What Chris Brown Can Learn From Mike Tyson

Chrihanna back together? A new Mike Tyson documentary offers a cautionary look back.


To watch "Tyson," the former heavyweight champion’s self-produced mea culpa on all things Mike, is to unpack two decades’ worth of crazy: the rape conviction, the prison conversion, the chewed ear, the DUI arrest, the bankruptcy, the Don King dustup … that Barbara Walters’ train wreck of an interview with Robin Givens.

The documentary feels especially timely viewed alongside the unfolding drama surrounding pop stars Chris Brown and Rihanna, who are rumored to be back together in the midst of a criminal investigation of domestic abuse.

Tysonolder, broker and not necessarily wiser in the filmhas regrets aplenty: “I’m an insane individual. I put all these drugs in my body … What I’ve done in the past is history. And what I do in the future is a mystery.”

And so it goes. "Tyson," the documentary directed by James Toback, is a 90-minute monologue, a self-portrait of the boxer as an angry young man. A young man for whom carefully calibrated rage was the ticket to hundreds of millions in riches. Until it wasn’t.

"Tyson," which debuted at Sundance earlier this year and opens nationwide in May, is also an experience of unsettling déjà vu: Back in the day, he was half of a golden couple—the other half being Givens—a couple whose every move was tracked, discussed and paparazzi-fied. He was babyfaced and buff, the youngest to claim the heavyweight title, a man who found fame as a teen. She was beautiful and smart, Bill Cosby’s protégée. They were young, rich, famous and in love. Until it all fell apart amid accusations of domestic abuse and battery.

“It’s been torture. It’s been pure hell,” Givens told Barbara Walters back in the late ‘80s, while Tyson sat by her side, looking dazed and confused. “He gets out of control, throwing, screaming … He shakes, he pushes, he swings. Just recently, I became afraid … Very, very much afraid.”

And with those words, Tyson was cast in the role of the savage beast. Givens got to play the gold-digging she-devil, “the most hated woman in America,” her name shorthand in rap lyrics for the ultimate in conniving chickenheads. (Never mind that Givens says that she never saw a dime of Tyson’s money.)

I'll rob Boyz II Men like I'm Michael Bivens

Catch Tyson for half that cash, like Robin Givens.

—50 Cent, “How To Rob.”