Thursday, 25 April 2013 00:00
Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson has successfully introduced to the world the kinder and gentler sides of his personality in films such as The Hangover and Scary Movie 5.
But Comedy Central’s celebrity roast joke writers have longer memories, with one comedian observing that the tattoo on Tyson’s face offered future dates a target to shoot with their pepper spray.
By all accounts, the 46-year-old Tyson held little back about his tumultuous past when his one-man show, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, premiered last year on Broadway. He’ll be bringing it to the NYCB Theatre in Westbury on Sunday, May 5, at 7 p.m. The show is being promoted as a rare, personal look inside the life and mind of one of the most feared men ever to wear the heavyweight crown.
“After a successful run at the MGM in Las Vegas and on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre with Spike Lee, I’m excited to take Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth on tour and share it with my fans across the country,” said Tyson, according to the show’s production notes. “Undisputed Truth is my story — I’m giving my all. I’m proud to take the show nationwide, and it’s a privilege to continue working with The Nederlander Organization.”
Tyson has for this project recruited credible entertainment industry figures. It makes one wonder how differently Tyson’s life would have unfolded had he not aligned himself with boxing promoter Don King when Tyson was at a pivotal point in his athletic career.
It is difficult to know where to start when summarizing Tyson’s life story, but the basics are well known. He was a boxing prodigy from upstate Catskill, when legendary trainer Cus D’Amato took Tyson under his wing. Jimmy Jacobs and Bill Cayton, Tyson’s first co-managers, set him on the path that culminated in 1986, when he became the youngest-ever heavyweight boxing champion. Tyson’s career continued to soar until 1991, when Tyson was knocked out by Buster Douglas in one of the most stunning upsets in sports history.
Tyson’s personal life was increasingly a mess, even as he made millions of dollars a year as a professional fighter. He had an ill-fated marriage to actress Robin Givens, and was convicted of raping a beauty pageant contestant, a crime for which he spent three years in prison. No charges were brought against Tyson after he famously bit Evander Holyfield’s ear in a 1997 title bout.
Time has marched on, and that has worked to Tyson’s benefit. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011 and has monetized his reputation as a man you shouldn’t mess with.
My favorite enterprise is his deal with a company that will, for a fee, have a “threatening” Tyson-voiced phone message left for a friend or colleague. Tyson says, in part, “I’ve got some issues with you, and they told me [select annoyance]. You think I don’t know? Look, I’ve been a nice guy for the last couple of years and I’ve been cleaning up my image, as well. But I haven’t always been a nice guy and when I hear stuff like this it makes me think of all the money and all the time I spent going to anger-management therapy…it seems like a waste of money, you know…So why don’t you just do both of us a favor, alright, and knock it off, before I come knock you out! And I thought I had made so much progress!”
Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net