Iron Mike Tyson brings his one-man show, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, to the Peabody Opera House (14th and Market streets; 314-241-1888; tickets $35 to $350) at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 5, as part of a 36-city tour for the Spike Lee-directed monologue. Producers are billing the show as "a rare, personal look inside the life and mind of one of the most feared men ever to wear the heavyweight crown."
You'll have to judge the rare and personal aspects for yourself, but about the "most-feared heavyweight" there can be no debate.
Born in 1966, Tyson grew up on the mean streets of Brooklyn, where he started out fighting older kids who made fun of his famously high-pitched voice. Arrested for petty crimes dozens of times by the age of thirteen, he lost his mother at sixteen and was rescued from reform school by a boxing manager. Debuting as "Kid Dynamite," Tyson knocked out his first nineteen opponents, most of them in the first round, and at age twenty was the undisputed world heavyweight champ.
This ushered in the "Iron Mike Tyson" era of superstardom, a celebrity marriage (to actress Robin Givens) and seemingly limitless wealth.
But Tyson found ways to lose it all.
Fearsome first-round knockouts and Nintendo's best-selling Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! game were replaced in the public's consciousness by a rape conviction, a three-year prison stint and a long comeback that went haywire, most famously when the former champ bit chunks out of Evander Holyfield's ears during a bout. More legal problems followed, as well as the infamous quote, "I want to eat your heart, I want to eat your children," directed at boxer Lennox Lewis, whom Tyson attacked and bit during a press conference.
Having earned an estimated $300 million over the course of his career, Tyson declared bankruptcy in 2003. By 2005 he was telling the press, "My whole life has been a waste -- I've been a failure."
Yet another arrest -- for DUI and cocaine possession in 2006 -- seemed to find Tyson ready to confront his demons. He entered drug-addiction treatment and began to reform his reputation as "The Baddest Man on the Planet."
In recent years Tyson has led a quieter life, tending his beloved pigeons, making cameos in films such as The Hangover and maintaining sobriety while recovering from the loss of one of his children, four-year-old Exodus, who died in accident after becoming tangled in a treadmill cord in 2009.
Daily RFT caught up earlier this week with Tyson to talk about the show and his life today. (Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.)
Tony D'Souza: A two-hour monologue! Is it going to be heavy, funny or what? Are we going to learn more about who you really are?
Mike Tyson: You can expect to be entertained. You won't look at me as Mike Tyson the boxer. After seeing the show, you will look at me as Mike Tyson the man. You will see that although I have been through a lot I hold no grudges, and if there is anything I want people to take away from this it would be: It's not what you go through in life, it's how you get through it.
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