Mike Tyson has been drinking. At a party. With a young lady.
Undoubtedly another implosion by Kid Dynamite, whose bald, tattooed head is connected by an infamously short fuse to his fists.
But wait. Discard that outdated assumption.
Tyson has been sipping tea with his 4-year-old daughter Milan. Those jackhammer hands, once a terror to opponents and a menace to society, hold the cup and saucer with dainty tenderness, right pinky extended.
“She says, ‘You want to play with me, Daddy?’ ” Tyson said. “And then she serves me tea and fake food from her Betty Crocker kitchen. She’s adorable.”
Tyson crushes his r’s with his Brooklyn accent. Diction was never a strength of the thug from the mean streets who expressed himself most eruditely in the boxing ring.
But Tyson can role-play with the best. He’s had so many parts: Juvenile delinquent; youngest universal heavyweight champ in history; cocaine addict; convicted rapist; ear-biting savage; $400 million-fortune-wasting has-been and misunderstood human being.
A bad actor, he was. At age 46, he has become quite a good one, even if he is portraying himself in his one-man show, Undisputed Truth, which makes its Miami stop on a nationwide tour at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Adrienne Arsht Center.
The show is all Tyson, alone on stage for 100minutes, drawing laughs and tears from the audience as he talks about his 30 arrests by age 13, his prostitute mother, his absent father, the sister who raised him, trainer Cus D’Amato, first wife Robin Givens, huckster Don King, accuser Desiree Washington, Evander Holyfield, Buster Douglas, the accidental death of his daughter Exodus, drug and alcohol highs, prison lows, and his continuing fight for inner peace.
As he shadow boxes through the monologue, trying to connect, he’s more vulnerable than he was bare-chested inside the ropes.
“The big difference is I don’t go to the hospital after a performance,” Tyson said from his home in a Las Vegas suburb.
Tyson co-wrote the script with wife Kiki, and director Spike Lee brought it to Broadway last summer. Tyson originally wanted to call it “Boxing, Bitches and Lawsuits.”
“I’m not out there to win sympathy,” Tyson said. “I’m telling stories, and people can interpret them the way they want. I’m trying to entertain. I want to evoke powerful emotions. If I hear someone say, ‘Man, he was so gripping and it went by so fast!’ I feel gratified.”
The show evolves as he hones his new craft, Tyson said. Tommy Hearns was in the Detroit audience last week. Maybe Miami boxing people will attend Tuesday.
But Tyson keeps his distance from the sport that made him and broke him. He watches occasional fights in Las Vegas but doesn’t do the decadent parties that once got him a case of gonorrhea. Doesn’t follow the heavyweight division sorely lacking a star like he was a quarter century ago.
He’s a family man now. He and Kiki have two children, Milan and Morocco, 2. He is the father of seven altogether. His mother-in-law lives down the block. He’s a vegan and has dropped his weight from 360 pounds to 220. He likes kung-fu movies, classic cartoons and documentaries. He runs a charitable foundation, Mike Tyson Cares. Still a night owl, he works out in the exercise room or reads until the wee hours. Among the books on his nightstand: The New History of the World, King Harald’s Saga, The Gangs of New York, Gangsters and Gold Diggers and biographies of Jack Dempsey, Jersey Joe Walcott and Joe Gans.