Fighting legend Mike Tyson has swopped the boxing ring for the cabaret stage, in a new one-man show which pulls few punches in recounting his roller-coaster life.
In a stand-up act he hopes to take to Broadway and beyond, the ex-world champion tackles head on the most controversial episodes, including his imprisonment for rape – he insists he was wrongly convicted – and his struggle with drugs.
Talking in sometimes frenetic bursts almost non-stop for two hours – and showing some nifty footwork to musical numbers from a jazz-rock ensemble – he also recalls the good times when his talent brought him fortune and fame.
“Welcome to my living room,” said the 45-year-old, opening the first night on Friday in an intimate 740-seater theatre in the MGM Grand casino complex in Las Vegas.
“Many of you are wondering what the hell am I going to do up on the stage tonight,” he joked at the start of Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, Live on Stage. “To be honest I’m wondering the same thing too.”
The answer is a blow-by-blow run-through his life story, starting with his birth in Brooklyn and not knowing who his real father was, his early brushes with the law, and his mother’s death when he was 16.
It was then that his boxing mentor, Cus d’Amato, helped him turn his back on crime and detention centres and refocus his life around his awesome fighting talent.
“I had a lot of emotional problems,” he said, evoking a theme of the show, in which Tyson uses an array of expletives to describe stupid things he has done over the years.
His bad behaviour didn’t prevent him from becoming the youngest ever heavyweight champion of the world at 20, after winning his first 19 professional bouts by knockouts.
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.
Tyson reclaimed the heavyweight throne, but lost to Evander Holyfield in 1996 and in a 1997 rematch bit Holyfield’s ears twice, serving a year’s banishment in exile for the move. – Sapa-AFP