Iron Mike Tyson (© Glenn Francis,
Alt coins,  Media

Crypto media fooled by fake Mike Tyson cryptocurrency

A story in VentureBeat and Cointelegraph about an Iron Mike-backed blockchain startup for fighters is on the ropes

Say this in Mike Tyson’s lisping, high-pitched voice: “As a seasoned fighter, I want to mentor future generations, especially future action stars and make sure there’s a path to career success and fair compensation. Building this global platform for them is a passion of mine.”

Did you believe he said that?

Well, apparently VentureBeat did. So did Cointelegraph, which picked up the story Tuesday about a forthcoming cryptocurrency offering allegedly backed by the boxing champion and facial tattoo fan.

The “quote” came in a story about a new blockchain startup, Fight to Fame. Its goal, Cointelegraph said, is to “use blockchain technology to underpin a new, multi-pronged platform that aims to catapult aspiring fighters to success via social media, reality TV, film, games, live matches and betting.”

But, as a quick Google search of “Fight to Fame blockchain” found, cryptocurrency research firm Cointelligence had another take on the story back on May 26.

In an exhaustive article titled, “Fight To Fame: another blockchain fraud,” Cointelligence alleged that the project’s actual founder was “an Interpol-wanted, financial fraudster taking it on the lam from China, named Jianxiang Shi” who allegedly “defrauded billions from ordinary Chinese in 2016 in a massive financial Ponzi scheme.” 

Cointelligence’s story shows a cease-and-desist letter sent by Iron Mike’s attorneys, Lavely & Singer, to Shi and several associates of his Moregain Capital Group, accusing them of “wrongful and tortious misappropriation of Mr. Tyson’s name, voice, photograph, and likeness  (collectively, the ‘Tyson Publicity Rights’) for commercial purposes without his consent in connection with the exploitation of purported ‘Tyson Token’-branded cryptocurrency (the ‘Illegal Product’).”

Cointelligence also cites a May 22 Wall Street Journal feature [subscription required] about Shi, describing him as the flamboyant head of a Hollywood movie production company, Moregain Pictures, and some 20 other U.S. businesses. [The Moregain websites do not mention Shi.]

The Wall Street Journal story said Shi met Tyson when promoting “Ip Man 3”—a kung fu movie in which Tyson starred—and invited the former champion to a 2015 Lunar New Year party that was actually a “launch event for ‘Mike Tyson Token’ and the proposed reality show, ‘Fight to Fame,’ with guests donning big golden boxing gloves.” 

Tyson “left quickly and had cease and desist orders sent to Mr. Shi,” the WSJ reported. It added that a representative said, “Mike felt very abused,” by the event. 

Tim Smithe, described on LinkedIn as chairman of global operations at Fight to Fame (using a picture that matches the Tim Smythe quoted by VentureBeat), did not return a call or email seeking comment by press time.

If you’re thinking that all of this sounds like someone is smoking something, you should know that the boxing champ is investing in Tyson Ranch, a California marijuana production business.

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.