Mike Tyson Brings His "Undisputed Truth" Tour To Houston Next Week
I'm talking to boxing great and media darling Mike Tyson as he is getting into a car somewhere near Indianapolis, namely the Plainfield Correctional Facility a few miles southwest of town. No, Tyson isn't in trouble again.
But why is Tyson coming back to his prison home of three and a half years, after being gone for nearly two decades since March 25, 1995 for a rape conviction?
"I came to talk to the warden, who is a wonderful person," says Tyson in transit. "I'm reliving my past, and to be honest this is more like therapy than the show."
The boxer and biter of ears lets it drop that Fox is planning its own sports channel to rival ESPN's place on the cable sports throne in the next year. This would mean that every major TV outlet would have a dedicated sports network. He's filming content for them for the upcoming year as one of the first projects that the channel is undertaking.
He is also currently on the Undisputed Truth tour, a speaking jaunt around the country much in the same vein of recent personality tours that fellow pop culture luminaries like William Shatner and Charlie Sheen undertook. Tyson says that nothing is censored, and no part of his life is white-washed for audiences.
The show hits the Bayou Music Center next Wednesday night. To cop an old phrase, Tyson is not pulling any punches with this tour.
Tyson's show had it's beginning as a 10-day event in Las Vegas, which came complete with a live band and video. Fortunately for Tyson it was a smash.
After doing so well in Vegas (he lives in a suburb just ten minutes away) Tyson was approached by director Spike Lee and Broadway producer James L. Nederlander for a run in New York City, which lead to Tyson planning a full-scale tour across the country, with hopes of taking it overseas.
He modeled his show on actor Chazz Palminteri's celebrated one-man version A Bronx Tale, which left him spellbound.
His wife Kiki Tyson wrote the show with Tyson, and she wasn't fazed by the dicier passages from the boxer's life that you'll hear about over the course of the evening. Tyson is an open book.
"She doesn't care about what I did in the past, she only cares about what I do now," says Tyson. "People know what's bullshit, they know my life, so they would know what were lies."
The show is dotted with videos -- directed by Lee -- touching on his family, early training days, his most storied fights, with nothing being off limits.
"It's happy, sad, ambivalent, pissed off, cynical, and it's just a roller coaster ride."
After he's done with the Undisputed Truth run, Tyson is finishing up work on his own memoir with widescreen writer Larry "Ratso" Sloman, a buddy of Kinky Friedman who is best-known for his literary collaborations with Howard Stern, David Blaine, and Anthony Kiedis.
There is also a line of Tyson brand sporting gear he's excited about, with a guy from the Everlast company involved. Then there is also his burgeoning acting career. Most younger people knew him as the singing guy with the menagerie from The Hangover 2 before ever hearing of his boxing exploits or his troubles outside the ring.
Tyson guesting on Law & Order: SVU
These days Tyson is also a noted vegan, shedding 150 pounds with the changed diet. He was even a billboard model in 2011 for vegan causes.
At 46, he still trains daily to keep in shape, doing two hours of cardio and keeping up with a weight-lifting regimen. Standing next to Tyson, you are still amazed at his size, though he's not as hulking as he was in his boxing heyday. Today he has the physique of a pro football player.
He still gets boxing offers, but he declines them.
These days boxing has been replaced with acting as Tyson's labor of love; he just wants a chance to prove himself. The way he sees it, he has an impressive resume as it is.
He had to have his trademark tribal face tattoo cosmetically covered for a role as a death row inmate on Law and Order: SVU a few weeks ago. Being someone other than Mike Tyson was new for him, but he now has the acting bug.
"I would act with a tree if I needed to," he says. "I just love doing it."
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events