Boxing

‘Being: Mike Tyson’ provides keen insight into former champion’s battle for redemption and normalcy

Kevin Iole
Boxing

View gallery

.

Mike Tyson speaks to reporters on Aug. 10 at the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Las Vegas (G …



Few men in history have shared as much of their lives as openly and as freely as former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.

It's been an incredible life, from the top to the bottom to the top to somewhere in between, filled with enough twists and turns to fill a cheap dime store novel.

He's been probed, poked and prodded for more than 25 years, yet his new series, "Being: Mike Tyson," provides some unique insight into the man as he tries to build a life post-boxing.

The six-part documentary debuts Sunday on Fox at either 3:30 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

[Related: HBO film looks at Muhammad Ali's most important fight]

Tyson grew up a street thug in the New York borough of Brooklyn, and may have stayed there had it not been for incredible punching power. He went on to become not only the youngest heavyweight champion in history, but one of the most recognizable figures on Earth.

View gallery

.

Mike Tyson (R) embraces former rival Evander Holyfield (AP)

He spent time in prison for the rape of a beauty pageant contestant, then returned from incarceration to amass even more power and wealth. He'd blow it all and had to declare bankruptcy. He suffered the loss of a young daughter on an accident on a treadmill, and became an admitted addict to drugs and alcohol.

The first episode sets the stage for those to come, and takes viewers behind the build-up to his first appearance in his one-man stage show.

During his fighting career, which landed him in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Tyson speaks of "Iron Mike," as more of a character than a person and as someone detached from himself.

As the show opens, Tyson says, "Iron Mike Tyson is a God. I look at him different than I look at myself."

Iron Mike was aggressive, dominant, powerful and uninhibited. Mike is confused, wondering how and where he fits in, struggling for acceptance.

He wants to be accepted as Mike, but is constantly referred to and approached as "Iron Mike."

"People have to realize that Iron Mike is just really dead," Tyson says. "I'm just doing something else now. That's just what it is."

He talks candidly of the struggles he faced in his life, much as he does in his popular one-man show.

"I was dark and troubled then," he said. "I'm dark and troubled now, but not like back then. I'm cool."

It's compelling as he talks about his struggles to adapt to his new life, to adjust to a world in which he can't get everything he wants whenever he wants.

In the second episode, he spends much of it with Evander Holyfield, his friend and long-time rival. The two are linked in boxing history because of their two fights, particularly their second, when Tyson twice bit Holyfield's ears.

The best part of that show is not the scene where Holyfield explains to a zoned-out looking Tyson his perspective of the 'Bite Fight.' Rather, the show does a brilliant job of capturing who Tyson is in 2013 as it follows him to a gym to watch Holyfield's son, Evan, box in a tournament.

Tyson goes through a roller coaster of emotions as he watches the bout. He's up when young Holyfield succeeds and is down when the tide turns in the fight. But Tyson easily bonds with the children and seems more comfortable with them than he does with any adults.

There is a lot of new ground covered, though those who've heard the Tyson redemption story already might get tired of it quickly.

But the series is a very good look at the man Tyson has become and his struggle to beat his inner demons.

View Comments