I feel it’s important to state upfront, I’m biased: I’m not a Mike Tyson fan.
Decades ago, when Robin Givens was divorcing Mike Tyson, I met her at the People’s Choice Awards. People were outright mean to her. How dare she make allegations that Mike Tyson was anything other than an American Icon to celebrate. I may have been the only person who was nice to her. She was clearly being wronged by an industry with a long history of excusing bad behavior by the men who made them money. Even now, in the era of the #MeToo movement, my male friends are giving Tyson a pass on his bad behavior (even when he brags about what he did on social media) while other friends who have been victims of false accusations have permanently lost their livelihoods. I can’t help but notice the double standard.
Fast forward to a month ago. I was approached to help obtain sponsorship for an incredibly unique blockchain-based multi-platform project called, ‘Fight to Fame”. Beyond just a fight competition, it’s five industries including, Film, Sports, Reality TV, Gaming and Blockchain. As a blockchain influencer and an award-winning film producer, especially with my background in international television formats, this was in my wheelhouse.
“Mike Tyson and a whole group of world champions, from South Africa and Brazil and the Middle East and Europe will serve as mentors for the young potential talent all over the world,” said Farzam Kamalabadi, CEO of Fight to Fame. He continued, “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 me, the project checks all the boxes for an international smash hit. With fighting, social media, fan participation, mobile app, social tv, dramatic competition, action movies, celebrities, and the chance to become one yourself… it’s the Midas touch. Then, to build the project on blockchain technology which ensures fighters reap the rewards of their efforts is genius. But, when I saw that Mike Tyson was involved, I declined. I warned the team that Tyson would not be good for the project in the long run. It turns out… I was right.
Despite the fact that Tyson has been promoting the project for more than a year in multiple interviews, stating, “We really are looking to change entertainment as a whole and bring the best of everything together for the ultimate fan and fighter experience,” a recent post on his twitter account claims he has no affiliation.
My first thought was, “countdown website?” Do they have a website? When I was approached, everything was still very hush-hush: collecting celebrity partners, bringing on sponsors, signing both domestic and international distribution agreements… the usual “dotting I’s” and “crossing T’s” which has to occur before a project publically announce a major new media project. Even I was vetted and sworn to secrecy just to review the press kit when I was asked to help with sponsorship. How did I miss a public website?
For a project poised to take over the world a month ago, events this past week look as though the project will go on. However, without Tyson. What exactly happened? Let’s review the timeline:
July 18, 2018 — Tyson signed a detailed contract with the US China Motion Picture Association then development began on creating the platform that would launch new action stars. Partnerships were created with Moregain Capital Group to fund the reality television project to kick-off the enterprise.
The project was heavily shaped with Tyson’s input based on his vision for the way new fighters could break into the industry. “The idea of Fight to Fame came from thinking about the problem of not having new action stars coming through the pipeline,” said Tyson in an approved statement to VentureBeat. “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.”
His ultimate goal? According to Tim Smithe, Chairman of Global Operations, he wanted to attract 100 million fighters. Quite a lofty goal. Tim questioned him about the large number and his response was there are 85 million fighters in China alone. Now, that number doesn’t seem so far fetched.
January 16, 2019 — Tyson recorded a video promoting the project and encouraging his fans to support Fight to Fame.
Mike Tyson promoting Fight to Fame and encouraging fans to join on 1/16/2019.
The script for this video which Tyson can be seen reading “badly” was sent to and approved by the Tyson team, including his wife/manager, Kiki, prior to the taping at the launch event.
In it, he confirms that he indeed, is, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of Fight to Fame.
Clearly, he’s reading a script. He’s obviously not a great actor, but, he’s enthusiastically reading.
Now, Kiki is claiming that the script was swapped at the last minute from the one she approved to celebrate Chinese New Year and that the launch event he was attending was not revealed in-advance. Multiple sources confirm this is untrue. Also, Kiki claimed in a hit piece by CoinIntelligence that, “They got Mike Tyson to record on-the-fly in early 2018.” Also, untrue. I secured a screen capture from the phone the original video was shot on. Clearly, we can see the date.
February 12, 2019 — After recording the endorsement video, his attorneys sent a five page cease-and-desist claiming there was no contract and that Moregain, and Fight to Fame were, in essence, stealing Tysons publicity rights. Prior to receiving the cease-and-desist, based on interactions between the teams, there was no reason not to believe Tyson was on-board.
February 26, 2019 — Upon receipt, Fight to Fame repeatedly tried to contact Tyson’s attorneys for two weeks, unsuccessfully. Eventually, Fight to Fame’s attorney responded in writing with a copy of the contract (I have a copy and have read but do not have permission to make it public). I was able to obtain the response and have included it below.
