Mike Tyson at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas (Photo by Eduardo Merille, via Wiki Commons).
Alt coins,  Media

Mike Tyson’s wife/manager blasts fake crypto story posted by VentureBeat, Cointelegraph, Decrypt

Blockchain start-up Fight to Fame’s claim that the boxing champ is part of the company is false, she tells Modern Consensus

Mike Tyson’s wife—who is also his manager—told Modern Consensus that the former champion has never been involved with Fight to Fame. The company has been telling the press that the former world heavyweight champion is endorsing their cross-media entertainment platform that they claim will combine blockchain technology with live fights, movies, TV, and social media.

On Tuesday, VentureBeat published an article, picked up by Cointelegraph, that claimed Tyson and Bitshares “Godfather” Stan Larimer are deeply involved with the company. The story was later covered by Decrypt, which posted it on Yahoo! Finance.

Fake news, as seen on VentureBeat.

But a simple Google search found that Fight to Fame was denounced as a fraud months ago in an exhaustive report by On Yavin, the founder and CEO of cryptocurrency research firm Cointelligence. In “Fight To Fame: another blockchain fraud,” Yavin linked the company to Jianxiang Shi, a Chinese fugitive. Shi is wanted in connection with a 2016 Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of $5.8 billion—$2.3 billion of which is still missing—according to a May 22 article in the Wall Street Journal [subscription required]. 

In a phone interview, Tyson publicist Jo Mignano, told Modern Consensus that while he had discussions about Fight to Fame two years ago, he never joined the company.

Texting with Mignano during the call, Tyson’s wife and manager, Lakiha Spicer, confirmed that he “never had a deal with them.”

Tyson told the Fight to Fame backers “several times he was not moving forward,” said Mignano. “He has had no contact with them since that time. There is no truth to this.”

The publicist added that she reached out to VentureBeat and Cointelegraph asking for a retraction. As of 9:30 p.m. on August 13, the story was still up on both sites. 

This Cointelegraph image did not happen. Neither did the story’s content.

Yavin’s report included a copy of a February 12 cease-and-desist letter sent by Tyson’s attorneys, Lavely & Singer, to Shi and several associates of his Moregain Capital Group. The firm accused Moregain 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’).”

Iron Mike’s cease and desist letter against Moregain Capital, as seen on Cointelligence.

While attorney Martin Singer did not return calls seeking comment, Mignano said his office had forwarded her Modern Consensus’ request. She was unable to address any legal matters directly. 

Tyson himself will not be commenting publicly on the matter, said Mignano, adding that “he is trying to be polite through his representatives.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Tyson met Shi while promoting “Ip Man 3”—a kung fu movie in which the boxer had a role. 

Tim Smithe, described on LinkedIn as chairman of global operations at Fight to Fame, did not return a call or an email seeking comment by press time.

Chairman Tim Smithe on LinkedIn. Not be be confused with Chairman Kim Jung-Un.

Fight to Fame CEO Farzam Kamalabadi told VentureBeat: “We take the talent, discover them, put them in the sporting competitions globally, and once they show the talent put them in the dramatic TV reality shows. The result for the winners is they are trained to become action superstars in Hollywood and globally. This has not been done. To do this in the modern age with blockchain.”

Venturebeat also reported that Fight to Fame is planning an initial coin offering (ICO) of an FF Token that fans could use to bet on fighters and support projects. 

On his LinkedIn page, Smithe describes a three-part business model, beginning with a series of fights hosted in 100 countries. The most popular fighter would star in a reality TV show, with fans voting for participants using FF Tokens. 

Part three, Smithe said, is “[i]nvest in Hollywood Action Movies starring our top fighters (who we fly to Hollywood for acting and stunt lessons). Of course there will be derivatives like Merchandise and a custom Esport game.”

He added: “Mike Tyson invites you into the ring with him.”

Except that he doesn’t. 

Updated 11:50 a.m. 8/14/19: Corrected spelling of Jo Mignano.

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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.