Homage to the Mexican Roadsweeper
..a photo essay about a throwaway line and the unsung heroes
Sometimes simple things inform where we point our camera. Facts, song lyrics and quotes can hang around in the recess of our minds and reappear years later. Growing up in 80s and 90s Britain, the culture and colloquialisms of that time have shaped my perspective. When I travel and meet people that don't share this history, I realise that such things differentiate us. And mix with our personalities and interests to influence our photographic choices.
In 1987, fresh from a first-punch finish1, Nigel Benn uttered a phrase that became part of British boxing parlance. "I don't want to fight any more Mexican roadsweepers"2. Ironically, Benn had not fought any Mexicans and subsequently never did. So he was probably referring to an evening at the Royal Albert Hall seven years earlier. Dubbed the Night of the Tijuana Tumblers3, four Mexican boxers came to London and were blown away inside a combined total of seven rounds. Feeling short-changed by the lack of action, many punters questioned whether boxing was really their profession. Down the years, other fighters have repeated this phrase to express their readiness for the big time.
Between 2021 and 2023, I wandered the streets of Mexico and captured whatever intrigued me. Hardworking roadsweepers and clean streets were a recurring sight. And with that analogy in my subconscious, maybe it was unsurprising that these images would end up on my camera. And have become an innocuous offshoot from Boy in the Better Land. So it's with that and a nod to my past I share this homage to the Mexican roadsweeper.
1 Nigel Benn knocked out Ian Chantler on November 24, 1987, after 16 seconds of round 1.
2 "I don't want to fight any more Mexican roadsweepers" was quoted in The Times newspaper on November 27, 1987.
3 In 1980, at the Royal Albert Hall, London, four Mexican boxers (Alejandro Lopez, Roberto Torres, Mario Mendez & Enrique Castro) were all beaten (by Jimmy Flint, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Dave Boy Green & Charlie Magri) inside a total of seven rounds.