By Michael Marley
Iron Mike Tyson never got full credit for his hand and foot speed in his younger days in the ring.
Despite his blazing punches and nimble feet, Tyson was somewhat miscast as a mechanical KO puncher when he was so much more. When he was making formidable foes such as Trevor Berbick wobble like the town drunk, most spoke only of Tyson's fearsome power and not his agility.
Besides, world heavyweight champion predecessor Muhammad Ali was the icon who could "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." If Ali hit like a bee, I guess that made Tyson a whole nest of enraged hornets.
I just spoke to old pal Michael Gerard Tyson, of the Amboy Street, Brownsville, Brooklyn, only hours before his official Broadway stage performance Tuesday night at the Longacre Theatre.
(I told Tyson I wished him, in the Broadway good luck tradtion, "to break a leg" and he laughed.)
But Tyson, who turned age 46 on June 30, admitted that "butterflies" are roaming through his digestive system.
I asked if his nerves reminded him of anticipating the exhange of punches with someone like English heavy hitter Frank Bruno.
"I am nervous," Tyson said. "It is similar to the day of a fight, being in the dressing room. But we've got three acts and a bell opens each one, so it's something familiar to me, hearing that bell and getting busy."
Although Tyson's words and not punches come in dramatic bunches, Tyson's delightful wife, Kiki, said she sees her husband's nerved up a bit. As a teenager in Philadelphia, she first got to know Mike right before he pummeled Buster Mathis Jr. in that city.
"I think we got out most of our jitters Monday night," Kiki said. "We did a full show, a "friends and family" production and it was great. One writer who came and saw it said it gave him goosebumps."
"We're ready for tonight, we are," Tyson said. "Last night was just a smash, like a knockout. I'm treating New York like any place else. I am baring my soul up there on that stage. I don't care or worry about hecklers...I can talk about the rape (conviction in Indiana), about the (Evander Holyfield ear) bite...I can and will talk about anything."
I asked Tyson what working with fellow Brooklyn guy Lee was like for him.
"There's a lot of stress involved," Tyson said, "so working with Spike makes it more fun. I'm just going out there and I'm going to have fun doing it. Nothing is taboo and whatever happens happens."
I once coined a "No robes, no socks, no mercy" catchphrase for Tyson when I was the p.r. chieftain at Don King Productions. If you did not know, Tyson entered the ring sans robe and hosiery.
It sounds like "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" will be performed in a similar, striking way.
Tags: Mike Tyson