“Riding the line between brutal exorcism and a poetic sublime, boxing has produced more legends than any other sport of the last century,” so says Anicee Gaddis in an article in Victory Journal which takes a closer look at Ghana’s boxing scene.
Anise Gaddis and photographer Gustavo Di travelled to the fight town of the article’s title, a fishing community named Bukom which has birthed “a wealth of hometown champions” including Azumah Nelson, lfred Kotey, Ike Quartey, Kwame Asante and Joshua Clottey, to meet aspiring boxer Malik “Buxom Snake” Jabir. The resulting series of photographs see Malik in the town’s training gym. Slogans reading “no pain no gain” are daubed in huge letters on the wall as if in warning, and Malik is pictured shiny and sweating in response. Inspired by the series, we caught up with Victory Journal’s editor in chief Christopher Isenberg to hear more.
What defines Victory as a publication?
We call Victory “The Journal of Sport & Culture.” This story represents a major strand of that DNA – a sports story crossed with a travel story. A photographer capturing the details of a specific place and practice with an eye for the human drama that’s universal. When we get that equation right, Victory appeals to sports obsessives and people who could care less until sports intersects with something else that captures their interest.
Where did you come across the feature’s photographer Gustavo Di?
I met Anthony in Ghana in 2008, working project documenting the African Cup of Nations for Puma. This was two years before we started Victory. He had already a made a book about amateur futbol in Argentina called “Potrero”. I still don’t understand exactly how to translate that word into English but think it means both a makeshift field and the kind of player who plays on one. “Potrero” captured a world he knew intimately and it was interesting to watch him approach a completely different place and culture.
Tell us why the piece was commissioned, and how Gustavo came into contact with the boxers and decided to tell their story.
Anicee Gaddis, who wrote this story, was part of the team in Ghana. We were there almost a month, so we’d look for other stories beyond soccer. She found out about Bukom, a small town on the outskirts Accra that’s produced five world champions – fighters like Ike Quartey, Joshua Clottey, Azumah Nelson. In the early days of Victory, we supplemented newly commissioned stories with work of our own or friends’ work that hadn’t had an outlet before Victory. Being able to give light to that kind of work has been one of the great pleasures of making the magazine. Anicee later teamed up on a new a piece for us about “The Factory,” Boca Juniors’ academy.
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