Mumbai: Mike Tyson ditches Dharavi children at the last moment

Updated: Sep 29, 2018, 10:51 IST | Chetna Yerunkar | Mumbai

As locals wait for the former boxing champion to arrive, organisers cancel event due to security reasons; but sources say he will meet the kids later

The empty venue after the event was cancelled. Pic/Satej Shinde
The empty venue after the event was cancelled. Pic/Satej Shinde

Dharavi was all set to welcome former American boxing heavyweight champion Mike Tyson on Friday, but the grand preparations went down the drain when the organisers of the event cancelled his visit at the last moment.

Though the locals believe the event didn't happen owing to security reasons, the Dharavi cops said it was the organisers who called it off. However, sources said, Tyson was expected to drop by Dharavi this weekend.

mid-day, in its first report on Tyson's visit, had mentioned that he was scheduled to launch the Kumite 1 League, to groom talented kids into future Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters. The league's promoters had said that they would scout for talent at the grass-roots level with the aim of creating opportunities for children from the city's biggest slum. A team of experts would groom the chosen kids, who would later represent India on the world map. In view of all of this, the Dharavi locals had set up a stage at Ganesh Vidyamandir High School and put up a poster that mentioned the combat course and launch of the Kumite 1 League.

A local activist, Harish Gohil, who claims to have been coordinating with the organisers, had hired a taxi and put up hoardings about Tyson's visit on it to promote the event. They also mentioned the address of Ganesh Vidya Mandir High School and that he was to meet the children on September 28.

However, on reaching the spot, mid-day found vacant chairs and an empty stage. Gohil said, "The coordinators told us that he would not be able to make it to Dharavi on Friday as they have been denied police protection. After locals were informed about the cancellation, they sent their kids to school." But Suresh Patil, senior police inspector of Dharavi police station, said, "We didn't ask the organisers to cancel the event. They called it off."

Speaking to mid-day, Mohamedali Budhwani, promoter of Kumite 1 League and the man behind Tyson's first-ever Mumbai visit, said, "Apart from security reasons, Tyson is also very tired. In view of his hectic schedule, his Dharavi visit has been postponed. But he is very keen on visiting the area and interacting with the kids. Most likely, he will be there on the weekend." Not just the organisers but even Tyson seems to be interested in the visit. While addressing the press on Friday, Tyson said, "The best boxers in the world emerge from slums because life there is tough."
Inputs by Ashwin Ferro

Also Read: Mike Tyson Gets Grand Welcome By Fans On Arrival In Mumbai

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