“Undisputed Truth” Hits HBO

By Sharon Cobb on November 17, 2013
“Undisputed Truth” Hits HBO
I've always been a fan of the boxer. “Undisputed Truth” has made me a fan of the man.

In the HBO special, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” Tyson puts on a one-man show that is maddening, marvelous, painful, real, and ultimately redemptive….

The Undisputed Heavyweight of bad-ass inside the ring and out has lightened up.

Mike Tyson is a happy man, today. Yes, I am talking about the man who had 38 convictions, a father who ran out on him, a mother who was not capable of raising him, a white man named Cus D’Amato who probably saved his life, three children, one daughter who died in a freak accident, filed for bankruptcy, went to jail in 1992 for rape of beauty queen Desiree Washington, was disqualified from a fight with Evander Holyfield for biting off part of Holy’s ear, was knocked out in Japan by a fighter no one had heard of (James “Buster” Douglas), and relapsed on his rehab in August of 2013.

Mike Tyson has found peace and is genuinely happy.

In the HBO special, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” Tyson puts on a one-man show, directed by Spike Lee, that is maddening, marvelous, painful, real, and ultimately redemptive.

Tyson talks about prepping for this show like a seasoned thespian. In reality, his childhood sounds like an Oliver Twist story, not the story of a young man who, at the age of 20 years, 4 months and 22 days, would become the youngest man to hold the lineal heavyweight title before he was old enough to legally drink in some states.

The HBO show opens with Tyson sitting alone on a chair, facing the audience. He starts riffing about his abusive and misspent childhood. Born June 30, 1966, his mother, Lorna Smith, got caught up in the action of the streets, while chasing after his father, who was a pimp. As his Brownsville neighborhood was mixed, Tyson says in a cheeky tone, “Once those white people moved in, there went the neighborhood.”

He was age ten when he started fighting older kids, joking, “I was biting back then!”

As all fight fans know, and Tyson is quick to acknowledge, an elderly Italian trainer by the name of Cus D’Amato entered Mike’s life and altered what would have otherwise been a likely early death. One can’t mention Mike’s success without mentioning Cus. In addition to being his mentor, Cus became Mike’s legal guardian, and made good on his promise to make him the youngest heavyweight champion in history.

When it comes to Desiree Washington, Tyson says, “I did NOT rape her.” That’s all he says, but he even found the positive in serving time for a crime he did not commit. He spoke of how the quiet gave him peace of mind, and he started evaluating his life inside those walls.

And when talking about getting knocked out in the 9th round by Douglas in Tokyo, he went on to say, “James got knocked out in the 8th round, to a 13-second count, but they overlooked that.” Footage was then shown of those 13 seconds, and sure enough, he was right, or in the proverbial vernacular, “He was robbed!”

Perhaps the hardest and most emotional moment of the night was when he spoke of his young daughter who was killed, while her photo, larger than life, was projected on a screen behind him.  This is not a man who is afraid to let you see him cry.

“Undisputed Truth” is a compelling argument that one should be given a second, third and even fourth chance in life. His gratitude is overwhelming, as his humility and humor.

I’ve always been a fan of the boxer. This show, for the first time since I first saw him decades ago, has made me a fan of the man.

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 12:34pm, 11/17/2013

    Sharon Cobb-I am glad that you are contributing to Boxing.com….I thought for a while that Jill Diamond Chastain was on board….anyhooo….the writers on this site consistently submit high quality work which tends to be more eclectic in approach and keeps my old wheels turning upstairs….you fit in nicely.

