LYON WOODSTOCK: THE CONTEMPORARY COMPLEXITIES OF INTERVIEWING A BOXING INTELLECTUAL
Updated: Aug 23, 2020
Lyon Woodstock maintains a curious profile within the majority of written boxing press. A superficial glance confers the impression of a maverick; more considered research suggests that Lyon is a unique, loquacious personality, and one who is as given to taking interviewers through kaleidoscopic, fanciful tangents than he is to succinctly answer their formulaic questions.
This latter ability is often venerated and used to provide unique marketing angles on pieces, yet herein lies a noticeable, important conflict: so few writers then adequately represent this personality within these said pieces. It feels incongruous and reductive to read of an intelligent fighter with the ability to freeform discursive soliloquies, and to then be fed tepid quotes on every day boxing mundanities: Lyon’s thoughts on the quotidian routine of moving from four to six rounders, for example, or the trite, common and rehashed pugilistic platitudes of future world championship aspirations.
It has therefore long been an aspiration of mine to speak directly to Lyon, to ascertain exactly what he is like and to resolve, personally at least, the resultant discord of the above articles. That opportunity presented itself on Sunday 9th February.
The Tuesday prior (4th) had seen Lyon metaphorically sashay past the onlooking boxing social media community, wearing translucent red lingerie whilst, literally, offering up the allure of a ‘proper interview’. Stating his tease verbatim, it read: ‘A LOT has happened in the last 2 years. I’ve got a lot to say on it any media company looking to do a proper interview on it holla at me. I’ve got a lot to say and share. I’ve learnt a lot and been through a lot and I’d love to share it with whoever wants to listen might help a few’.
Such is the incurable clamour within boxing media for content that his offer was instantly bundled upon by any and all outlets. What was immediate and amusing to observe was the practice of many of those outlets and the individuals associated with them, then subsequently promoting their soon-to-be-released content as ‘EXCLUSIVE’. I passed a bleak Friday (7th) commute counting how many of these fraudulent claims I could find. It was already 5; impressive, given that by the time I spoke to Leon on the evening of the 9th, I was only the fourth person to do so. He informed me that he was ‘shocked’ by the ‘unexpected reaction’, and that he was in the process of arranging many more film and written interviews for the week ahead.
However, what had also struck me as peculiar was that following these other outlets' promotional, social media enticements, not one of them had then actually published either their written or filmed content. The reason for this also became apparent on speaking to Lyon: publication of the story was embargoed until it had been broken first by the preeminent institutional monolith, Boxing News. This request understandably frustrated, given that no writer truly wishes to invest significant time telling a story that will then have its exposure diluted via the dissemination of similarities from various other outlets, especially larger ones. But keen to hear the story, I was, and so we proceeded forth with the interview.
It is worth stating here that Lyon’s story is legitimate and fascinating. As implied, it would be tautologous of me to repeat it here once again – know only in summary that it interweaves the loss of and alteration in multiple significant relationships, the lingering distressful effects of an abusive childhood, an awakening spiritual experience provoked through meditative practice, the importance of family and immaterialism, and a warm, mutually respectful friendship with commonwealth super featherweight champion, Zelfa Barrett – but I have since read Terry Dooley’s account in Boxing News and it is an honest, accurate, thorough and edifying reflection of the anecdotes shared, so I recommend that you read about it there…or either await the ‘exclusives’ from one of the other innumerable outlets.
It is also perhaps important to mention that whilst releasing a cryptic tweet and thus issuing a 'come get me' to media outlets is a shrewd PR move, one that combined with halting the release of content to a specific date ensures an eventual 'content dump' that will then see you dominating the news cycle for a focused period, in this instance this advantageous outcome appears more accidental than deliberate. Lyon seemed genuine and sincere in his desire to simply share his experiences and to promote the awareness and benefits of meditation to others who may be requiring of them.
...And so, what about Lyon… Was he as garrulous as suggested? As intriguing and unusual as often alluded?
Let’s just say that our interview spanned 89 minutes in length and that I only asked two questions (…beyond ‘Is now ok to talk?’ and ‘Can I record this?’). I was never once bored, and boxing comprised approximately only a meagre 8 minutes of the discussion. Boxers, Lyon included, often counterintuitively describe the sport as a predominantly mental act, and Leon is clearly an articulate, cerebral young man. He describes boxing as ‘only a small part’ of his ‘journey’. Transcending the trauma of his formative years, finding inner equanimity and a way to silence the incessant ruminations of his mind, whilst prioritising the development of and quality time with his daughter seem far more preferential considerations. And rightly so, in my opinion.
Canelo Alvarez markets the belief ‘No Boxing No Life’; and whilst one gets the impression that boxing still remains a vital part of Lyon’s life, it was refreshing to enjoy an entertaining discussion with a boxer away from the usual promotional environment which primarily rewards those who are obstreperous, ego-driven and cynically careerist; to actually talk about a vibrant, thriving life, in a context largely free from the overbear of boxing.
I would welcome the opportunity to do so all over again, yet next time hopefully in a more monogamous setting, away from and not in obvious competition with/so obviously aware of the leering, orgiastic eyes of the insatiable content crunchers.