TIME Gary Andrew Poole went to Las Vegas strip to review Mike Tyson’s new one-man show “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth-Live on Stage.” The show is the brainchild of Tyson and his wife Kiki. In it he explains his troubled childhood and controversial adulthood through a series of stories that made the critic cringe at moments.
“I’m really an animal, guys, I’m just dressed up nice.” In a white cocktail jacke and black slacks, Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight boxing champion, recounts punching people in the face outside of nightclubs and having sex with prostitutes. It is all part of one of the more bizarre one-man shows ever staged on the Las Vegas strip, a production that also has the retired boxer gyrating and singing along to jazz tunes. But then for one moment, the narrative of the show takes on the promise of the American dream.
That’s when Tyson talks of his trainer and surrogate father, Cus D’Amato and how he motivated a young hoodlum out of a rough section of Brooklyn (“the Devil’s bedroom” Tyson describes it). An insecure boy anxious about the alcoholic mother he loved, Tyson recalls how D’Amato promised that if the neophyte boxer followed everything he preached, he’d grow rich beyond his imaginings, become a world champion and a legend in the sport. “Your neighbors will treat your mother with respect.” Tyson recalls how D’Amato had the ability to “massage my mind,” encouraging the virtually uneducated young man to read The Art of War, The Count of Monte Cristo and Zen in the Art of Archery. Tyson said that D’Amato was able to turn his inner cowardice into something both beautiful and terrifying in the boxing ring.
The theme of self-doubt arises several times in the 75 minutes of Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth. But its questions about manhood, race and fear are never satisfyingly answered and the show detours instead into tangential anecdotes, dead ends and moments when the audience simply cringes in embarrassment. The show runs through April 18 at the MGM Grand and the boxer has said that he would like to bring the show to Broadway and London’s West End. Best not in its current form.
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