After no response and believing all parties were again on the same page, development continued with both the Tyson and Fight to Fame teams working together. Collateral was created, press kits were distributed, sponsorship deals were started. The project was heating-up and everyone, teams and fans alike, were getting excited to launch.
January to May of 2019 the team embarked on a global tour, sharing the vision for Fight to Fame. Below is Tim Smithe, 2-Time Emmy Winning Writer/Producer and Chairman of Global Operations of Fight to Fame giving an overview of the project.
May 22, 2019 — The Wall Street Journal posted a scandalous story about Chinese billionaire Shi Jianxiang (aka Dr. Morgan to his American friends), a movie producer with blockbuster credits and an intimate knowledge of the Asian entertainment markets. Morgan was the one who gave Tyson his role in Ip Man 3, when the fighter’s life was on the rocks, virtually resurrecting his career. The article alleges Morgan owns Fight to Fame, but according to corporate records, he is not affiliated with any of the entities associated with Fight to Fame.
August 12. 2019 — VentureBeat breaks the Fight to Fame story, announcing it as Mike Tyson’s new groundbreaking blockchain project set to forever change the fighting world. CoinTelegraph and other major outlets all start writing about his amazing new project.
August 14, 2019 — And then the tweet… And the Instagram post… And the Facebook post… All from Sprout Social, which is interesting because when @MikeTyson tweets he tweets from his phone. Not a social media management app. I can only surmise that this very well-crafted publicity statement came from his team.
Tyson’s publicist, Jo Mignano, told Modern Consensus Senior Editor Leo Jakobson, “While he had discussions about Fight to Fame two years ago, he never joined the company.” Mignano also said in reference to the recent media frenzy over the launch of Fight to Fame, “He has had no contact with them since that time. There is no truth to this.” Except for the video he made in January, confirming his role as Chairman, and endorsing the project and encouraging fans to get on board… And that pesky signed contract… And the regular communication between Tyson’s team and Fight to Fame’s team… Nope, no contact. None.
In the face of such overwhelming evidence, Kiki then claimed that she handwrote that the Term Sheet would be fully agreed to in writing at a later date. This is factually incorrect. The contract had the words, “cooperate fully,” circled, with, “as per agreed in writing at a later date.” The only part of the contract that was amended were those two words. The details of the token launch, live events, television show, Tyson’s roles in the films developed out of Fight to Fame properties, as well as other details of the project were addressed and executed.
I can see why it would make sense to amend, ‘cooperate fully’ without a detailed definition of rights and responsibilities attached to that phrase. But, that one amendment does not negate the rest of the contract, for which, I have been informed, was consummated, and Tyson enjoyed the benefit of said contract for more than a year.
In a response to the Tyson team’s ever-changing story, Fight to Fame said:
“Any mistaken accusations regarding Fight to Fame and Mike Tyson’s involvement are unfounded. Mr. Tyson has been instrumental in shaping the vision to bring the next generation of fighters to Hollywood through Fight to Fame. For over a year, he has been involved with the company, including promoting Fight to Fame in videos and events. We have acted only in good faith and have provided evidence to the select media to verify this relationship, including a signed contract. We are confident any misunderstandings will be resolved promptly.”
“When a celebrity with a global brand is in serious disagreement or crisis with another growing brand, first it is important to cut the ties cleanly and professionally with clear evidence in the court of law and the court of public opinion,” said Mike Paul, president of Reputation Doctor® LLC, a leading, global, crisis public relations and reputation management firm.
“The next step is to recruit even bigger celebrity brands to partner with your brand in an ethical and professional capacity to build relationships which last for the long term,” said Mike Paul, who has counseled top celebrities, global corporations and athletes for years.” “Look for Fight to Fame to grow into a global success across platforms and audiences in the worlds of sports, entertainment, finance and other business worldwide because it has the right stuff,” Paul continued.
I agree. While many details of the Fight to Fame project have yet to be revealed, I’ve been given exclusive access to several details that will create credibility and excitement. The project is launching… on time. Like a rocket ship.
“It is a cosmic rule that any great venture and cause bring with it challenges proportionate to the degree of its uniqueness and greatness, and no vicious and malicious attacks can at all adversely affect the brilliant outcomes of such monumental causes and mighty enterprises.
“Fight to Fame, with its legitimate, superior, and transparent business and financial model, world-class teams, added with ideal motives and methodologies, will only move from strength to strength and will vindicate its nature to be the Fight for Peace and universal participation.” Farzam Kamalabadi, CEO of Fight to Fame