Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who has avoided injury in the ring, was knocked out in a car wreck that left him with minor head and chest wounds, according to friends and relatives.

The wreck occurred at about 11:20 a.m. Sunday near his training camp in Greene County, and Tyson was brought to Manhattan where he was hospitalized overnight at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, officials said.Dr. Carolyn Britton, assistant professor of neurology at the medical center, said Tyson was being kept there for observation and diagnostic tests and that his condition was "quite stable."

Britton said Tyson, who was recuperating from a broken bone in his right hand suffered in a street fight two weeks ago with heavyweight Mitch Green, was brought to Columbia after his car skidded off a slippery road.

Dan Klores, a spokesman for Tyson, said Tyson's car was the only vehicle involved and no one else was present.

A relative of a friend of Tyson's said the accident occurred while Tyson was driving his BMW out of the yard at his adopted family's home in Catskill and it skidded and slammed into a tree. He was found, apparently unconscious, by members of the household.

"Mike was just leaning back in his car seat and I took his pulse," said Yvonne Conrad, a niece of Camille Ewald, whom Tyson has been close to since he began training in Catskill eight years ago.

"He was normal, his breathing wasn't heavy or labored. I didn't hear anything wrong with him. We just couldn't arouse him. We tried to wake him up by asking `Mike, Mike,' and we just couldn't get anything from him."

However, Tyson's condition was much improved later Sunday.

"He suffered minor trauma to the head and the chest wall," Britton said. "He's neurologically normal."

Ewald told The New York Times in today's editions that the "car skidded and ran into a tree, skinned the tree badly, then bounced away and hit shrubbery."

"When I opened the car door, his head was slumped backward. I slapped him on the cheek to wake him. He opened his eyes, and said, `Camille, Camille, what happened?' Then he went out again," she said.

Ewald said Tyson's wife, actress Robin Givens, and his mother-in-law, Ruth Roper, wanted Tyson taken to Columbia Presbyterian because they know the doctors there.

Tyson's wife was in the back of the ambulance with him and tried to put a sheet over the windows to keep camera crews from photographing her husband.