Former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson will not be provoked … anymore.
Sounded to me as though KFAN’s Common Man, Dan Cole, was trying to fire up the beast in Iron Mike during an interview that preceded Tyson coming to Minneapolis to promote ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights.” Now a fight promoter, Tyson met the crowd, did media interviews and presided over weigh-ins held at the nearby Pour House for the Target Center bouts.
Based on what I’ve read about Tyson’s one-man show, “Undisputed Truth,” and his answers to questions from Common, it sounded as though the boxer still has issues with his ex Robin Givens and his accuser Desiree Washington. In one of TV’s most uncomfortable interviews, Givens, his then-wife, told Barbara Walters of Tyson’s volatile temper and intimidating demeanor. Tyson served time for the 1991 rape of Washington.
“If you look at the one-man show, it sure didn’t seem [he was over his problems] with Washington and Givens,” Common told me. “He lays it pretty heavy on Washington and Givens. My guess is their descriptions of events would be different. I said, ‘You’re telling me you are basically not guilty of raping Desiree Washington? He said Yeah, I’m telling the truth.”
I didn’t try to rile Tyson (as you’ll see on my startribune.com/video), but I did ask him about Givens and Washington. I also asked him about Nelson Mandela. Former local broadcasting personality Sheletta Brundidge once told me the only time she ever saw Tyson emotional was years ago when he was asked about the former president of South Africa.
Q How did you handle the death of Nelson Mandela? You were fond of him.
A I was in Africa when that happened. Hey, he lived 95 years. He had a good life. Like everybody else, hard times fall upon everybody, I don’t care who you are. But he had a really sensational life and he’s not in pain anymore.
Q Are there any men who’ve allegedly done wrong by you with whom you are as angry as you are with Desiree Washington and Robin Givens?
A Well, I’m not angry with them. What gives you an indication I’m angry with them?
Q Because of things said in “Undisputed Truth.”
A I’m not angry with nobody. I wouldn’t be as successful as I am if I was still angry at somebody.
Q Do you think some interviewers try to goad you into doing something inappropriate? I was listening to your interview on KFAN with the Common Man. It sounded like he was trying to get you to flip out.
A Those flip-out days are over!
Q You’re really in complete control of that?
A Yeah, they’re gone.
Q You complained about the Minnesota cold today. Did you bring a fur?
A No, not a fur. We can’t kill animals to keep me warm.
Q How about a fake fur?
A Mine is kind of fake, yeah.
Q Do you ever get tired of people wanting to pose with you with their fist up to your face?
A I don’t think about that.
Q What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done that nobody is going to know about until you tell me right now?
A I’m not ready to tell you. [Playful tone.]
Q Have you thought about a career in stand-up comedy because you’re so funny?
A I don’t think I’m funny. It’s funny that you say that. I don’t consider myself funny.
Q Your kids don’t think you’re funny?
A No, my kids definitely don’t think I’m funny.
Interviews are edited. To e-mail C.J. try firstname.lastname@example.org and see her on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”