15 years ago the two gladiators were arch rivals, slugging it out in the infamous “Bite Fight” in Las Vegas in late June 1997. Now Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield are on far friendlier terms.
Holyfield attended Tyson’s acclaimed one-man show in Las Vegas in April and recently shared complimentary words about Tyson to sports columnist George Willis in the June 30 edition of The New York Post. “It’s a great thing when people can make fun of themselves,” said Holyfield of Tyson. “That means they’re over it. If you’ve had issues in your life and (you are) trying to hide them, it scares you because you don’t want anybody to know and you act like you haven’t made mistakes.”
Holyfield told Willis that he sees Tyson, once world-renowned as “the baddest man on the planet”, as having evolved to become an inspiration for all people to improve their example. “I tell people all the time, Mike probably can change more people than anybody because people will look at Mike and say, ‘If Mike can change, I can change.’ Now he’s letting it all go.”
Interestingly, Holyfield suggested the pressures and stresses of the ring may have played a hand in deforming Tyson into the bad guy role he once seemed happy to portray. “Everybody was always telling (Mike), all you need is to be tough. Then everybody liked him for how tough he was but nobody liked him for the person he was. All the sudden he was trying to be ‘Iron Mike’ the whole time instead of being ‘Iron Mike’ when he was in the ring and a different person when you’re out of the ring. If you don’t know how to switch those things, you’re going to burn out.”
Tyson’s long-time close friend Mario Costa attended all six of Tyson’s stage performances in Las Vegas and observed Holyfield’s positive reaction in the audience from a few seats away. Costa told me, “Holyfield really enjoyed seeing Mike on the stage, he was smiling and laughing throughout the show. The expression on his face showed that he seemed really happy to see Mike having success and doing something well that is different than boxing. He looked really happy for Mike.”
Tyson’s one man show will open on Broadway at the Longacre Theater in New York City on July 31 and run through August. Originally scheduled for six shows, due to enormous success, an additional six dates have been added. “Undisputed Truth”.