INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Mike Tyson the entertainer is coming back to the city that put him in prison.
The boxer once dubbed as the “Baddest Man on the Planet” is settling into his new role as the star of a one-man, 36-city road show called “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth.”
Now 46, Tyson hopes to show city residents Wednesday night he’s a very different person than the one they remember — the brash young heavyweight champion who was convicted of raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant and then spent three life-changing years behind bars in the 1990s. Helicopters were on hand for his release from prison in 1995, and he hasn’t been back since.
“At the time, I was living a pretty hectic life and pretty wild and I don’t know what would have happened if I had three more years of that life,” Tyson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Las Vegas. “So maybe that was, everything happens for a reason. You know, when I left prison, I did a lot better than when I came. So everything happens for a reason, everything’s a developmental stage in life, and I’m just going on this journey in life to find out what’s next.”
Tyson’s show details his rise from the streets of Brooklyn to champion boxer, the subsequent fall and all those glorious and inglorious moments that defined his life — drug use, biting of Evander Holyfield’s ear, relationships with ex-wife Robin Givens, new wife, Kiki, boxing promoter Don King, the late Cus D’Amato, his former trainer, and, of course, his version of what happened in Indianapolis.
Some reviewers have interpreted Tyson’s words to be apologetic, though Tyson made it clear in the interview this is no apology tour. He said he is not sure what kind of crowd reaction he will get, though the original two-day Indy program has been cut to a one-night only performance.
“It’s not like no kryptonite. There’s nothing about that stuff that evokes any bad memories to me,” he said. “I’m a professional, I’m going to go there, I’m going to entertain the crowd. I’m not going to be there and say, ‘Oh, my God.’ No, I’m a grown man. That’s 21 years ago. You think I’m scared to come to Indianapolis because of something that happened 21 years ago? I’m a totally different person now.”
Local talk radio host Greg Garrison, the man who successfully prosecuted Tyson, declined to comment on the boxer’s return.
The show has already appeared in Las Vegas and on Broadway, and after spending three nights in Indianapolis this week, he heads to Chicago. He says he spends two hours a day, seven days a week rehearsing the script written by his wife, and the show is directed by Spike Lee. The tour is scheduled to take him to places such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, and Washington, and more could be on the way if things go well. Tyson has already had roles in “The Hangover” series and last week made a cameo appearance on “Law and Order: SVU.”
When he’s not rehearsing, Tyson said he’s working with his Mike Tyson Cares, an organization that helps underprivileged and homeless children receive medical treatment, find shelter, help with school expenses and assist with job placement.
That’s the new Tyson.
But his penchant for the drama, not all of his own doing, has not changed.
In December, Tyson told a television show he was “high on cocaine” during filming on the original “Hangover.” In November, a Polish court ordered Tyson to pay $48,000 to the organizer of a boxing gala after Tyson didn’t show up.
In October, he was banned from traveling to New Zealand because of his rape conviction. New Zealand immigration authorities initially granted him a visa so he could give talks about overcoming adversity in his life before a charity withdrew its support and officials reversed their decision. Tyson’s comment that he was going to New Zealand and there was nothing anybody could do about it, didn’t help, either.
“I brought that on myself because I was being arrogant at the time,” he said when asked about the dust-up with New Zealand authorities. “I really had the OK to go there, but I made a statement about the prime minister and he got mad at me, and I should have been more humble about the whole situation. Other than that, all of the people that wanted to come from New Zealand they came to Australia, and I was very grateful for that.”
If Tyson sounds more contrite, more polite, he says it’s because he has a new perspective on what’s happened in the past. Tyson has no immediate plans to follow George Foreman back into the ring as he nears 50, but he wants to continue acting, whether it’s on stage, the small screen or the big screen.
He said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to become a star.
And strangely enough, the next chapter begins in Indianapolis, where he hopes to show everyone he has learned to enjoy his life rather than living it solely in the fast lane.
“I’m just happy to be existing in life, enjoying life the way I’m enjoying it now,” he said. “That’s awesome that people anticipated me not being here and I’m still here. So I’m sure you’re all happy that I chose to go another route and I’m sure I am.”
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.