Mike Tyson allegedly hit a photographer at Los Angeles International Airport and was booked and released on suspicion of battery yesterday, police said.
The paparazzo told police that the former heavyweight boxing champion struck him once, airport police spokesman Sgt Jim Holcomb said.
The photographer fell to the ground and was treated for a cut to his forehead at a hospital.
Tyson's spokeswoman Tammy Brook said the boxer was travelling with his wife and 10-month-old child yesterday afternoon when he was attacked by an overly aggressive paparazzo. The 43-year-old acted in self-defence to protect his child, she said.
Tyson and the unnamed photographer both want to press charges for misdemeanour battery, police said.
"There's a lot of different versions to this story and that's all going to come out later," Sgt Holcomb said.
"Some witness statements support Tyson's version, others support the photographer's."
Paparazzi often camp out at Los Angeles' largest airport to get shots of celebrities in transit.
"I've heard people were following him into the men's room and trying to take his picture there," said Tyson's defence attorney, David Chesnoff. "My advice to him is going to be to vigorously press charges against what everyone agrees are ridiculously aggressive photographers."
Tyson was co-operative as he waited in a holding cell at the airport police station, Sgt Holcomb said. The photographer will also be booked once he is released from the hospital, police said.
Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever in 1986 when he won his title as a 20-year-old. But his life since then has been marred by accusations of domestic violence, rape and cocaine use.
Tyson was convicted of rape in Indiana in 1992 and served three years in prison. He was disqualified from a 1997 heavyweight title fight when he bit off part of Evander Holyfield's right ear, and in 1999 he pleaded no contest to misdemeanour assault charges in Maryland.
In 2003, Tyson filed for protection in US Bankruptcy Court. He served 24 hours in an Arizona jail in 2007 after pleading guilty to cocaine possession and driving under the influence.