Ten years ago, if you said Mike Tyson would be appearing on morning talk shows, be a New York Times best-selling author and the star of a hit one-man Broadway show, people would say you were delusional.
But that is exactly what Iron Mike Tyson is doing.
The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world has become much more than a retired boxer and people seem to have not forgotten, but maybe have forgiven him, after he served three years in prison for raping Desiree Washington.
Now, Tyson admits he has matured, is a better man and talks about his interesting life during “Undisputed Truth,” a one-man show that debuted in Las Vegas and was brought to Broadway in August 2012 after Tyson teamed with director Spike Lee. The show is now touring internationally and makes its stop 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at Caesars Atlantic City.
“I don’t really talk about fighting all that much,” Tyson says. “I talk about my life.”
Tyson’s life is also the main topic of his memoir, also named “Undisputed Truth” (Blue Rider), is on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction Best Sellers list, as he talks about his impoverished boyhood, his career, addiction and recovery.
Although Atlantic City isn’t a major focus of his show, Caesars’ audience members will see images of Tyson in Atlantic City — jogging on the Boardwalk, feeding pigeons, working out in a gym wearing a Trump T-shirt — on a large screen during the show. Tyson also says he’s bound to improvise about his time in A.C, as well.
Tyson, whose career was certainly not hurt by his amusing cameos in the blockbuster “The Hangover” and its first sequel, hopes to parlay his theatrical career to more films. He will appear in “Algeria Forever,” an Algerian martial arts film set for release in 2014; “The Invicible Flying Pig,” a Chinese Children’s film sponsored by CCTV, China’s only government-sponsored media outlet; and “Vernon God Little,” directed by acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog (“The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call — New Orleans.”
And he also started his own boxing promotions company named Iron Mike Productions.
The quiet, now-humble Tyson took the time to talk to At The Shore about what audiences can expect at Caesars … and much more.
Q: Mike, Atlantic City has been a great place for you. You fought here. You made plenty of appearances here. Are you looking forward to presenting you show here?
A: I think it’s going to be really fun. I had a ball in Atlantic City, a wonderful time. I have tons of memories. I remember having a ball at (Atlantic City) Country Club, hanging out at Ocean One picking up girls, being crazy. I was a young kid having fun there. I remember going to the Gucci store at Caesars and buying lots of stuff there.
Q: For your boxing career, people feared you. Now, you’re everywhere from “Live with Kelly and Michael” to “The Howard Stern Show” and people see a different side of you. Is it gratifying that people see you have depth?
A: I am just happy not doing drugs and drinking and that I am able to be the person and man I really want it to be. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for having changed and being a better person and the man I always knew I could be without all of those life distractions.
Q: You have been doing this show for a more than a year now. Does it change and evolve?
A: I try to keep to script, but once I get on stage and get that energy from the crowd, I ad-lib stuff that’s not in the script. My wife is always telling me to be careful so I don’t offend people, but it’s fun to just talk to the people.
Q: The show has taken you to Broadway, Dubai and you are going to tour internationally with it. Did you ever expect that?
A: I did in the sense that if I did an appearance and would answer questions from a crowd, but not in this spectrum where I can tell my story in an artistic way. My first thought was when I saw Chazz Palminteri’s “A Bronx Tale” was that if I could my show anywhere near the level he did, I would be successful. Somehow it all worked out.
Q: Has the response been strong from “Undisputed Truth” airing on HBO?
A: I figured people wouldn’t want to see it anymore after it was on HBO, and I wanted to do a world tour and I thought people would be like, “I saw it already on HBO.” But people still want to see it and I think that’s because the show feels different live and every crowd makes the show different.
Q: Your book is a best-seller. Was it tough to write?
A: It was kind of hard … certain things I didn’t want to talk about. But my wife said to give it everything. So the stories are honest and truthful. I had to talk about things I don’t like to talk about. That’s why I did drugs. I didn’t want to think about that yucky stuff. I wanted to forget it. But it turned out to be a brilliant thing to do. It’s a best-seller internationally.
Q: A lot of people care about you apparently.
A: I don’t know if they care, but they may find me interesting.
Q: You have been out of control. What grounds you now? Your wife?
A: No one can make me do what I don’t want to do. There was a time in my life where I just wanted to live and be a jerk, so I turned that around to put 100 percent into being positive in life and see how that goes and where it takes me. And so far it’s been pretty good. There’s ups and downs but it beats the alternative of being high and out of control all of the time and not have control of my life. I was gambling with my life. I got bored when I was at the height of my career. Now I have a very stable life.
Q: You have only been retired from boxing for eight years. Does it seem like a lifetime ago?
A: It’s like a blur that never happened.
Q: What’s the greatest thing fame has brought you?
A: It gave me a platform to do whatever I want, whether it was to make a fool out of myself or make sense of myself or whatever I wanted to do. The best thing is to enjoy it and not beat myself up.
Q: What’s the worst thing?
A: Meeting very disgusting people. I had really bad people in my life. Now I have a really small circle and it’s the people I want around me right now and I am not interested in having anyone else in it.
Q: You’re doing “Vernon God Little” with acclaimed director Werner Herzog. How did that go?
A: It’s a small role in a movie based on a book. I play a convict.
It’s small but it with Werner Herzog, and I am a big fan of his so I would be a garbage man picking up garbage on the set if I could do it with him.
Q:What’s next for you?
A: I would like to do more acting. And I want to do more work on the Mike Tyson story movie and get someone to finance that. I might do another book that concentrates more on my life with (late boxing manager and trainer) Cus D’Amato, who was a big influence on my life.
Mike Tyson talks boxing
Mike Tyson recently founded Iron Mike Productions, a boxing promotions company that plans to manage fighters and present cards around the country.
Tyson says he knew the business would be hard, but he’s optimistic.
“The first card was in August and then Minnesota and now I have one in Chicago on Feb. 7,” he says. “It took on a life of its own. It’s kind of slow but taking off, too. I want to persevere. It’s difficult to put together fights because everyone has certain fighters and it’s like slave plantations and everyone has slaves fighting for themselves and no one else. It’s difficult to break through. It’s a monopoly. They have their teams and they don’t want anyone else involved.
Tyson is particularly fond of Erickson Lubin, a 140-pounder he managed who was a sensational amateur and a Junior Olympian.
“He has two knockouts with me already,” Tyson says.
The former champ says he is al ittle surprised boxing can’t find the next great heavyweight.
“Heavyweights are all about excitement, and they are just not giving it their all,” Tyson says. “They are not trying to hurt the other guy. I saw when Deontay Wilder knocked out (Nikolai Firtha). (Wilder) seems to have some potential, but let’s see.”