Iron Mike

Posted on July 15, 2009


By Adam Moorad

SOMETIMES MIKE TYSON WATCHES VHS tapes of himself, fighting peek-a-boo style on national television, wearing black shorts and slippers, punching Razor Ruddock in the forehead somewhere in Las Vegas.  His remembers the feel of his gloves on his fingers and misses their friendship.

The ropes around the ring sense the fighters and hold them inside.  Mike Tyson’s knuckles pulse to the rhythm to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” and the crowd shouts indecipherable things.  The heat inside the ring is contagious and seems to vibrate and ring like a slot machine.  Mike Tyson’s fists are followed by the crowd’s collective eye.  A clock ticks down.  Mike Tyson thinks, “This is the round that never ends.”  A bell dings.  Four or five people run into the ring.  Their voices are muted and faces contorted.  The referee says something under his breath and laughs.

Mike Tyson sweats, tries to inhale through his nostrils, and closes his eyes.  He feels like crying.  He cries.  He can’t stops crying.  He feels his muscles tweaking, swelling, and throbbing.

Another bell dings.  Mike Tyson imagines he is in the process of becoming a Champion again.  He can feel a heavy-weight belt clasped around his waist and he smiles.  He looks at Razor Ruddock and doesn’t know what to do.  He feels confused and punches Razor Ruddock in the mouth, wondering what he looks like behind a television camera. Don King watches from the stands and yawns.

Mike Tyson feels vaguely cheerful.  He looks at the crowd and spits then smoothes his head with the thumb of his glove.  The television pundits provide a frame-by-frame analysis with a sloppy digital pen accentuating various muscles flexions and specific points of impact.  Mike Tyson’s fist sticks to Razor Ruddock’s face as if it’s glued.  Japanese people whisper Japanese to one another behind a Japanese camera flash.  Don King picks his Hanes boxer briefs, strokes his moustache, and cackles inside a cigar smoke cloud.

Mike Tyson imagines a version of himself somewhere in the future, with no money or success, with no family or friends.  He pictures someone offering him some water but he refuses and begins to fuss.  He blinks several times and visualizes himself sick in bed with a cold and feels awkward.  Mike Tyson chews his fingernails and is overcome by the urge to fight something but can only throw soft punches into a hypoallergenic pillow.

Mike Tyson grinds his knuckles into the palm of his hand and calls himself a Protagonist.  He sees himself in a miniature television monitor and feels misrepresented.  He closes his eyes and envisions a ladybug crawling across the ridges of his brain as if lost in a cold damp labyrinth.

Someone embraces Mike Tyson and says the word “Phenomenon.”  Mike Tyson looks at the VHS Mike Tyson looking at this person in the face and is taken by a craving for French fries and ketchup.

He whispers something to himself and thinks about boxing in the 1984 Olympics then throws an uppercut in Razor Ruddock’s jaw and pictures Razor Ruddock’s wife eating French fries and ketchup and wants to suck the grease and salt from her fingertips.  Mike Tyson breathes and tastes musky sweat reeking from his underarms.

He remembers feeling afraid of knocking someone out and ruining their career.  He tries to calculate the amount of prize money with a percentage of his brain.  He can’t focus on any specific amount and says the word “Mommy.”

Mike Tyson feels Razor Ruddock indirectly urging him to have sex with an extremely attractive woman and he want to be friends.  Mike Tyson thinks, “Nice” and punches Razor Ruddock in the back of the head and Razor Ruddock begins to make squirrel noises.

Mike Tyson wonders what everyone would think if he decided to fall over with a stiff body and a neutral facial expression.  He makes a neutral facial expression and holds it, thinking about the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Mike Tyson begins to feel very depressed and wants to break both of someone’s arms.  He asks himself, “What do I mean by that?” then thinks, “I don’t know what I mean.” He stares at his VHS self staring at the ceiling of the arena and wonders why nothing seems realistic anymore.  He thinks, “My style is impetuous.”

Adam’s writing has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Underground Voices, Thieves Jargon, Storyglossia, PANK, and Pear Noir. He lives in Brooklyn and works in publishing. Visit him here:

Posted in: July 2009