Mike Tysonthe man, the myth, the legendis the former heavyweight champion of the world holding the record for holding multiple titles at only 20 years old. He was later inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
This native New Yorker appeared in the Hangover movies, playing himself and entertaining a whole new generation in the process.
A pigeon lover by heart with fists of gold, Tyson wanted to set the record straight in his own words with a one-man Broadway show. Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth went on a 36-city national tour that brought him to Chicago last year. Directed by Spike Lee, the piece displays both his professional and personal life on stage through confessions. HBO featured the show on a television special this past November to rave reviews.
Last summer he created a boxing promotion company called Iron Mike Productions with a huge roster of fighters to continue his tradition.
Tyson returns to our neck of the woods with his show giving audiences another chance to see his big hit in person. Get to know the king of TKO in this Nunn on One interview.
Windy City Times: Hi, Mike.
Mike Tyson: Hey, buddy. What's going on?
WCT: I saw your show at the Cadillac Palace Theatre when you were last here. How was your experience being in Chicago?
Mike Tyson: I have some close friends in Chicago. It was just great to be able to spend time with them.
WCT: How has the show developed since that time?
Mike Tyson: It changes all the time. It just depends on the people.
WCT: Do you feed off the audience?
Mike Tyson: A hundred percent, yes. I ad-lib a great deal. It is scripted some but there are now more ad libs than the script!
WCT: Are you more comfortable speaking in front of people now?
Mike Tyson: It is funny that you say that because if I was giving a speech in a room about business I don't know if I would do as well at entertaining somebody as I do at talking about my life. It is two different things. When I went to Hong Kong to give a speech for a multibillion-dollar corporation, it was different. There wasn't an entertainment perspective in the air, you know?
WCT: How did Spike Lee help you develop the show?
Mike Tyson: He just made it where I am by myself. You see before I had a rock band with me, a vocalist, and a classical piano player. I am doing it all by myself now.
WCT: So he just told you didn't need all the extra stuff?
Mike Tyson: Yes.
WCT: Do you have a favorite movie of his?
Mike Tyson: Jungle Fever.
WCT: That's a good one. What has been a surprise reaction from the audience so far with the Undisputed Truth?
Mike Tyson: Some people said it has changed their [lives]. I am sure people have experienced things in the show but have not felt comfortable talking about it. I am not trying to glorify myself. A lot of it is about being honest and telling all of my flaws and how I have overcome my adversities.
WCT: I was surprised you had been bullied when you were younger and that was covered in the show.
Mike Tyson: Oh, yeah. Any way a human being can be abused they got me. There are some really evil people out there.
WCT: With being on Twitter you probably have to deal with some haters even these days.
Mike Tyson: Hey, that doesn't bother me. I can deal with that but there people right there with physical confrontation in life that would do anything to a human being that can be done.
WCT: Is it hard reliving these stories night after night?
Mike Tyson: When I did my book it was really hard. When I was on stage it wasn't too hard because I was being very objective. It wasn't me Mike Tyson but a guy performing Mike Tyson's life.
WCT: So talk about writing the Undisputed Truth book.
Mike Tyson: Writing the book I had no idea it would get the fan response that it did. It became an international best seller in quite a few countries. I was just very grateful for that.
WCT: You are returning to Chicago at the UIC Pavilion Feb. 7 as a boxing promoter. How is that project going for you?
Mike Tyson: It is starting off slow but it's picking up. I am just grateful because being Mike Tyson it picked up quicker. It is normal for it to start off slow.
WCT: Who are you promoting?
Mike Tyson: I have many. There's a guy named Erickson Lubin who was a prospect for the Olympics in 2016 but he signed with me. He's real talented. I got Claudio Marrero, who is a 126-pounder who is fighting in there.
I am just really looking forward to all of this that is coming forth. There will be a crew of new fighters and it just all looks good.
WCT: That must be the fun partto go out and recruit people.
Mike Tyson: Absolutely.
WCT: Are you still vegan?
Mike Tyson: I am not vegan but I am kind of like it. I don't drink milk or stuff like that. I do eat some fish.
WCT: I have a vegan animal-loving friend that I brought to your show at the Cadillac, and it meant a lot to her with all of your pigeon references. When did your attachment to pigeons start?
Mike Tyson: When I was 8 years old. One of my first fights happened over a pigeon. Someone stole my bird and killed him!
WCT: That's terrible. You have pet pigeons currently?
Mike Tyson: I will always have some until the day I die.
WCT: What are their names?
Mike Tyson: They don't have names. It is just what you do to have them. I can't explain it. When I am dead and 90 years old, I will have pigeons with me. Someone is going to have to come take them from me when I die. It is like a culture.
WCT: We will make sure they go to a good home. [Tyson laughs.] Did you have fun at the Golden Globes? It looked like you had a blast.
Mike Tyson: I had a ball!
WCT: You just ran around and met celebrities all night?
Mike Tyson: Yeah. I hung out with them and took pictures with them.
WCT: Do you have a favorite Hangover moment from the movies?
Mike Tyson: I liked the second one when I was singing and dancing. That was funny!
WCT: You live in Vegas, so do you gamble when you visit a casino like Horseshoe?
Mike Tyson: Not at all. Not even a little bit.
WCT: On the improvised movie Black and White were you truly surprised when Robert Downey Jr. kissed you?
Mike Tyson: Well, it was a surprise. The director wanted me to really hit him and I didn't want to. He said, "You gotta real do this shit, man! If you want to be an actor then you have to smack the shit out of him!" It did look real, didn't it?
WCT: People think it was real.
Mike Tyson: It was reala real smack. When he was on the floor he was kicking me and I yelled, "Ow!"
WCT: He's a character in real life. I met him at a dinner.
Mike Tyson: People don't realize he has had an amazing comeback. His comeback is right up there with mine.
WCT: Yes, and truly great to see. You are up for an NAACP Image Award with Undisputed Truth for Outstanding Variety Series Or Special.
Mike Tyson: Yes, I am nominated. I was watching the preview on television and Jamie Foxx was on there. I was like, "Whoa!"
WCT: Congrats on that, Mike!
Mike Tyson: Thank you.
WCT: Do you want to have more updates to this show or make a whole other show someday?
Mike Tyson: I would like to do another show and produce shows. It is going to be interesting. Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth took on a life of its own. We are in at least ten other countries, countries that don't even speak English! We are going to try to put a hold on this and do some new stuff but we will see.
WCT: Have you had a favorite place you have travelled to so far?
Mike Tyson: Mannn, I have been to a bunch. I was just in Dubai and back. I think we are going to England, France, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries. I can't even believe it!
WCT: To think this whole idea for this Truth project came out of you seeing Chazz Palminteri's one man show A Bronx Tale in New York.
Mike Tyson: Yeahisn't that crazy? The person that was inspired is now bigger than the person that inspired him. Nobody knows who Anne Sullivan is but everyone knows who Helen Keller is. It is like that!
Get ready for Tyson to talk your ear off Saturday, Feb. 8, at The Venue, 777 Casino Center Dr., Hammond, Ind. See www.horseshoehammond.com/shows.html .
For more on the upcoming Friday Night Fight in Chicago, visit www.ironmikeproductions.com .