Tyson vs. Nelson

Nov 22, 1985

Coliseum, Latham, New York, U.S.

We learn about proportion: fists, bodies, faces. The ring is tight, and camera low. A cursory analysis strikes the chord of a cage, the blunt fact of separation. The inside, the outside. A syllabus for moving: aggressive, and almost immediate. Tell me about these footsteps, about footnotes. Two small boys run into the ring holding a sign proclaiming Mike Tyson “Doctor KO.” This is also a pedagogy: a learning, and an unlearning. Like a fist opening and closing. A word spoken and unspoken. Tell me about it: the clutter. The tremor, the whisper, the word. Tell me about this stage.

Tyson vs. Spain

Jun 20, 1985

Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.

Mike Tyson’s walk is a master class in slowness, his gloved hands hung low at his side, each step paced (i.e deliberate) rather than pacing (i.e. anxious), so posed or poised, casual in appearance but brutal in context, almost plodding, step after conscious step of casual performance, neither excited nor winded. Character study. Count to ten (i.e. breathe). Spain on the canvas, amongst the ropes, exhales an exasperated damn. As if to say to hell, or from it. Madness as method: a lit fuse for a fist. The judgement, injury, condemnation. Heavy nights and pensive brows, like tarnished silver (i.e. bruised).

Tyson vs. Jaco

Jan 11, 1986

Plaza Convention Center, Albany, New York, U.S.

There are things we cannot see. We cannot, for example, see the wind. Imagine a tornado without debris: all cause and no effect. From certain angles, we cannot see Mike Tyson’s fist, his punch – only the back of Jaco’s head, the snap of his neck. We cannot see the sportscaster when he calls Mike Tyson a human whirlwind. We cannot see the judges’ scorecards. This is how we walk by faith, shadowboxing an unseen opponent. The appearance of things: the substance, the presence, the way the human eye evolves. This is how we trust a transformation we cannot see.


ANDREW RIHN is the author of several chapbooks, including America Plops and Fizzes (2011). Most recently, he co-authored with his wife The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: An Election Cycle (2017) and The Day of Small Things (2018).