Whatever you’ve heard about there being no second acts in American life, forget about it.
Look no further than boxer Mike Tyson, who managed to become the heavyweight champion of the world despite a wretched childhood. Even a rape conviction, which landed the brawler behind bars for three years, couldn’t finish him off.
Now, Tyson, who’s been out of the fight game since 2005, is back with a one-man show called “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth.” Directed by Spike Lee, the show tracing the tattooed tough guy’s bizarre odyssey is at Foxwoods Resort Casino Jan. 24. (The show debuted in Las Vegas and then traveled to Broadway before airing on HBO last November.)
“The motivation for doing this was seeing Chazz Palminteri do ‘A Bronx Tale’ in Vegas,” Tyson told us the other day. “I was just mesmerized. It was a packed house, but you could hear everyone breathing. I thought, ‘I want to make people feel the way he made me feel.’ I thought, ‘l could do this.’ ”
He’s certainly lived a life worth talking about, at least for 90 minutes. There’s the rocky marriage to Robin Givens, the rocky relationship with promoter Don King, the infamous street fight with boxer Mitch Green, and the deaths of various family members, including, tragically, his 4-year-old daughter Exodus. There are moments of laughter and moments of anguish.
“It used to be difficult to talk about this stuff,” Tyson says, speaking on the phone from New York. “But I just try to be objective with it. I’m like an actor playing Mike Tyson.”
And acting is something he’s interested in doing more of. The 47-year-old former fighter has appeared in a handful of films and TV shows — “The Hangover,” “Scary Movie 5,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Entourage” — but he’s just getting started.
“I think about the people who’ve been on the stage before me — people like Ben Vereen, Liza Minnelli, Debbie Allen, and all those people — and I want to do that,” he says. (He was able to bob and weave in the ring, but Tyson is smart enough not to sing and dance in “Undisputed Truth.”)
Still, he says, there are similarities between being in the ring and being on stage.
“It’s just like boxing, really. Being on the stage, you know what the audience wants and you know where you’re taking them,” Tyson says. “Boom, you hit them with suspense, and then, boom, you hit them with pain, and then, boom, you hit them with laughter.”
Then there’s silence on the phone.
“I’m just doing my best,” he says. “I’m grateful just to be able to do this.”