Suddenly, Mike Tyson is popular again.
Mike Tyson is opening his one-man Vegas act, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth — Live on Stage, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 13. It’s the same arena where he had an intimate encounter with Evander Holyfield’s ear. He’s booked for six nights.
The Las Vegas Sun reports, “Tickets in the 740-seat theater are $91. A VIP package offering front-row seats, a meet-and-greet, a photo with Tyson, and some sort of commemorative item (a ticket or a program) is offered at $499.... The multimedia show will have Tyson working off of a loose script covering pivotal moments of his life and career.”
What Tyson is, is durable. He was the youngest heavyweight champ in history, won his first 19 fights by knockout, 12 of them in the first round. He collects the WBC, WBA, and IBF heavyweight titles, then comes the great crash of 1990, knocked out in the tenth round by a 42-to-1 underdog, James Douglas.
Tried and convicted of rape. Three years in an Indiana prison, gets out in ’95, wins back the WBC and WBA heavyweight titles. The WBC declares its title vacant after he refuses a mandatory fight with Lennox Lewis. Loses his WBA title to Evander Holyfield in 1996, followed by a life-changing fight, Holyfield II, in 1997. Tyson is disqualified for biting Holyfield’s ear, fined $3,000,000, and loses his Nevada boxing license for one year.
In February, 1999, Tyson is sentenced to two concurrent two-year sentences for assaulting two men after a traffic accident. Served three and a half months in a Rockville, Maryland, jail.
Released, first fight is against Orlin Norris. Tyson hits him after the bell and the fight is declared a no contest. Tyson has three fights in 2000. One was a KO victory and two were no contest (one no contest for continuing to pummel his opponent after the referee stopped the bout, the other for testing positive for marijuana).
His last professional fight, against Kevin McBride, wasn’t that long ago, 2005. Refused to answer the bell in the seventh round. December, 2006, Tyson is arrested for and later pleads guilty to possession of narcotics and driving under the influence of drugs. Receives a fine, three years probation, and 360 hours of community service.
Tyson earned nearly $400 million during his fighting career. He declared bankruptcy in 2003 with debts totaling $27 million. His third wife, Lakiha “Kiki” Spicer, says he had $7000 in his bank account in 2007. She met him when she was 18. They dated for a while, reunited in 2007, but couldn’t live together because they were both on probation, Tyson for drugs/DUI, Kiki for a federal embezzlement conviction. They married in June, 2009, at the La Bella Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas.
His latest comeback may have started with the 2008 documentary Tyson. The film won awards at the Cannes Film Festival and National Society of Film Critics. Archival footage and quick cuts to Tyson talking about his life. Then came The Hangover in 2009, and suddenly Tyson is popular again.
Which brings us to now. He’s signed to do an 80-minute one-man show at the MGM Grand. Tyson’s gig was announced on February 21, and he began rehearsing March 5. Eighty minutes is a long time to stand in front of a Vegas audience. Standup comedians rehearse their acts for months.
The New York Times Magazine did a piece on Iron Mike last year. He’s living in suburban Las Vegas with wife and kids. The story said he’d lost 150 pounds, no longer eats meat, goes to clubs, or blah, blah, blah. That story has been told many times.
Except for this part. After his arrest for drugs/DUI, Tyson checked himself into rehab at the Wonderland Center in Hollywood Hills. One thinks, so what, that’s what they all do. Sign in, let things cool down, sign out, and carry on. Tyson stayed in Wonderland for over a year.
So, he wants to change. That’s genuine. Whether anybody can change at the age of 45, I don’t know, but I do know that’s not the way to bet.
Still, one hopes. He does have something to work with, he’s always had a sweet, innocent side. I’ll finish there. Tyson is talking to Las Vegas Sun columnist John Katsilometes.
“They thought about Joe Louis, that it was deplorable for him to be a host at a casino, Caesars Palace. Let me tell you something, right now: the last five years of heavyweight champions, ask any of them if they would be a host at Caesars Palace. They would love it.... Me, I want to be a host. Lemme be a host for a Strip hotel.”