By Jackie Kallen
There was a time when Mike Tyson’s objection in life was to hurt people. He had a frighteningly rough edge and actually enjoyed doling out pain.
“I used to be all about making myself and my friends rich. Boxing was a path to that. Now my focus in life has shifted entirely. Now I want to help people through my Mike Tyson Cares Foundation. And doing my one man show enables me to get out there and promote it, raise money, and show the world who Mike Tyson is today.”
That is an understatement. During a recent interview, Iron Mike showed a very different side of himself. He was mellow, funny, and relaxed. He talked openly and enthusiastically about his one-man show that is set to start a national 10-week, 36 city tour on Feb. 12.
“I love it so much,” he said. “I have learned so much about myself through this show. I have discovered new things about Mike Tyson. I found that I am an interesting guy. And I love entertaining people. Whatever I do, I want to be successful at it. Whether I was in the ring or on a stage now–I do not like to fail.”
His show is being helmed by famed director Spike Lee. Tyson explained that having him on board has been “awesome.”
“Spike has been wonderful. He has helped me so much. I first met him years ago when he did a piece on me that aired before the Alex Stewart fight. He did a great job and I have tremendous respect for him. We make a good team.”
As he goes through the 80+ minute set, Mike relives a lot of his memories, many of them painful.
“A lot of the stories I tell are difficult for me to tell. I still feel the pain as I recall some of my lowest moments. I also have to occasionally deal with hecklers and that can get uncomfortable, but dealing with the memories is what the show is all about. I knew that when I signed on to do this. I am no stranger to pain.
“The difference between this and boxing is that I don’t go to the hospital after. And it’s kind of strange that the audiences tend to laugh at some of my worst memories. I still can’t figure that out. I pour my heart out about the most intimate, real things and people laugh. Go figure.”
“Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” will hit many of the top US cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Phoenix, St. Louis and DC. It opens in Indianapolis, the scene of his rape incident back in 1992, 20 years ago.
“That doesn’t bother me,” said Iron Mike. “I love that city. I have many friends there. It turned out that being in prison was a gift for me. I grew from that experience. So I have no negative feelings associated with that city.”
Mike turns 47 right after the tour ends. He still can’t believe he is alive and doing so well at this age.
“I never expected to even reach 25. That surprises me today if I think about it. I have been blessed. I have messed up many times in many ways and I am here to talk about it. Damn. I am a lucky man.”
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen