre incident of a man who was reportedly pummeled by boxing legend Mike Tyson on a plane while awaiting takeoff from San Francisco International Airport last week.

According to celebrity gossip website TMZ, which first broke the story of the altercation with a shocking video that quickly went viral, the Florida man who was struck by “Iron Mike” after he repeatedly pestered the former champ, has an extensive criminal record having “been convicted of fraud, grand theft, burglary, possession of controlled substances and trafficking in stolen property.”

Identified as 36-year-old Melvin George Townsend III from Punta Gorda, the man “broke onto a property in 2018 and stole a trailer that he hitched to his pickup. The drug possession offense was for oxycodone. Official docs don’t mention other specifics. He served time twice — one for 20 months and another time for 15 months,” TMZ reported.

(Video: WPLG)

The action went down on a red-eye JetBlue flight from San Francisco to Florida on Wednesday when the hyperactive Townsend didn’t allow Tyson to comfortably settle in for the coast-to-coast trip. The video shows him leaning over the seat and badgering the 55-year-old who still packs a mean punch years after he prowled the ring where he pulverized opponents and, in one outburst of excessive violence, bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield‘s ear during a 1997 fight.

The video eventually cuts to the obviously aggravated Tyson leaning back over the seat and raining down repeated blows on his antagonist who was bloodied but should consider himself to be very lucky that the beating wasn’t much worse.

(Video: YouTube/TMZ)

Tyson reportedly lost his cool after the verbal abuse escalated with a water bottle allegedly being thrown at him. “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,” according to his representatives.

Both Tyson and Townsend – who had blood dripping from his head – were briefly detained by police at the airport following the altercation, and they were released pending further investigation.

Some took to Twitter to post commentary on the incident.

The plane pummeling also led to resurfaced remarks that Tyson made in a 2020 social media post that turned out to be prophetic.

“Social media made y’all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.” Tyson wrote.

The former world heavyweight champion also recently made news when he acted to defuse what could have been a deadly situation at a Los Angeles nightclub when he hugged a man who had pulled a gun.

“Mike actually hugged the man, at which point he finally left without further incident. We’re told people started to trickle out after that with some trepidation — not knowing if the dude was lurking somewhere down below in the streets. After a bit of time, Mike departed too,” TMZ reported.

Also known as “Kid Dynamite” and “The Baddest Man on the Planet” during his career, Tyson won his first 19 professional fights by knockout and was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world from 1987 to 1990 until he himself was knocked out by unheralded Buster Douglas in one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport. He is widely regarded as the greatest boxer of all time.


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