You could read all about Mike Tyson in a book or online, but nothing beats hearing that story from the man who lived it. In his show, "Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth" at MGM Grand, the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world talks candidly about his life and career.
The show features images, video footage and Tyson delivering vignettes from his past in an intimate setting. He shares his experiences as a professional athlete along with many of the trials and tribulations he faced along the way. Raw and electrifying, the show is a live autobiography of one of the most complex public figures in the media today.
Wearing a suit jacket and slacks Tyson begins by describing his childhood and growing up in the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y. He's accompanied by a live band including a piano player and a singer. They create background music while Tyson is speaking. The musicians also perform songs when he's not talking, which help Tyson segue to a new topic.
As Tyson speaks, two screens hanging over the stage project images and video footage that coincide with his script. At the beginning of the show, the screens feature a picture of Tyson's mother. While talking, he turns and faces the pictures with a curious admiration that probably mimics what some people in the audience are experiencing. Who was that woman? What impact did she have on Tyson's life and career? Tyson attempts to answer this during his 75-minute show.
If you don't know that much about Tyson, you'll be well versed in everything from his first fight to his struggle with addiction by the end of the show. No topic is left untouched. Boxing fans will like hearing Tyson, one of the best heavyweight boxers of all time, talk about his rise to fame, but his compelling story captivates everyone in the audience.
Tyson grew up in a rough neighborhood. He explains that by the time he was 13 he had already been arrested more than 30 times. He jokes that going to the juvenile detention center was like "Cheers" for him, everyone there knew his name.
Tyson spends a lot of time talking about his manager and trainer Cus D'Amato. Tyson's mother died when he was 16, prompting D'Amato to become his legal guardian. Tyson describes how D'Amato was a master at psychological warfare. D'Amato gave Tyson the confidence and courage he needed to succeed, but he was also a master of manipulation, something Tyson only realized later on in life.
As Tyson recounts more of his life, it's clear that he's in a much different place right now then when he was back in his boxing heyday. He admits to blowing his money on "stupid s***," making bad relationship choices and having an addictive personality, a trait he says he inherited from his mother. Today, he's able to laugh about it and uses some of his shortfalls as comic fodder.
There are many high and low points that Tyson discusses in the show. He's no stranger to the media and offers guests a firsthand look at his divorce from actress Robin Givens, being convicted of rape, biting off Evander Holyfield's ear and his arrest for driving under the influence and cocaine possession. These are some of the worst moments in his life, and Tyson doesn't hold back when talking about them. Instead, he seems wrapped up in his memories and sometimes digresses to a side story much like people do in everyday conversation.
Despite all of his struggles, Tyson explains that he has a different outlook on life. He mentions his feud with boxing promoter Don King and encourages any fans in the audience to forgive him like he has. He explains that forgiveness is behind a lot of what he does these days. Things may be less tumultuous for Tyson now, but his tale of redemption is ongoing. Today he says he's working at being a better husband and father.
At the end of the show he tells the audience, "I hope you leave knowing something more about me, Mike Tyson. I hope you take something for yourself." Tyson isn't throwing punches in the ring any more, but listening to his story may just knock you off your feet.