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Cover Story: Mike Tyson – The Assassination of Iron Mike

This Aug. 2, 2010 file image released by Starpix shows former boxer Mike Tyson, right, and his wife Kiki Tyson at the curtain call for the opening night of "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth," at the Longacre Theatre in New York. The one man show starring Tyson was directed by Spike Lee, and written by Kiki Tyson. (AP Photo/Starpix, Amanda Schwab)

By//Kyra Kyles

Mike Tyson asserts that he long ago banished the womanizing, threat-lobbing, ear-chomping brute to the basement of his subconscious. That person— iconic as he was in the world of boxing— was not real. The brick-fisted fighter with a gold tooth and tribal tattoo etched across his cheekbone and temple was born in the mind of the former champ’s surrogate father and trainer Constantine “Cus” D’amato. The beastly alter ego was then nurtured by a bloodthirsty sports media, and ultimately, ushered into adulthood by Tyson himself.

Iron Mike’s appetite for destruction led to unparalleled success. At the age of 20, he broke records as the youngest heavyweight champion in history. Then he upped the ante by becoming the first in his weight class to hold all three major belts. Potential opponents fretted over the face-rearranging power of his knockout punches.

Today, Tyson wants the public to meet the real man behind the fearsome image. “You can’t be a good person when you’re a fighter,” he insists, describing the fallacies of his former persona. “The media, the fans, they all want to see a tough guy who doesn’t care about anyone else— only about winning. I admit I was that person.”

Fans saw a glimpse of Tyson’s true self in his hilarious cameo in the 2009 hit The Hangover and its 2011 sequel. This past March, he daringly revealed even more with Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth— Live on Stage, his acclaimed one-week show at the Hollywood Theatre at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Now, with the help of director Spike Lee, the former champ is headed to Broadway.