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MIKE TYSON:UNDISPUTED TRUTH

By Iride Aparicio

MIKE TYSON
Mike Tyson                                    Photo courtesy: SHN

SAN FRANCISCO, CAWhen told by different individuals, the truth has different versions. After a highly successful bout on Broadway, MIKE TYSON will have the opportunity to tell his version of his life to the audience of San Francisco, in person, in a one-man show appropriately named MIKE TYSON: UNDISPUTED TRUTH that will be presented at the SHN Orpheum Theatre. Helmed by the renowned director SPIKE LEE, and Produced by JAMES L. NEDERLANDER, the exclusive show is being presented, for two nights only.

Created by Adam Steck, CEO of SPI Entertainment, MIKE TYSON: UNDISPUTED TRUTH, written by Kiki Tyson and directed by Randy Johnson, is a rare, personal look inside the life and mind of one of the most feared men ever to wear the heavyweight crown. The show goes beyond the headlines, behind the scenes, and between the lines to deliver this must see theatrical knockout. TYSON said about the show: "UNDISPUTED TRUTH is my story-I'm giving my all." He does.

The curtain opens on a semi-dark bare stage. Wearing grey pants, shirt and jacket, with a silk purple handkerchief peeking from his chest pocket, TYSON sits on a stool located on stage front center with both his legs stretched on the floor. For a few seconds, he just sits there in silence, his back bent, his chin leaning on his right  hand, his head down,  illuminated only by a spotlight.

He hear fast music. A movie-size  projection with a sign reading: “The greatest thing you ever learn is to love.” is proyected on the screen.  TYSON stands up, looking fit, and begins talking to the audience in a well-modulated voice.

“Thank you, Thank you,” he says facing the audience. “Welcome to my living room. I want you to get to meet me in my own words, This is my story.”

Now we see the façade of Cumberland, a Brooklyn hospital, projected on the screen with the date June 30, l966 written underneath it.  The next projection shows a white woman holding a baby. Smiling TYSON  explains that the woman shown in the projection  is not his mother, and that he is not the baby, but that the hospital is the hospital where he was born on that date, and that he has no pictures of himself as a baby. He then tells the audience that he was the youngest of three children, Rodney, a boy and Denise, a girl. At birth, he was given the name of  MICHAEL GERARD  TYSON by his mother.

Projected on the screen we see LORNA SMITH TYSON  his mother. JIMMY KIRKPATRICK, his father, had abandoned the family when MIKE was two years old, leaving  her alone. “She drank, and drank” he says.

His childhood, in Brownsville, was rough. At age l0, he lived  around high-crime neighborhoods. “I came from the gutter,” he says, “we all came from homes where there were no Adidas, no Jeans, so we were a  pack of wild drunken kids. I was arrested about one hundred times.”
 
Living in those conditions, made him strong. He needed to learn to defend himself, which he did.  He leaned to fight all those older kids who were mean to him, cut the heads of  the street  pigeons he loved, and made fun of the way the talked. At age 13 he had been arrested so many  times that he was sent to Tryon School for Boys in New York.

It was a blessing in disguise because it  was there where he met BOBBY STEWARD,  a counselor at the center and a former boxer. He saw MIKE’s potential for boxing and introduced him to CUS D’ AMATO, an Italian  Boxing Manager and trainer. When 3 years later  TYSON’s mother died, she left the 16 years old boy in his care. AMATO trained TYSON to fight. “He was my mentor,” he says.

As the story continues, in a series of projections, intercut with spoken memories. We see short films of  his fights. His triumphs, his winning the title of  "The Heavyweights Champion of the World and the youngest boxer to win the title (he was 22 years old). He won so many titles, the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweights titles among them. His fights are too many to mention all we can say is that in 1998 TYSON was rank as "THE GREATEST Heavyweights of ALL TIME."

Now we see projection  of his private life:  The death of Denise, his sister at the age of 25,  the cemetery where she and her mother are buried. Pictures of his marriage to ROBIN GIVENS, and the story continues with the memories that caused him pain: his divorce. His being accused of the  rape, of DESIREE WASHINGTON in l991, (told from his side) his conviction. The death of his little girl and of AMATO, his mentor.

It is a dramatic story, similar to his boxing years: a combination of  many triumphs and many painful defeats. Yet at the end, of the evening, standing on their feet, the audience stood to cheer a  TYSON the man, not the boxer, but TYSON the fighter in life. Because he is a fighter. After losing the $400,000.000 he earned in his fights, in lawyers' fees during his divorce settlement, luxuries, vices, and false accounts from people who cheated him, of his money he managed to KO every one of his demons in the only fight that counts: LIFE. And on the night of February 28 TYSON summon the courage to stand alone on a bare stage facing a theatre full of strangers and talk candidly about his whole life: his  fall and his redemption.

MIKE TYSON is a winner again. He has the only trophies that can made a man happy. He got his self esteem back, His self respect, a new mentor in the rules of the Muslim religion,  and plenty of love from his new wife and children. On that night, MIKE TYSON became a champion again, but he did not receive a trophy. He received something else: the admiration of his audience.