Mike Tyson, undeniably one of the most publicized names in the history of boxing, is soon to add another dimension to his turbulent life: Broadway star. At a press conference in New York this month, Tyson unveiled his plan to take on Broadway as his next opponent, using his autobiographical work, The Undisputed Truth, as a backdrop for a play about his life.
The former heavyweight champ describes the book as “the raw tale” of his life.
“It’s about me being on stage and being pretty raw. Not necessarily raw in a vulgar sense … I’m just naked and vulnerable, and I’m just telling you who I am and where I’m from and how this happened and how I lose all this damn money and how I had all these children and how I go to prison and, you know, you know what happened guys, right?” Tyson told reporters on June 19.
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee, who will be making his Broadway directorial debut, the one-man show portrays Tyson himself recounting gritty tales of his family life and early childhood that led to his detention as a juvenile delinquent at the age of 12 in upstate New York, tales of his rocky marriage to actress Robin Givens, his rise to the pinnacle of his sport at age 20, drug usage, court cases, and time in prison and in a psychiatric facility.
Tyson admits, without apology, the tales are not pretty. “I’m not up here doing sob stories—‘Oh woe is me’,” he told the press. Frequent mention is made in the play of his heart rending relationship with his trainer and surrogate father, Cus D’Amato. “I’m really just excited about this genre here,” exclaimed Tyson, 46.
Always outspoken and no stranger to controversy as a filmmaker, Lee is ecstatic about the Tyson project. “We love great stories… and this is a great story!” he declared at the press conference. He spoke admiringly of Tyson. “It takes courage to get into the ring, but it takes courage to get onto the stage. Denzel [Washington]’s not playing Mike, it’s not Sam Jackson. It’s Mike Tyson, in person, on stage. That takes a lot of courage,” he said.
The pair played to the crowd of onlookers, making the press conference seem like a fight-night media event. At times Lee pretended to photograph Tyson as the ex-champ threw a barrage of shadow punches at a mythical opponent.
Tyson clearly has an affinity for show business. He appeared in the Hollywood films The Hangover and The Hangover II, and last year starred in his own reality show on the TV channel, Animal Planet. The show, Taking On Tyson, showcased Tyson’s legendary passion for pigeons and pigeon racing.
Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth is being billed as a raw confessional. Already performed in Las Vegas to positive reviews, it is slated to run at The Longacre Theatre on West 48th Street for six “rounds” only, between July 31 and Aug. 5. Tickets range from $75 to $199, with VIP seats going for $300 a piece.
After seeing the play, the public will have a better understanding of “why I look at the world from a different perspective than most people,” Tyson says.