The following essay documents an 18-month journey taken in 2007 through 8 countries and 11 boxing gyms in Latin America. It was mentioned in the top ten nominations for the "30 Below" competition for Narrative Magazine in 2012.
[EL CALLAO, PERU] Door outside boxing gym in Los Barracones del Callao, Peru.
[PALENQUE, COLOMBIA] A young boxing prospect in Palenque, Colombia on Oct. 13th, 2008. Palenque is the first self-liberated slave colony in the Americas, and home to Colombia’s most renowned boxer, Antonio Cervantes, a.k.a. Kid Pambelé. When Cervantes won the WBA Lightweight Championship in 1972, the Colombian government brought electricity, running water, and telecommunication for the first time to Palenque in response to his victory.
[MANAGUA, NICARAGUA] Boxer Roberto Bonilla shadowboxes with his coach Ramón Gutierrez at the ‘Alexis Argüello Boxing Gym’ in Managua, Nicaragua, on April 23rd, 2008.
[CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA] Henry Aurad stands outside of his home in the Olayá neighborhood of Cartagena, Colombia on August 21st, 2008. Olayá is considered to be one of the most dangerous and impoverished areas of Cartagena. Aurad hopes to earn enough money as a fighter to move him and his family elsewhere.
[LEON, NICARAGUA] Young fighter shadowboxes in Leon, Nicaragua on April 2nd, 2008.
[TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS] Young pugilists wait in line for mitt drills in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on Feb. 14th, 2008. Due to lack of funding, the Honduran Boxing Federation can only employ one coach for the gym.
[MANAGUA, NICARAGUA] Orlando ‘El Duque’ Membreno before his bout on April 18th, 2008.
[EL COLEGIO, COLOMBIA] The Selection of Bogotá boxing team compete in an exhibition match for government officials and local sponsors on May 30th, 2008.
[BARRANQUILLA, COLOMBIA] Aristides Perez (right) takes a punch from his opponent Fabian Ramos (left) on Sept. 9th, 2008.
[CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA] Perez with two of his children outside their mother’s residence in Cartagena, Colombia on Nov. 10th, 2008. Perez is separated from the mother and lives nearby with another family.
[BARRANQUILLA, COLOMBIA] Boxing gym dedicated to the memory of Jimmy Garcia on Oct. 17th, 2008. Jimmy Garcia is best known for his fight against Gabriel Ruelas where Garcia suffered damages that resulted in his death 13 days after the bout. Many attribute his death to the negligence of his corner. The gym is run by his father, Manuel Garcia, and his brother, Manuel Garcia Jr. Both Sr. and Jr. were in his corner the night he fought Ruelas.
[LEON, NICARAGUA] Coaches and boxers watch two fighters in a sparring session on April 2nd, 2008 in León, Nicaragua.
[CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA] Boxer Victor Peralta showers after a workout on Nov. 10th, 2008. Peralta says he showers fully clothed to save time and money from washing his gym clothes at home. At the time of this photo, Peralta held a record of 1 win and 28 losses. He still comes to the gym nearly everyday despite his record.
[LIMA, PERU] Undefeated Peruvian boxing prospect Jonathan Maicelo takes a moment of rest in between rounds in Lima, Peru on Mar 30th, 2009.
[SAN JOSÉ, COSTA RICA] Coach Manuel Leiva displays his work in San José, Costa Rica on Mar. 28th, 2008. In addition to being a self-proclaimed boxing coach, chiropractor, and photographer, Leiva sells miniature boxing rings to help supplement his income.
[CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA] Fighter Paola Rojas kisses her daughter in Cartagena, Colombia on Sept. 15th, 2008. Rojas is best known for her rematch against Ana Pascal in 2007. Despite most analysts predicting an early KO for Pascal, Rojas managed to finish the fight, losing a lopsided 12 round decision. She received a celebratory parade for her resiliency upon her return home.
[CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA] Light welterweight contender Oscar León works out with his son in Cartagena, Colombia on Sept. 26th, 2008. León brings his son to the gym on weekends. He considers it an opportunity to bond with his son.
[CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA] A ‘Palenquero’ fighter poses in the gym on Sept. 24th, 2008 in Cartagena, Colombia. Many boxers from Palenque immigrate alone to larger cities like Cartagena in search of better opportunities in the sport. Often they are enrolled in government athletic programs, leaving their friends and family behind back home.
[LIMA, PERU] An amateur fighter prepares for her bout in Lima Peru, on May 28th, 2009. Peru carries a significant population of women fighters due to the success of Kina Malpartida, the first and only world champion to emerge from the country.
[LOS CORDOBAS, COLOMBIA] Boxer Victor Albornoz warms up in the ring before his debut professional bout on Aug. 31st, 2008 in Los Cordobas, Colombia. Albornoz won by KO in the third round.
[BARRANQUILLA, COLOMBIA] Aristides Perez vs. Fabian Ramos on Sept. 9th, 2008.
[MANAGUA, NICARAGUA] Young fighters watch a sparring match between two professionals in Managua, Nicaragua on April 15th, 2008.