Fallen boxer Mike Tyson has sparked fury in Italy, after promoters invited him to a musical festival as a special guest.

Tyson will reportedly earn as much as $92,460 (GBP48,663) from state broadcaster RAI to appear at the SANREMO festival today (02MAR05), outraging groups, including AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, which pointed to his rape conviction.

Women's support network TELEFONO ROSA says, "We are talking about a rapist... a personality that, even with all of the precautions, we cannot say what he will do or say in the confines of a big spectacle."

Tyson served three years in prison for the 1991 rape of a former beauty queen and was suspended from boxing after he bit off part of EVANDER HOLYFIELD's ear in a 1997 title bout.

As a concession to critics, RAI will ensure Tyson appears on television only after 10.30pm - when more "adult" material is permitted on the airwaves.

For his part, Tyson admits he has no clue why Italian organisers picked him to appear at a music festival.

He says, "I have no idea why they invited me... Maybe it's because I'm a music lover."

02/03/2005 02:52