As a professional boxer, Mike Tyson had a most interesting career. However, his life after boxing has been downright fascinating.
Despite an impressive boxing record of 50-6 and a stint as the undisputed heavyweight champion, Tyson’s career was marred by controversy—most notably the fact that he bit a chunk off of Evander Holyfield’s ear during their second match, in 1997.
Outside of the ring, his life has been filled with problems, including the death of his 4-year-old daughter, Exodus, in 2009; financial challenges; mental illness; and a three-year prison stint after a rape conviction in 1992.
He’s currently touring with his one-man show, Undisputed Truth, which is coming Morongo Casino Resort Spa on Friday, Oct. 27.
During a recent phone interview, Tyson explained what goes on in his show.
“It will cover a bunch of parts of my life that people don’t really know about,” Tyson said. “This is all during my retirement, after I finished fighting—things in my life that happened. It’s almost like the first (version of his one-man) show, but it’s a lot different.”
In May, Tyson released a book, Iron Ambition, which touched on his relationship with his legendary trainer and surrogate father, Cus D’Amato, who passed away in 1985. I asked him if D’Amato ever gave him advice that he wishes he’d followed better. Surprisingly, he said no.
“I followed most of his advice, but he died early on in my career,” Tyson said. “Any of the advice he gave me, it stuck with me. Everything turned out OK. Even the good, the bad and the ugly—it still turned out OK.”
Tyson said he doesn’t think much about his boxing career, even though he was the youngest fighter to ever win the world heavyweight championship, and was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame.
“I never actually look back on my career and think about it from that perspective,” he said. “I’m doing so many other things, but I don’t think my boxing career was too bad.”
As far as those other things go: Mike Tyson has been doing a fair amount of film and TV work. He’s appeared in various movies, most notably the first two The Hangover films. He also has an animated television show on Adult Swim, Mike Tyson Mysteries. In the vein of Scooby-Doo, it features Tyson, an angry pigeon, the Marquess of Queensberry and Tyson’s (not real) 18-year-old adopted daughter, Yung Hee Tyson, solving mysteries. As bonkers as that sounds, the show was recently renewed for a fourth season.
“Warner Bros. came up with the idea for Mike Tyson Mysteries,” Tyson explained. “They came to my house and pitched the idea, and that’s how it happened. But it’s really awesome. I’m doing the one man show; I have Mike Tyson Mysteries; and the sky is the limit. Whatever I can do, I’m ready to do it. In some ways, I feel like I’m going through a resurgence. Kids know me who shouldn’t know me. It’s funny, because kids remember me from The Hangover.”
If you were a kid during the ’80s, you probably remember Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.
“Now I think that Nintendo was one of the biggest inventions that ever happened,” Tyson mused. “But I didn’t play video games back then, so it didn’t mean too much to me.”
Tyson will probably always be most famous for the ear bite. Not that it in any way excuses the bite, but Holyfield spent much of both matches head-butting Tyson. I asked Tyson if he felt referee Mills Lane should have done more to prevent that.
“It’s funny that you say that, because I haven’t really thought about it, and maybe I should look back on that,” he said. “Maybe he could have stopped some of the head-butts, but that’s back in the past. But those things happen, and you can’t cry over spilled milk.”
I had to ask: Why does a boxer who made $300 million during his boxing career have a tattoo of Chairman Mao on his arm?
“One day when I was in prison, I was reading his book,” Tyson said. “He had an interesting life. I saw his picture in there, and I took notice of it, so I put him on my arm.”
Mike Tyson’s Undisputed Truth takes place at at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 27, at Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. Tickets are $55. For tickets or more information, call 800-252-4499, or visit www.morongocasinoresort.com.