BLOG #129 1/26/2016
Miguel Cotto, Middleweight Champion sitting in a stool in his corner between rounds while his trainers throw water at him to cool him off and heighten his alertness.
In professional boxing the rounds are three minutes long, with a one-minute break in between. For that one minute, the boxers sit on a stool in their corners, with big boxing gloves on their hands making them helpless to do anything for themselves, even hold a water bottle.
When working on my book, “AT THE FIGHTS, Inside the World of Professional Boxing,” I photographed boxing matches for Sports Illustrated from ringside, often at Madison Square Garden in New York City. I was often positioned right at the spot where the boxers sat in the stool for their one minute rest.
Joe Morales, Featherweight, in the corner, between rounds. His trainer presses an adrenaline-soaked pad on a large bleeding cut above his eye.
It was amazing to see the boxers, powerful athletes involved in a violent sport, unable to do anything but sit and listen as their managers yelled instructions. Trainers poured water on the heads of the boxers (as they caught their breath) to cool them off. The trainers pushed cotton-tipped swabs soaked with adrenaline up their nostrils and onto facial cuts to halt bleeding and pressed Vaseline into the open wounds. While all this was being done around and to them, the fighters tried to tune-in to the trainer’s instructions and remain focused on the punishing job ahead.
So, when champion boxers came to my studio for photography for the book, I knew I could put them through the kind of abuse I would never dream of with models, dancers, or even other athletes. To simulate the mayhem of their corners during a fight, I threw water at them, powder, even salt…everything I could think of. Whatever I did, they just took it, and responded to my directions willingly and enthusiastically without resistance.
I threw water at Julio Cesar Chavez, Middleweight, and directed him to hit it.
I threw horse salt at Amir Khan, welterweight, and asked him to punch it so hard that it would hit the lens of my camera, 30 feet away. He did.
I had Chris Areola, Heavyweight, bust water-filled balloons with his hands and also taped short nails to his back, sticking out, and had my assistant throw the water-filled balloons at his back.
I threw bags full of powder at Tim Bradley, welterweight champion.
I threw water at the welterweight, Pauli Malignaggi.
I “rained” water on the Irish Champion, John Duddy.