NEW YORK, N.Y. – Mike Tyson wants his next knockout to be on Broadway.
The former boxer announced Monday that he will team up with director Spike Lee to bring his one-man show, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” to the Longacre Theatre for six nights only, July 31 to Aug. 5.
The show, a raw confessional on the highs and lows of the life of the retired heavyweight and tabloid target, will mark both Tyson’s and Lee’s debut on Broadway. It made its debut in April for a week-long run at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“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, wearing white pants, a white shirt and a grey jacket.
Tyson, like Lee a Brooklyn native, became the youngest-ever heavyweight champion in 1986, when he won his title as a 20-year-old. His life since then has been marred by accusations of domestic violence, rape and drug use.
“It takes courage to get in the ring,” said Lee, who urges theatregoers to have an open mind when it comes to the work. “But it takes courage to get on the stage.”
Tyson, 46, said he was inspired to do a one-man show after watching Chazz Palminteri tell stories about growing up in his show “A Bronx Tale.” The boxer said: “I’m really just excited about this genre here.”
Tyson said that the show would be “raw” and “filthy” and that he would show his vulnerable side. It will include tales about his stormy marriage to actress Robin Givens, his time in prison, his relationship with his trainer and surrogate father, Cus D’Amato, and the time he spent in a psychiatric clinic as a result of his addiction to cocaine. One story sure to return is one in which he spotted Givens returning to her home in his car with Brad Pitt.
Lee is the director behind such films as “Do the Right Thing,” ”Malcolm X” and “Inside Man,” and much of his films make bold statements about race relations in the United States. He said he saw a DVD recording of Tyson’s show in Las Vegas and immediately signed up. The pair will start work on it after the July Fourth holiday.
“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.”
Tyson began boxing in a facility for juvenile delinquents in upstate New York at the age of 12. Eight years later, he became the youngest heavyweight champion ever when he knocked out Trevor Berbick.
But in 1990, he was defeated by James “Buster” Douglas in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, and soon after he was convicted of raping a beauty pageant contestant in Indianapolis. Tyson, who still denies he raped the woman, served three years in prison.
As his career continued, so did his bizarre behaviour. He bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a boxing match and once threatened to eat the children of heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.
Over the past few years, there have been charges of cocaine possession, driving under the influence, scuffles with photographers, parts in films like “The Hangover” franchise and tragedy, including the accidental death of his 4-year-old daughter, Exodus. He said he’s been clean and happily remarried for the past few years.
His show follows a line of recent one-man shows to hit Broadway, including ones by William Shatner, Hugh Jackman and Kathy Griffin. They’re cheaper than a full-blown production and more flexible, both godsends to theatre owners with empty venues. Tickets for Tyson’s show are priced $75 to $199, with VIP tickets going for $300.