Having Turned 'Iron Mike' into Molten Metal, Robin Givens Proves That Tyson Is Ring-Ready

updated 02/22/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/22/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

The CBS cameraman doing crowd coverage at the NBA All-Star Game thought something was up. Each time he panned to boxer Mike Tyson and actress Robin Givens, he saw that they were paying much less attention to the game than to each other. Specifically, heavyweight champ Tyson, he of the bad attitude, was displaying an awfully fond attitude toward Givens, never taking his hand off her leg. And Givens, who plays snooty student Darlene on ABC's Head of the Class, wasn't turning her nose up at his affections.

The cameraman thought they were an unusually coosome twosome, given that they were sitting among 18,401 other people at Chicago Stadium, but he didn't necessarily think Tyson and Givens were about to get married. Neither, in fact, did they. The couple left the game to attend a fund raiser at nearby Holy Angels Church, where a friend of Tyson's, Father George Clements, is the priest. "We'd only been talking about getting married," says Givens. "But while we were at the fund raiser Michael suddenly said, 'Father Clements could marry us.' " The priest had been counseling the couple, who are Catholic, "so we talked to him and decided to get married right then," says Robin. At 5 p.m. that day, with two witnesses attending, they wed. And so just two weeks after demolishing former heavyweight champ Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson himself went down for the count, putting the ring on Robin Givens' finger.

True, Tyson and Givens, who've been dating since March, seem like an odd matchup. Raised in New York by her divorced mother, Robin was a modeling, movie and TV veteran in her teens. An academic standout, she entered classy Sarah Lawrence College at age 15 and Harvard's medical school four years later. She dropped out after two semesters when Bill Cosby suggested she try acting. Tyson, whose parents are dead, was a member of a Brooklyn street gang and was sent to reform school at age 11. Two years later he was discovered, and eventually adopted, by master trainer Cus D'Amato, who molded him into one of boxing's greatest fighting machines.

Yet Robin and Mike do cover some common ground. Deep down, he's a sensitive soul; he also does the dishes and takes out the garbage at home. She's gone out with Eddie Murphy and the Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan, so she likes explosive, well-coordinated guys. And she can scrap with the best of 'em. Once, when Givens and actress Holly (21 Jump Street) Robinson were both attending Sarah Lawrence, they got into such a fracas that the resident assistant had to pull them apart.

Besides, Robin's mother likes Mike. "He's so sweet and very close to both of us," says Ruth. "Believe me, I can be critical, but Mike is wonderful." So why shouldn't they get married—and married again? Two days after the couple exchanged vows in Chicago, they repeated the ceremony in New York, this time with benefit of a license.

But without the benefit of a pre-nuptial agreement. "Our agreement is never to get divorced," says Robin, who will change her stage name to Tyson. She adds, laughing, "Michael said if I ever divorced him, he'd kill me." But don't think the couple is headed down (if you'll pardon the expression) a rocky road. "We wrestle all the time and I think I can beat him," declares Givens. "He's really just a huge teddy bear."

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