Be forewarned: Mike Tyson wants to show off his sensitive side.
“Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” hits the Orpheum Theatre for three nights beginning Feb. 28. The one-man show chronicles the 46-year-old former undisputed heavyweight-boxing champion’s headline-filled life, from his rise to fame in and out of the boxing ring since the 1980s to his lesser-known personal transformations.
Director Spike Lee has called the outing a tale of “redemption.”
“But I don’t look at it like that,” Tyson says. “It’s about me telling my story. People may know me, but they don’t know the underlying facts of my life — about my ex-wife Robin [Givens], about the ear-biting situation [with boxer Evander Holyfield in 1997] and me going to prison [on rape charges from 1992-95].
“Nothing is off limits.”
In the show, Tyson talks about how he went from being a small kid with low self-esteem in Brooklyn, N.Y., to coming up against a “megalomaniac with a big personality,” his mentor, the late Cus D’Amato.
“When I met the man, that was when I became a genuine narcissist,” Tyson says with a chuckle. “The guy was always praising me. He taught me how to reaffirm myself, that no one was better than me. And I was just a 12-year-old kid at the time. I didn’t know what I was doing.
“I am just happy that I got those insights,” he says. “And that now, I am doing this and actually being honest with myself.”
Often dubbed “Iron Mike” or “Kid Dynamite,” Tyson won 26 of his first 28 fights by knockout or technical knockout — 16 occurred in the first round. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and World Boxing Hall of Fame. Divorced twice (from Givens and Monica Turner), he has been married to Lakiha Spicer (also known as Kiki Tyson, and the writer of “Undisputed Truth”) since 2009.
Tyson is also the father of eight children, a subject that finds him reflecting on significant turning points, particularly the death of his 4-year-old daughter Exodus in 2009.
“My life flashed before me and I just lost that ‘other guy’ — the drug addict, the cool dude, the macaroni, the ‘god,’” Tyson says of the tragedy. “I don’t know where he went. He disappeared somewhere.”
He says that after many years of fighting “temptations,” he is now able to live a more functional life with his family.
“I always thought I was hard and tough — that I really didn’t care about much — and that was what saved me, but I realized I am really just this soft, fragile individual.”