Blog #209   6/6/17


Bernard Hopkins, born Philadelphia, PA.  USA

Have you ever been on a journey so eye-opening, exciting, and viscerally thrilling that you could feel your heart pounding as your pulse raced, while at the same time you struggled with whether you ought to be on that journey at all?

Timothy Bradley, born Cathedral City, CA. USA

 Joseph Agbeko, born Accra, Ghana

Manny Pacquiao, born Kibawe, Bukidnon, Phillipines

So it has been for me during my six-year project to study the sport of boxing and to photograph professional boxers, most at the peak of their careers.

In my Manhattan studio, I worked one-on-one with many champions, doing interviews and creating photographs, action images as well as portraits. My major goal was to use each encounter with these extraordinary athletes and individuals to make remarkable and unique images.

This blog is about the portraits I made.

Vanes Martirosyan, born Abovyan, Armenia

Yonnhy Perez, born Cartagena, Columbia

Roy Jones, Jr, born Pensacola, FL.  USA

During the project, one of the many things I wanted to learn and record was the enormous range in the look of boxers since it is an international sport and the boxers who came to the studio were from every continent and dozens of countries.

Devon Alexander, born St. Louis, MO.  USA

Daniel Jacobs, born Brownsville, New York. USA

James Kirkland, born Austin TX.  USA
Not a “face” but still a portrait.

Each of the boxers seen here has been both a champion (i.e. the best in the world in his weight class) and has lost in championship matches.  Almost every one of them has been knocked unconscious in a match.

I cannot fathom the emotional and physical risk every one of them has willingly accepted.  How can one possibly understand, on a visceral level, what elation and rapture they experience when they win, and the disheartening despair they endure when they lose?

There are no other athletes who accept what fighters must as just another day at the office: the risk of serious physical harm caused by opponents whose goal is to induce in them a comatose state—usually brief but sometimes beyond recovery.

Yuriorkis Gamboa, born Guantanamo, Cuba

Sergio Martinez, born Quilmes, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Wladmir Klitschko, born Zhangiztobe, Kazahhstan

Given the powerful human attraction to observing violence, if not necessarily participating in it (perhaps especially if not participating), boxing is deeply human; brutal, yes, but human. Along with my studio work with fighters, I spent a great deal of time at fights, photographing at ringside. When, in the first round of a match, two boxers send tentative, testing jabs in each other’s direction, the crowd watches with anticipation but not much emotion. However, when two men begin to punch away powerfully at each other, landing blows that wreak increasing havoc, the crowd becomes more and more involved emotionally; there is very little in sports like the explosive roar around the ring when a boxer goes down.

Andre Berto, born Winter Haven, FL.  USA

Vic Darchinyan, born Vanadzor, Armenia

Kevin Johnson, born Asbury Park, NJ.  USA

How does a boxer deal with the innate savagery of the sport? Where does the astounding courage emanate; and how do they incessantly, stubbornly continue?

John Duddy, born Derry, Northern Ireland.

Edwin Rodriguez, born Moca, Dominican Republic

Amir Khan, born Bolton, Lancashire, England, UK

Over the years, in the course of this work, I came to appreciate and even feel awe for professional boxers, special individuals who, in their efforts to become champions, combine desire and vulnerability, bravado and endurance, accomplishment and failure.

I have heard it said, by many, that one falls in love with boxers, these violent yet vulnerable men. And so I have.

Glitterati Incorporated, the publisher of the Retrospective, Schatz Images: 25 Years is now offering the two- book boxed set at a discount from the original price. The set comes with an 11″x14” print of the buyer’s choice.