There will be a Mike Tyson documentary on HBO. It will be called Undisputed Truth It will be comprised primarily of his one man show interspersed with footage of his earlier life. It will be directed by Spike Lee. It will definitely be interesting. It might even be really good. A teaser for the upcoming Home Box Office release is more engrossing than I expected. In the 90 seconds of footage, it is clear that Tyson has a surprising stage presence and a comfortable charisma that belies the image of him as an ear-chomping maniac. The teaser is mostly informational, “by the time I was 12 years old I’d been arrested over 38 times.” Things like that, but there is emotion there and it is powerful.
During the video, Tyson refers to himself as “domesticated.” When I first heard that adjective it felt strange to me, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. During most of his life Tyson struggled with issues of poverty and race. It made him a sensitive man, but that sensitivity quickly turned to anger. That anger allowed him to become one of the greatest boxers to ever live, but as soon as that career began to fade it turned him into a dangerous man. He was often described as an animal without a leash. Racist connotations of that imagery inside he did seem intent on tearing apart any and all expectations, just like an abused dog.
Tyson’s legacy is best summed up by Grantland.com’s Bill Simmons. Years ago Simmons coined the term “The Mike Tyson Zone.” The Tyson Zone represents a space a figure occupies where nothing they do is a surprise. Anything and everything is on the table because that figure has zigged when we’ve expected a zag on countless occasions. The creation of a touching, emotional one-man show may just be something that transcends the Tyson Zone. I’m surprised, but I’m also very excited. Maybe here we’ll see more than just the story of Tyson’s coming to terms with himself (though that would be more than enough for me). I think it’s more than possible we’ll see something that tells us about how we can get through a life that doesn’t always go our way. Maybe we can avoid ear biting, child eating, and testicle stomping all together on the way, and it will be all thanks to Mike Tyson.