Mike Tyson’s life has been quite the ride for the 47-year old Brooklyn native. Interesting, controversial and inspiring are all words that can describe the things Mike Tyson has accomplished and been through.
Tyson debuted his one-man show in Las Vegas in August of 2012 and then teamed up with Spike Lee to bring the show to Broadway. This year he took “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” on the road for a 36-city tour, which wrapped up in May. Lee then turned the show into an HBO documentary, which airs on November 16 at 8PM. We spoke with Tyson to get some details on his film, his new boxing promoting company, and more.
What made you decide to go on tour with a one-man show focusing on your life?
Mike Tyson: Well, I saw Chazz Palminteri do it with A Bronx Tale on stage and I was explaining to my wife that I think I can do that, I think I can do that. Because when I’m in Asia or Europe I’m talking about my life and my career, but I’m taking questions from the crowd. This particular situation, if I do it, I’m going do it like Mr. Palminteri and just do it from an artistic point of view.
Why did you feel like Spike Lee was the perfect choice to direct your story?
MT: Spike came to me and wanted to do it. I respect Spike and I just thought he was the right guy for me to do it.
In the show, was it difficult to balance the more serious aspects of your life with the humorous moments?
MT: Well at first, I wanted it to be more like a suspense kind of drama on stage, not as comical. I then stopped getting personal about it and realized that people are laughing and if they are happy that means it’s a good show. It happened to turn out really good. After Spike got involved with it and took it to Broadway, it took on a life of its own.
Was there anything you wanted to talk about in the show but were unable to due to time restrictions or other reasons?
MT: A lot of stuff got left out because it’s so time restricting. My life in Arizona was pretty interesting. I was in the gym training and I was being interviewed by a boxing reporter. He’s a very frail guy, a very small man and just very timid. Probably a week later, the FBI complained that I know him because I was on his website. And I said, hey I may have been a little aggressive when I’m talking, trying to be the tough guy in the interview and if I offended him or hurt his feelings, I apologize, I was sorry. And the FBI was telling me, no Mr. Tyson, he likes you. He didn’t like the 19 people that he shot and the 14 people that he killed. I was like woah. He was The Baseline Sniper. He was going around sniping and shooting people.
That’s a crazy story.
MT: Tell me about it.
You had said that signing with Don King was like signing a deal with the devil, could you tell us why you said that?
MT: Well I said that because he stole a lot of money and he had a fiduciary duty to watch my back and take care of me and he didn’t.
Can you talk a little about your new boxing venture?
MT: It’s Iron Mike productions and I’m joined by a guy named Garry Jonas. He’s a businessman, very savvy. He wanted to get involved with boxing and asked me to get involved with his promotion. It turned out to be good for me so I decided to do it.
Which of your fighters do you see being the next big thing?
MT: Well I have a world champion at 130 pounds named Argenis Mendez from Dominican Republic. I have a sensational fighter by the name of Erickson Lubin, he was the stand out to make the Olympics and he’s 140 pounds and should fight in his professional debut sometime this year.
How do you react when hearing your name in popular songs like in Jay-Z’s “Holy Grail”?
MT: Hey, what can I say? I’m very grateful. I’m very out of the loop about songs and what’s going on in pop culture, but people tell me about them, my children tell me about things, and I’m just very grateful that people would even notice to talk about me. I had my turn, I had my reign, and it’s over. I didn’t think I’d still be relevant so I’m just very grateful for whatever they say about me.
You’ve been through a lot in your career, do you have any advice for those trying to follow in your footsteps?
MT: I’d just try to stay on a path, I’m not saying that I am humble, I’m not saying that. Because just the fact that I’m saying the word humble proves that I’m not humble. But I try to stay on that path of humbleness. And sometimes trying to embark on this new lifestyle I have a lapse of humanity and say something I shouldn’t have said. But you know, it’s not going happen overnight because I wasn’t humble, I wasn’t a humble guy for so many years so you know it’s going be hard to be humbled overnight. And that’s why the situation concerning Chris Brown, you know, what he did was so courageous going into this rehab. But just like he’s a beast on stage, you got to be a beast in that rehab. And tell all his friends leave, you got to leave me here alone. I got to serve on my knees now and I got to listen to these people. And under the rule, I have to serve. He has to serve and he has to realize that these people are telling him the right things to do and he has to become better as a person as far as his temper is concerned.
What does Mike Tyson have planned for the future?
MT: My wife and I are going to start working behind the scenes, we’re going to produce our own shows, our own Broadway plays, stage shows, television, movies, you know, god willing. And that’s what we want to do, we want to make a family business out of this.
-Joe Money (@RealJoeMoney)