at the corner. Look at this place. This is why I have the desire to win
dramatically and brutally. That's Bristol Park. I saw people shot here,
stabbed, beaten with baseball bats. That building over there: I ran inside it
and hid; the cops were chasing me. Sure I used a gun. I'd walk in a store with
a .22 and hold it in front of the man's face."
time I robbed someone I was 15. They were a couple, they had on those big
sheepskin coats and hats like Russians wear. We tore them off."
wasn't long ago. You lived here not long ago...."
"But I don't
feel the urge to steal anymore. I don't need to, I'm established. God, I hate
that word, established. People who call themselves established—put them on
these streets for five minutes, let's see how established they are. There's
Lincoln Terrace Park. We'd see dead whores there in the morning. What memories.
Good memories. Beautiful memories. I was happier then. I had pure fun here.
Every day I was living on the edge. I was wild and free. I love coming back. Do
you understand? When I'm here, I feel like a warrior."
He enters the
ring with no socks, no robe, no dancing, no music, just the black shoes and
trunks, the hard, massive body, the refrigerated anger in his eyes. There was
never any choice, the violence about to occur had to be—this is what his face
and body say. The bell rings, and the photographs of him in the next morning's
papers will show that same terrible lust in his face, the same wrinkled-up nose
and drawn-back lips, the same urgency to hit something.
People say he is
an instinctive fighter. People are wrong. His first instinct was to run.
Driver, slow down: Yes, in front of that gutted-out building—up there, on the
roof—that's where Mike Tyson stopped running and finally fought back. Yes, it
was 12 years ago. No, it was just now.
Can you see him?
He's shorter than the other boys his age. His left eye crosses when he's
nervous. His face is one of those big, round ones old women like to squeeze. He
lisps and talks softly, like a little girl. Other kids recognize him
immediately—a victim. Everyone beats him up, even girls. They make fun of him,
take his money and clothes; they hit him and laugh and hit him again as he runs
home in tears.
Home is not
always better. His older brother beats him up when his mother's not there; he
cowers behind the refrigerator, sometimes even eats meals there. His father—he
left when Mike was inside his mother's belly. Lorna Tyson and her three
children survive on public assistance. She bounces Mike on her knee when he
comes home crying, until, at last, the funny sound of his own jiggling sobs
makes him stop.
She is one of the
sweet innocents of Brownsville, one of the generation of big, round women whose
families migrated from the South believing in God, the ones who still look to
the sky for justice. Her children have never seen a cornstalk ripen or watched
a newborn lamb grow old; they can't see what she sees in the sky. All around
them are those empty lots, those abandoned houses, those skulls. The last
tenement they lived in had no water or heat. They slept with their clothes on
and their eyes open. Neighbors, hoping the city would move them to a public
shelter, kept setting fire to the place.