Kalpesh Lathigra on Boxing
1. For those of us who’ve never stepped into the ring, what does it feel like to get punched in the face?
The first time it's a bit of a shock, but after that you get used to the fact that you will get hit and try not to get hit. On the whole its a levelling experience.
2. What prompted you to start boxing? Why do you continue?
I started because I needed something for myself away from family, friends and photography. I continue because I need to physically and more importantly psychologically.
I enjoy the gym I go to because it keeps me grounded in life , the people there are salt of the earth, old school and will put you straight if your being an idiot. Its not far from where I was born and still live in east London. I like to train and I like to spar, there is a beauty and grace in Boxing either you get that or you don’t.
3. What's something boxing gives you that you can't get anywhere else?
Boxing keeps me in check mentally, I have played other sports and the cliche saying of you don't play boxing holds true. You are in control in the ring no one else so however you fight, good or bad, it's down to you.
4. What preconception did you bring to boxing that you quickly found to be wrong?
That it was all about being a hard as nails. It's not, boxers / fighters are complex probably as much as photographers and artists. That they are also both solitary careers / professions or whatever you want to call it.
5. A lot of people assume it’s brutal, thuggish and violent - is that fair?
It's the opposite - there is beauty, grace, humility, love and respect. Yes, it's a brutally hard sport, and yes, it's violent but we are not thugs, most fighters will walk away from a fight in the street. They have that discipline of the ring.
6. Where do you fight? What’s special about that place?
I train at The Peacock Gym in Canning Town, East London. It's special because it's old school - by that I mean that I feel at home there, the people are my people, there are no airs or graces, you work hard, there's always a friendly hello and they don’t tolerate idiots. Good banter and humour, it's a safe nourishing environment, and above all it's a community.
7. Who has photographed boxing especially well, in your opinion?
That's a difficult question - if we are saying who photographed a boxer amazingly then I would say Howard Bingham who was Muhammed Ali’s best friend. If we are talking about boxing reportages then Giorgia Fiorio, Cheryl Dunn, Neil Liefer - and Stanley Kubrick made a great series too!
8. What's a cherished memory that you've taken from boxing?
Friendship and respect from the guys I train and spar with, they indulge me! And my coach Andre Olley who tolerates me and my dreams to be world champ!