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Tyson's weibo wobble

Updated: 2013-08-23 07:51
By Agence France-Presse in Beijing ( China Daily)

Boxing legend Mike Tyson is keen to up his profile in China, but is struggling to grasp the country's sardonic sense of humor, judging by his online weibo debut this week.

The former world heavyweight champion opened a verified account on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo service on Monday, and asked in his second posting: "Who's the best fighter in China?"

A popular response was chengguan, China's widely despised enforcers of urban regulations, who have a reputation for brutality.

But Tyson, who retired in 2005 after a career noted for controversy inside and outside the ring including a rape conviction, replied: "Who is Chengguan? A tough man? I've never heard of him."

Later he wrote: "Many guys talking about Chengguan as a great fighter? Still not a clue about him."

Tyson was following celebrities including Brad Pitt and Dave Beckham onto Sina Weibo, and had 75,000 followers by Tuesday afternoon.

The boxer's posts quickly became among the most reposted on Sina, with tens of thousands of followers weighing in on a potential showdown.

"They will be the ones biting your ears," said one poster, referring to the 1997 WBA heavyweight title bout in which Tyson was disqualified for biting Evander Holyfield's ears.

"You fight others in the ring legally in the US. Chengguan fight others legally in the street in China," said another sarcastic comment.

Excessive zeal from chengguan enforcers regularly attracts media attention in China.

Last month Deng Zhengjia, a 56-year-old watermelon vendor, died in an encounter with them in the central province of Hunan.

Media reports quoting his wife said an officer smashed Deng's head with a metal weight, although the county government denied the allegation.

Another poster offered this tip to Tyson: "If you really want to challenge our chengguan, just sell your American hamburgers in our Chinese streets."