Mike Tyson wants you to know he’s a vegan now, with a flock of trained pigeons and three beautiful kids. Or maybe it’s his third wife, Kiki, who wants you to know all that: she’s the one credited with writing this two-hour, one-man reminiscence, which ran on Broadway for ten days last summer. In any event, the 46-year-old former heavyweight champ tells us at the top of the show that he’s been “domesticated.”
And all that horrible stuff—the crimes and shit—for which for which he’s notorious? Well, he’s happy to own up to whatever earns him sympathy (30 arrests by the time he was 12 years old) or laughs (destroying flamboyant boxer Mitch “Blood” Green in a Brooklyn street brawl). But when it comes to his brief, reportedly violent marriage to Robin Givens or the rape for which he served three years in prison, he’s nothing but a victim. The only offense for which he apologizes—biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear—just happens to be the only one to have been caught on tape. And even that has its mitigating circumstance: Tyson claims he “snapped” because Holyfield head-butted him.
The show is a festival of self-justification. A carnival, really, inasmuch as Tyson is no actor. And it doesn’t work in the end. The violence that helped make Kid Dynamite one of the most devastating fighters of all time comes through in spite of everything, as does an apparently deep-seated misogyny. There’s a drama at the core of The Undisputed Truth, all right, but it’s not the one the Tysons hoped we’d see.
The show runs only through tonight at Broadway in Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph.