Ten months after a video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford surfaced showing him intoxicated, ranting about wanting to kill someone and "fight" Mike Tyson, Mr. Ford had the chance to come face to face with the former heavyweight champion during a photo op the pair staged at City Hall.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Tyson became the latest in a long string of celebrities who have visited the mayor's office recently. He met with Mr. Ford for more than 45 minutes. Like others who have used the media surrounding the mayor's office to promote their own projects, the boxer spoke to reporters about his upcoming one-man show.
He also called himself a "fan" of the mayor. "I'm not the only celebrity who comes and wants to meet the mayor," he said. "The mayor is a celebrity in his own right. He's a very interesting guy."
The boxer spoke in defence of Mr. Ford's recent controversies, including substance abuse, and an ongoing police investigation targeting the mayor. "We all make mistakes. He's a human being. He's no different from anyone else," he said.
He also brushed off a question about alleged racial slurs the mayor has made. "I don't know anything about any racial slurs," he said. "I've said racial slurs to people before, but I'm not racist."
Mr. Tyson also made a reference to a video made public in November that shows the mayor in an impaired rant, pacing back and forth and saying he is going to rip someone's throat out.
In the video, as the mayor talks about "first-degree murder," a voice off-screen taunts him, saying, "Mike Tyson." To that, Mr. Ford responds, "But I'll fight him."
After a reporter on Tuesday asked the mayor if he would take on the boxer, he said "no."
But Mr. Tyson responded by saying: "Well, he did say he could take me, remember one of those accidental tirades? He did say that he'd kick my butt."
Mr. Ford laughed in response.
Asked whether it was good publicity to be meeting with Mr. Tyson, who has had a controversial past of his own – including a rape conviction – the mayor said, "Sure, absolutely it is."
Mr. Ford said he has "idolized" the fighter since his teenage years. "He's no-nonsense, and that's why I respect him," the mayor said. "I wish him all the best."