When I was 19 years old, I started the sport of Boxing. There was no real reason for it, I had been in a few fistfights growing up but nothing that lived inside me that had a penchant for blood and fists. I simply thought the sport was cool. Keep in mind, this was the time of Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard…..it was popular and I just wanted to do it.
I fought for almost 5 years before “retiring”. It hurt.
|Ronald Gavril fights at Turning Stone on the Mayweather Promotions card.|
Fast forward twenty some odd years and here I am again in the sport, only this time I am outside of the ropes. I’ve become a sports photographer and I have had the opportunity to shoot quite a few fights in the past year. I’ve flown numerous times to The Turning Stone Resort in Upstate New York and shot televised events under the ShowTime, HBO and ESPN broadcast banners. I’ve also filmed in Kissimmee, Florida, Orlando and Las Vegas, and I’m hopefully just getting started.
|Orlando Cruz (right) told folks he was gay, a first for the sport of Pro Boxing, and then whipped his opponent during an AllStar Promoted card in Kissimee, Florida.|
The interest started back when there was commotion of the first pro fighter coming out, as they say. Puerto Rican superstar Orlando Cruz had just announced that he was gay, a first in the sport, and the media buzz was incredible! I shot his fight in the packed stadium and listened as the catcalls and boo’s quickly turned into chants of joy, and encouragement and National Pride. Cruz had turned a majority of the crowd into passionate fans who got to see his pugilistic prowess first hand. He easily won the fight, and that feeling I had upon seeing my images on the back of my camera that night were set in stone, boxing and the surrounding atmosphere would become my new passion.
|Brandon Adams (left) fights during the ESPN Boxcino Tournament at Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY.|
It was shortly after that when I began work on a documentary film centered around Canastota, New York, the home of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and the town I grew up in. Interviews with Tony Graziano, Ray Rinaldi, Billy Backus and Ed Brophy give this project in depth insight into the history of the sport and how it should be covered and hopefully remembered. This project has continued for almost 3 years, and I am getting closer to finishing up the project with the help of a talented producer and writer, Linnea Edmeier and the locals who have extensive knowledge of boxing and its roots. The folks I have met, and my surrounding team are the best at what they do, and this keeps drawing me back, month after month. I am off once again for my fourth consecutive Hall of Fame inductions in a few weeks, to not only cover the event for the Associated Press wire, but to reach out to make more industry connections. I truly want to be a “go to shooter” in the minds of the promotion companies and their fighters.
|Miguel Cotto knocks out Delvin Rodriguez in the 3rd round at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. The crowd was over 16,000 and this image made the ESPN Photo of the Week.|
Near the end of 2013, another Puerto Rican superstar, Miguel Cotto was bringing his contest to the Amway Arena, with his trainer Freddie Roach. These two have hooked up and are both at the top of their games. The sellout crowd was just under 17,000 and was byfar the biggest fight ever in the Orlando market. Cotto won by beating Delvin Rodriguez by knockout in the 3rd round. My images were distributed all over the Associated Press wire service, and I ended up having a “Photo of the week” image run on the ESPN photo gallery page. Big time fights make for damn good images!
|Floyd Mayweather Jr., now 46-0, weighs in prior to his fight against Marcos Maidana.|
A few more trips back to Turning Stone saw some amazing fights on the ESPN Boxcino tournament. I was able to capture some more thrilling images including a TKO from Floridian Nate Heaven, in the heavyweight division. Power punches galore.
The highlight of my boxing photography happened a few short weeks ago at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Floyd Mayweather and crew had promoted a show at the Turning Stone Events Center, and it was here I met with the media and promotions manager Nicole Craig. She is an extremely busy person, but actually took the time to speak briefly with me. It was her help that enabled me to shoot a few days in Las Vegas.
|Floyd Mayweather Jr punches Marcos Maidana on his way to a 12 round win.|
There is way too much to talk about on this trip, the fans, the promoters, the weigh in, the fight and just that Fight Freak atmosphere….but all in all the experience was incredible. Though I was not really set up to the media access I was normally accustomed to, I was able to pull off a few cool images from my seat up high. I truly hope to one day be a main apron shooter at fights of this magnitude! I am working on my boxing styles every chance I get, and will part of the young guard coming up the ranks…. I want to acknowledge the promoters and media contacts that have helped to get me this far. You will be seeing a lot of my images in publications in the coming years……this I guarantee!