Sport on TV: Talk of the devil - Mike Tyson seeks redemption in power of speech

 

Mike Tyson still packs a punch. He likes to chat these days, and has gone on a speaking tour so he will be chewing people's ears off all over the world. It's like a confession, and the words keep tumbling out as if he is a bad man with an awful lot to own up to. That makes sense – or at least most of it does – because Tyson is seeking redemption.

The stage shows are an unlikely scenario, not just because his "Iron Mike" persona always used to let his fists do the talking but also because he has a pronounced lisp. Being: Mike Tyson (Fox, Thursday), appropriately produced by Asylum Entertainment, is a six-part series showing us how he gets on with "The Undisputed Truth" tour but it's unlikely that anyone will draw attention to the speech impediment. Any hecklers will no doubt be right at the back of the auditorium, near the emergency exit.

There is a bit of a boxer's slur too, and a thick Brooklyn accent, and yet for all that – and the incessant bleeping for the more obscene phraseology – he is a remarkably eloquent talker. The delivery may be rather slow and deliberate but it's compelling stuff.

He is as enthusiastic about his new vocal vocation as he was about getting into the ring: "I'm like a racehorse, I can't wait to get on stage." That's a pantomime horse actually, Mike, but we know what you mean. He wasn't allowed into the UK because of his rape conviction but if we ever do let him in he will have to do a panto season in Purley or somewhere. "He's behind you"… and all the adults start screaming.

His first gig is in Indiana, less than 20 miles from the Plainfield Correctional Facility where he served three years for the rape. It's not likely to be an easy crowd. Even he admits: "Can't I have a couple of other cities first, to warm up a bit?" However, he does flourish in adversity: "If I'm not in conflict with an individual, I have to be in conflict with myself," he says.

In fact he is trying to come to terms with his past, and the tour is part of that process. "Iron Mike is a god," he says. "I look at him different than I look at myself. Now I'm just Mike." And that's why he has picked up the mike.

He knows the road to redemption will be long and hard: he pays a visit to the prison and is reunited with Philip Slavens, one of the screws who used to "babysit" him. And he is brutally honest where once he was just brutal. When asked about his new persona, he says: "I don't know if it's reinvented. It's just part of growing up."

This week he meets Evander Holyfield, the man whose ear he really did take a bite out of – and who has been allowed into this country to take part in the panto that is Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5).

Holyfield did reinvent himself as a born-again Christian but it hasn't done him much good. While handcuffed to an Apprentice runner-up in bed – yes really; in fact CBB gives panto a bad name, even Christopher Biggins turned them down – the former heavyweight said people are not born gay.

He was prompted by the suggestion that more professional sportsmen should admit they are gay and his comments were poorly timed two days before footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger came out. Holyfield was soon coming out of the Big Brother house after admitting to having punched a pregnant horse. Some people really should just stop talking. From the convicted to the evicted.

* Sylvester Stallone and Robert de Niro were on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, Friday) to promote their new film Grudge Match, about two old boxers who come out of retirement for one last fight. The Hollywood legends have a rivalry going back to when Rocky pipped Taxi Driver to an Oscar in 1976. Rocky Balboa against Raging Bull's Jake La Motta might be an interesting contest but Rocky against Travis Bickle? Rocky would surely need Rambo in his corner for that one.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

Guru Careers: Print Project Manager

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Print Project Manager is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living