NEW YORK — From the boxing ring to Broadway — Mike Tyson said he’s teaming up with director Spike Lee to take his one-man show “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” to the New York stage.
Tyson, the former heavyweight world champion and self-styled “baddest man on the planet”, debuted the show in Las Vegas in April, pulling few punches in recounting the highs and highly publicized lows of his career.
Now he plans to bring the show to the Longacre Theatre for six nights only, July 31 to August 5, in what will be a Broadway debut for both Tyson and Lee.
“I’m very vulnerable and I’m just telling you who I am and where I’m from and how this happened,” Tyson said at a news conference at the Longacre.
Tyson, who like Lee hails from Brooklyn, gained fame in 1986 when he became the youngest ever heavyweight world champion at the age of 20.
But fame and fortune were accompanied by turmoil, including a prison sentence for rape, drug addiction and bursts of temper outside the ring that made him tabloid fodder.
Late in his career his fearsome ring reputation gained a bizarre tinge when he bit opponent Evander Holyfield’s ear in a fight.
In recent years Tyson has faced charges of cocaine possession and drunken driving, and dealt with personal tragedy with the accidental death of his 4-year-old daughter, Exodus.
However, he has also been seen in a new light by audiences who enjoyed his cameo role in the movie “The Hangover” and shown a gentle side in a reality television series exploring his love of training pigeons.
“It takes courage to get in the ring,” Lee said. “But it takes courage to get on the stage.”
Tyson, 46, said that the show would be “raw” and “filthy” but that he would also show his vulnerable side.
In the show, Tyson runs through his life story, from his birth in Brooklyn to a mother who was a prostitute and a father he believed was a pimp, although he never knew for sure who his real father was.
He was a hardened criminal by the time his mother died when he was 16. It was then that his boxing mentor, Cus d’Amato, helped him turn his back on crime and detention centers and refocus his life around his awesome fighting talent.
He discusses his first marriage to actress Robin Givens, which unraveled in 1989, and the “demons” that gradually got the better of him.
In 1992, Tyson was convicted of raping a beauty queen at a pageant in Indianapolis, Indiana. He served three years of a six-year sentence before his release in 1995, steadfastly denying he raped the woman.
In 1997, he infamously bit Holyfield’s ears twice in a heavyweight title rematch and was banished from boxing for a year.
The boxer filed for bankruptcy in 2003, the same year his second marriage ended. He married his current wife in 2009.
Lee is the director behind such films as “Do the Right Thing”, “Malcolm X” and “Inside Man”, and many of his films deal with race relations in America.
He said he signed on for the project after seeing a recording of Tyson’s Las Vegas show.
“It’s a great story and he tells it masterfully,” said Lee, who calls it a tale of redemption that only needs some tweaking from the Vegas edition.
“He’s lifted himself off the canvas.”