  2. Sharon Cobb 12:15pm, 11/17/2013

    Irish—-There was a time Tex may have been able to beat Mike outside of the ring, but I don’t think so, now.  Someone just sent me a recent picture of Tex, and he looks awful.  I bet he is a light-heavy to begin with.  I would guess he is around 180, soaking wet. In the other side of that, Tyson let himself go and was morbidly obese at 360 pounds.  Mike, through hard work, lost 160 pounds!!!!!!  That’s astounding.  Tex doesn’t have that kind of discipline.  Tex’s workout regime consists of chopping wood,  and no cardio or anything else I know of.  I saw the picture and thought he might have a brain injury.  He wanted to fight Mike, but I wouldn’t let him, now.  Of course, I don’t have a say in it now. I’d like to see Mike take on a real contender, or a rematch with Lewis.  Lewis is in Doha now, where Al Jazeera is located, and I hear they want to get into boxing in a big way.  In Abu Dhabi, both men and the promoters could make a bundle of money.  Abu Dhabi and Dubai are going to Meccas, so to speak, of the Middle East.  I know the Sultans really see the potential for boxing, not to mention the revenue.These places in the United Arab Emeritus are such contradictions.  They are very Western in some ways, yet conservative in others.  A woman can wear a bath suit, but she has to be careful where she wears it.  They have the “call to prayer” 5 times a day, yet quite the night life.  I suggest if you ever have some extra money, check it out.  I would love love love to promote fights there.

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 11:53am, 11/17/2013

    Sharon Cobb-You’re a lot closer to the subject than the rest of us….so I will reserve judgement on this scripted and rehearsed version of Iron Mike….which reminds me….I am a fan of DWTS and my money says he would probably be teamed with Cheryl Burke but even with that juicy assignment he would probably bail early with an injury. Which reminds me….not to worry…. your husband could kick Mike’s ass outside the ring and yes Tyson would bite.

  4. Sharon Cobb 11:23am, 11/17/2013

    NY Irish. I agree. I’d love to see him do color. He just needs to keep putting his wife and children first, and the rest will follow. It’s when these boxers start hanging out with their sycophants that they get in trouble, and believe me, they are with drugs, women, and anything else they want. He and I did the Tango at Robert Duvall’s house on New Years Eve. Tex and I heard a soft voice behind us asking,“Mr. Cobb, may I dance with your wife?”  He was such a gentleman, I had to remind myself he could rip my head off. Tyson could win “Dancing With The Stars.” He does a mean Tango, and could really hold his frame for other ballroom dances. He may kill me now knowing I told everyone he can Tango! lol (Do it, Mike.  Not kill me, Dancing With the Stars)

  5. Sharon Cobb 11:14am, 11/17/2013

    Ted, glad you liked it.  When you watch it, you’ll see a very real Tyson….like you have never seen him.  I am glad he’s making money with his one man show and grateful to Spike Lee for seeing the potential in a show with Mike.

  6. Sharon Cobb 11:11am, 11/17/2013

    Thank you, Pete.  Who knew he had a sense of humor?  And humility?  I am really happy for him and hope he stays sober and doesn’t get with a bad crowd, again.  I loved the way he dissed Don King.  After Cus, I suppose he was given some vision to see what he had with Cus, and what the others are like.  In my opinion, and it may or may not be in his book, which I am going to try to review within a week,  I think he’s got one more fight and I think it will be Lennox Lewis.  Lewis is tweeting a lot about fighting, and call it “women’s intuition,” but I think he will take on Lewis.  That was the last Tyson fight I saw in person….Lewis-Tyson in Memphis.  I suspect Mike would like a “do over.”  Anyhow, he seems to have his priorities straight, now.

  7. Pete The Sneak 10:06am, 11/17/2013

    Nice write up Sharon…I too thoroughly enjoyed the program. Tyson, despite all the drama he had to dig through in this presentation, was at times absolutely hilarious and real…The Mitch Blood Green and Robin Givens discussions had me howling. .Peace.

  8. Ted 07:28am, 11/17/2013

    Good post Irish

  9. NYIrish 06:50am, 11/17/2013

    Glad he’s staying out of trouble. Hope he stays sober. It’s no surprise that he’s a performer. I couldn’t help think of Jake LaMotta doing his night club act in Raging Bull. Good he’s making a buck. He would be one of the best boxing analysts around. He really knows the sport and the history. Mike doing color on a live broadcast would add a suspense element even if the fight was a yawn.

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