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Tyson's autobiography reveals some grim truths

Mike Tyson's new book doesn't short-change the reader of the grim details - and high points - of his life.

Mike Tyson. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Mike Tyson. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)Read more

MIKE TYSON has snorted enough cocaine to line a football field. Snorted it before some fights, then used somebody else's clean urine to fool the testers. Brags about it in his new book. Snorted when he was happy, snorted when he was sad, which was most of the time.

That makes him an addict. A recovering addict, because he is taking it one day at a time.

Mike Tyson has been drinking since he was an infant. Cheap hooch, then. He says he prefers Hennessy's now, when he topples off the wagon. Uh-huh, recovering alcoholic, one blessed day at a time.

Mike Tyson has written his autobiography, with help from Larry Sloman. He calls it Undisputed Truth. Same title as the raw, one-man show he brings to Caesars in Atlantic City on Jan. 25. Same title as the HBO version of that raw, one-man show.

Starts the book by declaring that he did not rape that beauty pageant contestant in Indianapolis, even though he wound up doing a 3-year stretch in the joint, when a jury of his peers found him guilty.

Peers? There was one black dude on the jury; and the foreman was a gung-ho ex-Marine; and his high-priced lawyer was Don King's tax attorney; and he never got to testify, even though King's tax attorney promised the jury he would; and the beauty pageant contestant was not the sweet, innocent scholar the district attorney painted her to be; and Indiana is a state where the KKK once had an ominous presence, and . . . argggh, you get the idea.

Uses the light sentence as proof of his innocence, saying he could have gotten 60 years for rape, not 6, reduced to 3. But he did try voodoo to get the sentence reduced.

The tax attorney built his defense around Tyson's image: primitive, savage, Neanderthal, belligerent, bullying womanizer, so what was the beauty pageant contestant doing in Tyson's hotel room at 2 in the morning?

And now Tyson has written a 580-page autobiography confirming that image: primitive, savage, etc., etc. It is mind-numbingly explicit (Tyson boasts about his photographic memory). The guy has been in more rehab centers than a pharmaceutical rep pushing Zoloft, taken part in more orgies than Caligula, had a childhood that makes Oliver Twist's story read like a picnic in the park.

And, oh, yeah, hissed away close to a billion dollars, mostly on furs, luxury cars, jewelry and mansions he never lived in, plus some extravagant stuff. Fantasized about a 30-bedroom house with a beautiful woman in every room, at his beck and call, which tells you all you need to know about his sex addiction. Recovering sex addict.

Why would I recommend a tawdry book like this? Partly because it's relevant on two fronts. Tyson recounts the sewage of his childhood. All the cologne in France cannot chase the stink. He was bullied because he was short and fat and wore rumpled clothes and glasses and didn't bathe for days at a time.

He survives those cruel streets, becomes the youngest heavyweight champion in history. And then turns bully, himself. Maybe this helps us better understand the wretched Richie Incognito story?

And then there's the flagrant use of the N-word. Mostly on the odd-numbered pages, a fistful at a time. Let's see, 290 multiplied by 4.2, that's 1,218 times, give or take 150 that the N-word appears. A new record for memoirs? Debate that if you want, just not around Charles Barkley, who has his own interpretation of the Constitution.

America was fascinated by Tyson back then, this fierce warrior who came into the ring with no robe and no socks. And left soon after, still toting the championship belt. Fearsome, and that was before he painted the left side of his face with that Maori symbol.

He is counting on our fascination to sell his book, which isn't all bleak and crude and lewd. There are some humorous moments sprinkled throughout. He's on a yacht in Saint-Tropez. A rich Jewish guy's yacht and the guy is eyeing this other Jewish guy whose boat is moored nearby.

"Then one guy said, 'Harvard '79?'

"Yes, didn't you study macroeconomics?"

"Yeah. Didn't you date Cindy from Hyannis Port? I dated her too for a second."

"So I'm on this boat and I see a big black guy. He's the bodyguard for a very well-known international arms dealer. And I'm looking at him and looking at him and I just can't place him. He came over to me.

"Spofford [prison] '78?" he asked.

"Bleep, n-----, we met in lockdown," I remembered.

"Yeah, I got into that fight with the guy in the chow hall."

And for every funny moment, there is an anecdote of rage and violence. Tyson claims he'd occasionally beat up Don King, kick him in the head. Claims he was disrespected by the British promoter Frank Warren. Says he broke his jaw with one punch. Says he stomped him and broke his ribs. Says he hit him with a paperweight and broke his eye socket. Dragged him to a window and threatened to toss him into the street.

Why? Because Warren didn't pay for some obscenely expensive baubles Tyson had bought in London.

Tyson is married now, to an attractive, smart Philadelphia woman named Kiki. They have two kids. She wrote his show. And after his performance here, we talked. He had shed 25 pounds of blubber, apparently along with 30 years of belligerence, bitterness, anger, self-hate. Recovery is brutally hard, but he seemed to have a handle on it.

Then he finished writing the book and toppled off the wagon, drinking Hennessy, smoking weed. He has suffered enough, lugged too many others through enough suffering. Read the book, say a prayer for Mike Tyson.