Man punched on plane by Mike Tyson is from Florida, has criminal record

He's from Punta Gorda, Fla., and has a lengthy criminal record. On Wednesday, he taunted heavyweight boxing legend Mike Tyson on a JetBlue flight.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The man who was attacked by boxing legend Mike Tyson before taking off on a Jet Blue flight from San Francisco to Miami refused to cooperate with investigators about the incident, according to the San Francisco Police Department.

That passenger was Melvin Townsend III, 36, who has a prior criminal record. TMZ identified Townsend and also reported that he has been convicted of fraud, grand theft, burglary, possession of controlled substances, and trafficking in stolen property.

A review of Florida Department of Corrections Data shows that Townsend, of Punta Gorda, Fla., was released from prison two years ago.

Two videos showed Tyson punching Townsend and another video where the passenger showed a friend who was filming on his cell phone cuts on his face on Wednesday night.

On Thursday night, Tyson ended up making it to Miami Beach where he was in town for a cannabis conference. He was seen on video alongside Ric Flair and Rick Ross at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Collins Avenue.

Tyson’s team said in a statement about the plane incident.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Tyson had an incident on a flight with an aggressive passenger who began harassing him and threw a water bottle at him while he was in his seat.”

By all accounts, Tyson was having a good week before he was taunted by Townsend. He had addressed thousand at a 420 Hippie Hill event at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on Wednesday, April 20. He was leaving San Francisco to come to Miami Beach for the Benzinga Cannabis Conference.

Mike Tyson is not facing any charges and JetBlue has not commented on the situation. We’ve also reached out to a contact at Tyson’s company but have not heard back.

About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

Parker Branton joined Local 10 News in January 2019 as a reporter. He was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, but now loves living on the sunny beaches of South Florida.