Mike Tyson: 'I Was Damaged Before I Even Entered Boxing'
People can change, and the truth is, Mike Tyson is a changed man. His life embodies what legends are made of: making something out of nothing; becoming one of the most feared boxers in the ring; emerging as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world; then spiraling down with jail time, money woes, lawsuits and, in his 1997 comeback bout, even biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear. Tyson's life has no doubt been a whirlwind of highs and lows, but these days, it has leveled out, and he has changed for the better.
Just when you think you know everything about "Iron Mike," you realize you don't even know the half of it. His one-man show, "Undisputed Truth," is coming to the City National Grove of Anaheim for one night on Wednesday, March 6, and is as hard-hitting as the man himself. It gives you the unusual chance to get your own ringside seats for a personal look into the mind of Mike Tyson, delivered in his own words.
Before this knockout performance, we just couldn't let the opportunity pass to find out how this show has changed his life, to get his thoughts on boxing these days, and to learn what could possibly be next for the man, the myth, the legend.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): Did you plan for your national tour to start in Indiana so you could visit the jail at which you spent time as a reminder of the positive life you lead now?
Mike Tyson: The tour launching in Indiana wasn't planned that way; it was planned by a higher power. Initially, I was very nervous about returning, but it turned out to be a huge blessing. I visited with the warden, and he told me he was proud of me. This trip brought a lot of closure that I didn't even realize I needed. Something heavy was lifted. I was so happy I went back. I suppose there was something therapeutic about the experience, even though I didn't approach it that way. But in hindsight, absolutely!
Do you feel as though boxing has changed a lot since you left? There really are no heavyweight champs like there were in your era. I mean, it's like the flash and glitz is gone!
Boxing has changed some, but it will return once a great and exciting contender is back. There is a lot of excitement in the lower weight classes. Boxing paved the way to a life I could never have imagined. So, I will always be appreciative of the sport.
I saw that you wrote on Twitter, "I was damaged before I even entered boxing." What did you mean by that?
I grew up in a pretty bad state. Boxing was perfect for a broken, mean kid like me. We were meant for each other. I had a lot of anger, and boxing fueled it. But it also helped to channel my anger. I may have been in far more trouble without boxing.
It's great that you give back with the Mike Tyson Cares Foundation, but have you ever thought of starting a boxing program for kids to teach them the fundamentals?
I don't know. Although I love what boxing did for me, I don't like how ferocious I had to be when I was that top guy. I don't know if I could help kids in that way because of how extreme I was when I was fighting. I don't want to teach kids that violence is the answer to any problem. I would rather help give kids opportunities to better themselves through other means. But this is how I feel now. Perhaps in the future, my outlook will be much different.
I watched you on Law and Order: SUV recently. How did the role come about, and do you have plans to get into more serious roles such as that one?
My agent, Chris Smith, called me with the opportunity, and I jumped at the chance. I really enjoyed working with everyone. I am looking into other serious roles, although I love comedy. My show has many elements of a standup performance. Who knows? I may even try a full standup show one day!
That would be awesome! So, during your one night in Anaheim, what will you cover?
The people of Anaheim can expect to see me give my all. I talk about the headlines of my life, but in my own words. It's like nothing you would expect from me. You will see many layers of me. I can't wait to entertain you guys.
Mike Tyson's "Undisputed Truth" is at the City National Grove of Anaheim, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 712-2700; www.citynationalgroveofanaheim.com. March 6, 8 p.m. $37.50. For more info, visit www.tysonontour.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeTyson.