He’s got the chops, this Mike Tyson guy, reallly does.
Notice I said “chops” and not “chomps” as on that night in Las Vegas when Don King and I stood stunned in the ring at the MGM and whispered to the promoter something like:
“Hey, DK, be careful not to step on Mr. Holyfield’s earlobe which is lying on the canvas below us.”
King’s first idea for damage control was to send me running after Rev. Jesse Jackson “for a prayer” which I told him wouldn’t help reattach Holyfield’s ear. Bit late, so to speak, for a prayer session, I figured.
Tyson is marvelous, playing himself, in “Undisputed Truth,” which closes after a 12 show run Sunday night at the Longacre Theater. I went to catch Tyson’s tour de force Saturday night and the ex-champ, his writer-producer wife Kiki Tyson and co-producer Spike Lee can all be proud of this production.
There were some weepy but never creepy moments. Tyson hammers away at obvious targets such as King, ex-wife Robin Givens, overbearing mother in law Ruth(less) Roper and maniac Mitch “Blood” Green, who Tyson beat up in a ring and later in a Harlem gutter.
Tyson makes it clear that Green was the strongest foe he ever faced in their street rumble but, then again, neither Holyfield nor Lennox Lewis were flying high on angel dust like Green was.
Maybe it’s just because it’s a live show with less rambling but I feel this attempt at tell almost all of Tyson’s checkered life is superior to the earlier James Toback documentary on the fighter.
Tyson also works in mentions of Brad Pitt, who may have been making whoopee with Rocking Robin when she and the boxer were still married, along with his surprise prison visitor Florence Henderson and, of all people, Mitt Romney.
As you would also expect, Tyson mentions his chaotic family life going back to the rough years on Amboy Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Tyson now seems to think his real father was a guy named Percel Tyson but, unless that man looks more like Mike than street hustler/pimp Jimmny Kirkpatrick (who I located and interviewed in my New York Post columnist years) I would beg to differ.
Mike is the spitting image of roustabout Kirkpatrick.
Tyson speaks lovingly of his mother, Lorna, who he said was an alcoholic. And he mentions his sister “Niecey” who died at age 25 but not his older brother Rodney.
The show’s pace is good, except for the overly long Givens and Green segments, and Tyson covers his Tokyo KO shock loss to Buster Douglas and his Indiana rape conviction. Tyson maintains that he never raped Desiree Washington.
King picked powerful Washington lawyer Vince Fuller to defend him in Indianapolis and Tyson still rankles at Fuller’s effort, cracking that “I would’ve been better off with Joe Pesci from ‘My Cousin Vinny.'”
You don’t have to be a Tyson fan or a fight aficionado to enjoy this show.
New York Post theater critic Michael Riedel proved that with a surprising rave review, a portion of which is quoted here:
“Mike Tyson’s “The Undisputed Truth” is the best thing I’ve seen all summer.
“I kid you not.
“Tyson’s life has been one hell of a roller-coaster ride, and he tells it with panache. Sure, he has trouble pronouncing big words — as he himself cheerfully admits — but he says “motherf – ker” and “bitch” with all the conviction of a great method actor…
“And how can you not love a show that settles scores, especially where Robin Givens is concerned? Tyson imitates her using her “phony white voice.”
“He wraps up his show this weekend, so don’t miss it.
“He’s my nominee for this year’s Special Tony Award.”
You might say that Michael Gerard Tyson was born for this role.
They’re going to love this spectacle in London and I bet the Tysons and Lee take it there next.