LAST CALL: Tyson embraces a challenge made against his mettle

The folks at Starbucks and The World Bank could learn a thing or two from squared-circle tough guy Mike Tyson.

The folks at Starbucks and The World Bank could learn a thing or two from squared-circle tough guy Mike Tyson.

You may not think the much-protested coffee chain and international finance group would have much in common with a much-convicted former heavyweight champion. But a group of gay-rights activists brought them all into the same league last week by carrying signs and chanting slogans at Tyson as he emerged from his limo in Memphis, TN, the battlefield for his title challenge against undisputed champion Lennox Lewis.

The tiny handful of activists began chanting anti-homophobia slogans at Tyson - a brave move in itself - as film crews followed the boxer/ear chomper and his entourage. Rarely one for deft PR maneuvering, Tyson nonetheless showed remarkable media savvy.

Upon hearing the taunts, the ex-con pugilist flashed a rarely seen grin of his gold-capped teeth, and headed straight for the protesters, arms outstretched, looking not for a fight, but a little love.

Stunned and no doubt intimidated (we don't mean to stereotype, but we're pretty sure Tyson could have turned these guys into a pulpy mass without breaking a sweat), the activists stopped chanting and started hugging.

What ensued was a camera-friendly lovefest, replayed on CNN often enough to make you forget Tyson's past anti-gay comments (well, almost, anyway).

The Mike Tyson school of crisis management. Watch for it.

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