Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach

Freddie and Manny are two of my favorite subjects. I have been lucky enough to photograph them both several times over the past three years for different publications. This time the New York Times sent me to do images for a story, writer Greg Bishop is doing on the upcoming Marquez fight. There have been lots of changes at The Wild Card Boxing Gym over the years. The laundry is no longer downstairs, which means the woman who owned it isn’t chasing everyone in the parking lot. We once washed my sweatshirt over and over to appease her during a shoot. Freddie no longer lives in an apartment attached to the gym, he is now in a nice house. Pepper Roach no longer works at the gym every day. I bumped into Pepper in the parking lot, and while he wasn’t sure who I was from his recent strokes he did ask to marry me, which was our usual banter. I always reply, I’m single…but You are married! It was great to see him up and about.

Manny was going to be late, no surprise there. I shot portraits of Freddie and we caught up on his new girlfriend who seems awesome, his Mom Barbara who no longer is dying her hair blue. Freddie says she is growing up. This is why I love these people. Marie gave me a big hug and said how happy she was to have me back shooting at The Wild Card. This place is full of heart, besides being the training ground of the top boxers. Manny arrived and seemed really relaxed and happy. Every training camp has a feel, and this one seemed very mellow. Manny has become deeply spiritual and involved in politics. It will be interesting to see how this will affect keeping the killer instinct so needed in boxing. Manny plans to keep boxing through 2014 and I hope to be here for the ride.pacquiao_landrymajor-21

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Amir Khan

I spent a few days shooting Amir at the Wild Card. He is so grounded it is hard to believe how young he is. He already has that incredible focus. Freddie believes in him. He thinks he is his next big fighter coming up, and Freddie knows fighters.  The first day I watched him spar his sparring partner was on the mat looking stunned in the second frame I shot. He had no idea what had hit him and how he had gotten there so fast. Amir KhanAmir has no ego, it is work and fun. I love watching these guys smiling through their training, enjoying the process. Amir’s next big fight is in the UK June 27th. A big thank you to Freddie, Amir and his Dad Shah for letting me hang out and photograph him.Image Copyright Landry Major Photo. Do not reproduce without permission

Smitten

Ok, I am smitten. Smitten by the Wild Card Boxing Gym and the people who inhabit it. The international boxing talent that train in this small gym in the middle of Hollywood is amazing. I was there two days this week shooting English boxer Amir Khan. While I was there Andrei Arlovski was there sparring in preparation for his next MMA fight. There were boxers from Scotland, Kenya, you name it.  Freddie Roach is the quiet presence that every one flocks to. He is somehow still grounded and ego free. He just went to Vegas to accept his giant Trainer of the Year award and trophy. Since he hates trophies..he left it on the bus, and they will mail it to him. His assistant trainer heavy weight champion Michael Moorer is working with Arlovski while Freddie concentrates on Amir who is amazing already at only 18 years old. The first day I was there his sparring partner was on the mat looking stunned after the first two minutes, trying to figure out how he got there. There is a quiet intensity to everyone in the Wild Card. WildCard_LandryMajor-89The Wild Card parking lot and being yelled at by the woman who runs the laundry downstairs is considered a rite of passage.  I had some amazing conversations with trainers who have given me such great insight into boxing and boxers. Pictured Scottish Boxer Gary Young.

Manny Pacquiao

Manny PacquiaoNo ones hands should move this fast. No ones arms should be able to hit the bag like that, for as long as he does. Manny Pacquiao is at the top of his game. I was lucky enough to be able to shoot Manny and Freddie training together in preparation for the big Hatton fight. These two men who train at such an elite level, truly love what they do. Freddie puts on his gear and his eyes sparkle. Manny smiles as he is going beyond what seems humanly possible to do.  They play with each other in the ring, while pushing to extreme levels. I knew he would beat Ricky Hatton in the fight. No one could match his speed and striking right now. I was granted a portrait session with Manny after he was done training. I was so grateful to Manny, Freddie, Michael and Rob who all made it happen.Image Copyright Landry Major Photo. Do not reproduce without permission

Freddie Roach

freddieroche_landrymajor-7992weI first met Freddie Roach when I went to his Wild Card Gym to photograph MMA fighter Andrei Arlovski. Freddie was the boxing coach on Andrei’s dream team. I was taken by many aspects of Freddie. He is not what you would expect for the trainer to champions like Manny Pacquiao, Mike Tyson and Oscar de la Hoya. Freddie is a small quiet man with his black rimmed glasses. He got in the ring to train Andrei and became a focused laser to get his fighter to punch harder and not hesitate for a second. I knew I wanted to do a portrait of Freddie. I love the back wall in his gym, the private place where fighters train. It is tagged with Wild Card in great graphics. I knew that first day I would shoot him on that wall. The Wild Card is a classic old school boxing gym. The walls are covered in famous fighters photos, boxing gloves hang all along one wall…it’s classic right down to the smell that hits you when you enter…sweat and determination in equal parts. Freddie is charming and sweet and gave us Wild Card T shirts when we left. We will wear them proudly!Image Copyright Landry Major Photo. Do not reproduce without permission