LIKE THE Jackson 5 and the Harlem Globetrotters before him, Mike Tyson has crossed a key threshold of popular iconography: He has his own cartoon, Mike Tyson Mysteries. Evoking the look, feel and political incorrectness of 1970s-era Saturday-morning animation, the show has Tyson solving crimes with the Marquess of Queensbury's ghost, Tyson's Korean daughter and a pigeon voiced by Norm MacDonald. It gets weirder from there.
SI:How'd you end up the superhero sleuth of your own cartoon?
MT: Network executives came to me with the idea. At the height of my boxing career, no one would come near me [with this pitch] with a million-foot pole. I couldn't see myself in that sphere, and I didn't know if I was going to be portrayed as a big, mean villain guy.
SI:Your character is pretty ditzy. Is he meant to be a parody of your public image?
MT: No, it's really me. I'm a horrible driver, and there's a scene where I'm sucking as a driver, picking up Buzz Aldrin, so they used things like that. It's my real personality, away from the cameras.
SI: You've been doing comedy for a decade now. Was this the plan?
MT: I never thought I was funny. But then I did my one-man show [Undisputed Truth], and I was spilling my guts about horrific things in my life, like how I don't know who my father is, and the audience is on the floor laughing. We started ad-libbing and adding jokes, and now it's considered a stand-up act even though it was never meant to be.
SI:Does comedy make your difficult past easier to face?
MT: I took myself too seriously when I was fighting. I was bullied a lot as a kid, and I wanted people to know not to mess with me. But I became somebody different, a funny guy, and I'm very conscious of how people perceive me now.
They Said It
"We don't have the real Stocktons. They don't make those anymore."
Clippers guard, lamenting that the smallest size shorts he can get are medium, which don't match the retro cool of retired Jazz guard John Stockton's short shorts.
WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. (TYSON)
ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (DOUGLAS-ROBERTS)