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Mike Tyson on his one-man show, his recovery and his violent past

Mike Tyson speaks on stage during his speaking tour,
Mike Tyson speaks on stage during his speaking tour, "Day of the Champions" at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on November 16, 2012 in Brisbane, Australia.
Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Mike Tyson speaks on stage during his speaking tour,
AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Mike Tyson speaks on stage during his speaking tour,
Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (R) and the promoter Don King are seen in a car during a pause of the World Boxing Council convention in Mexico city 01 November 1988.
Mike Tyson speaks on stage during his speaking tour,
Mike Tyson brings his one man show to the Pantages Theater.
Handout/Getty Images

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Boxing legend Mike Tyson is no longer driven by violence and need to hurt others, at least that’s been the theme of his public life since his last professional match in June 2005, after which he humbly said, “I'm sorry I let everybody down, I'm fighting just to pay my bills. I don't have the stomach for this anymore...I don't have the desire for it. I feel bad for the people...I wish they could get their money back.”

After a career punctuated by pulverizing opponents in the ring and serving time in prison for rape, Tyson’s life after boxing has resembled a never-ending confessional, and no topics (whether it’s sex, addiction, rage, or bankruptcy) are off limits.

So, when Tyson took to the stage in April 2012 on the Las Vegas strip to perform a one-man show about his life, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” few were shocked but thousands flocked to see him bare all yet again in his own trademarked blend of soft-spokenness and raw honesty.

Tyson has taken his show on the road, and he starts a three-night stand at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood at 8:00 p.m. tonight, when Angelinos will get to decide if Tyson really is a man transformed or simply a great entertainer.

Interview Highlights:

On why he decided to so a biographical stage show:
"I never thought I wanted to tell my story, but I watched  Chazz Palminteri's "A Bronx Tale" on stage, and he was so magnificent you couldn't believe that he had grasped our attention. The place was packed and you could hear him breathe, and that's how quiet we were. He had us captivated and I wanted to have something to do with that, I wanted to have some of that magic that he had…I wanted to have that kind of performance on people, because when you go see this guy perform, you got your money's worth and then some." 

On how recovery programs changed his life: 
"The best thing to ever happen to me was I got involved with recovery programs. Even though I go through my relapses and stuff, this is the best thing that I can push myself to become a better person. I don't have to be Iron Mike Tyson. I could be Michael Gerard Tyson, I can raise a family and respect my wife and not give her a venereal disease and cheat on her. Iron Mike Tyson can't do that."

On why heavyweight boxing isn't as popular as it used to be:
"That happens in time, they don't have anymore heavyweights they have to go with someone else. There's no American heavyweights that are exciting to that plateau that makes people want to see them. they're not fighting like they really want to hurt people, that's not nice to say in the society that we live is pretty much hyper violent. but that's what makes good fights when people want to hurt each other."

On his violent reputation:
"My whole life was dictated by violence, extreme violence…Regardless of that, I got work for that violence, so it became a narcotic. I really despised that person and tried to erase that person from my memory bank. But that person that I despised was the person that everybody loves and comes to see. Isn't that really weird? I have a really dynamic I have a problem with that, they don't understand as soon as I'm on the stage, they start screaming, but they're not listening to my words...The best audience I've had is when they listen to all my words."

On being sober for 4.5 years:
"It's not really about the drugs, it's about me developing my life, because I would never have been able to develop these life skills — that my father didn't possess that my mother didn't possess — that's why they died the way they died if I never got involved with these recovery problems. They gave me skills that just, once the situation happens they go into affect."

Mike Tyson, former undisputed world champion heavyweight boxer who retired with 44 KOs in 58 fights