Mike Tyson's Broadway show, helmed by Spike Lee, opens Tuesday night at the Longacre Theatre. It will be the first of 12 performances for the man formerly known as The Baddest Man on the Planet, a feat that is something of a miracle, some would say, considering it looked like he'd be following in the footsteps of flameout victim Sonny Liston not that long ago.
Here is how the show is described on a website offering tickets. Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth is a rare, personal look inside the life and mind of one of the most complicated men ever to wear the heavyweight crown. Directed by Academy Award nominee Spike Lee, this riveting one-man show goes beyond the headlines, behind the scenes and between the lines to deliver a must-see theatrical knockout.
The 46-year-old Tyson, who grew up in Bed-Stuy and Brownsville, retired from the ring with a 50-6 (44 KOs) record, in 2005. He became the youngest heavyweight champion, at 20 years old, in 1986, when he beat Trevor Berbick. But his slide started not that long after; he hooked up with starlet Robin Givens, and then in 1988, parted ways with managers Bill Cayton and Jim Jacobs and trainer Kevin Rooney. During his ascent, he spent more than a little time with Steve Lott, who assisted Cayton, in fact sleeping on Lott's sofa in midtown Manhattan from 1985-1987. I reached out to Lott, who is these days living in Las Vegas, helping to build a Boxing Hall of Fame, which will feature video from the fight film library passed down from Cayton. I wondered he sees it as something of a miracle that this Kid Dynamite he spent so many hours with, who slid into drug addiction after serving time for rape, is alive, and on Broadway.
"No, I am not surprised he's doing this," said Lott, who saw a version of the stage show a few months back, before Spike Lee became involved.
Lott gave Lee hundreds of stills, he said, to add to the show. He lauds Tyson's wife, Kiki, for helping to steer him clear of negative influences. "The show was very vulgar, and Mike held the audience in the palm of his hand for two hours." He predicts the show will sell out every performance and could be "explosive," the start of a long run. "No, it's not a miracle, he has someone in Kiki who has a marvelous idea of what he can be. She got rid of all the bums around Mike."
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