In a sea of ghost-written fight memoirs and tweets with poor grammar, truly beautiful boxing writing is a treat. Andrew Rihn’s Revelation: An Apocalypse in Fifty-Eight Fights is one such treat that’s engaging and readable, but to tell the story of one of boxing’s greatest, Rihn uses an unexpected tool: poetry.
Revelation is made up of fifty-eight prose poems, each dedicated to one of Mike Tyson’s professional boxing matches. Every poem in the book is just one hundred words long, but this quick read is a truly creative take on sport, career, and humanity. Like fights, each poem is absolutely unique in tone and in structure. They show snapshots of a ring walk (“The start of something: existential.”) or victory (“Gloves like flames are raised above the ropes.”) or defeat (“What does it mean to show your pain to 16,000 people?”). The sections cover all elements of Tyson’s life; in fifty-eight pages we see fights in mid-action, press conference sound bites, and advertising copy from fight posters. The poems don’t seek to summarize “Iron” Mike’s career, but wonder at the ideas of boxing, fighting, and life. By the fifty-eighth poem, Rihn leaves us with a haunting last image of Tyson sitting on his stool after his final fight.
Andrew Rihn expertly weaves poetic conventions around key moments in Tyson history, such that the poems are still accessible for the average boxing fan and a poet who’s new to the sweet science could begin to learn and love the sport, too. Overall, Revelation is a solid introduction to poetry for boxers, and to boxing for poets.
Buy Revelation at Press 53: https://www.press53.com/andrew-rihn