Mike Tyson, on Broadway

June, 18, 2012

Mike Tyson, the man who once bit off a portion of his foe's ear during a fight, is doing a one-man show on Broadway, to be directed by Spike Lee.

Richard Nixon must be sitting straight up in his grave.

What does it say about this age that a man can go from walking tabloid headline to convicted sex offender to the toast of Broadway in a matter of a couple decades? Have we really made such strides in the area of forgiveness? (Nixon would certainly marvel at this development and wonder why he wasn't born later -- or hadn't lived longer -- so that he could've enjoyed a triumphant comeback tour).

Or have we reached a level of permissiveness that too easily allows rogues an indefinite period of atonement, a self-prescribed humility quarantine to reinvent themselves and fairly seamlessly enter into a lucrative redemption tour?

Not to be a hater -- I have rooted for Tyson since he burst on the scene as a wrecking ball of fury who also had a contemplative and humble side, which he trotted out right after he finished applying the finishing touches to another cerebrum-rattling KO -- but I do sometimes wonder what Desiree Washington, the woman Tyson was convicted of raping, thinks about this transformation.

Is it totally legit? Is a backslide inevitable? Has he served enough penance? Should he have to serve any at all?

I admit, I am looking forward to taking in a performance of "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" live on Broadway (July 31-Aug. 5) at the Longacre Theatre in NYC, and seeing if the most interesting athlete of his era will help me process and clarify my complicated and ever-shifting take on his fascinating life.
Michael Woods, a member of the board of the Boxing Writers Association of America, has been covering boxing since 1991. He writes about boxing for ESPN The Magazine and is the news editor for TheSweetScience.com.



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