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.
The new biography on Manny Pacquiao is out. I am proud to have shot the cover image. It was pretty cool to see it on the tables at Barnes and Noble. I am looking forward to sitting down and reading it.
I am once again happy to have the cover of The Ring Magazine for March. It is a photo of Manny Pacquiao hitting the double bag at The Wild Card Gym. What is really amazing is that I took this photo during media day before the last fight. Any one who has ever been to a media day will understand the utter chaos of tons of reporters, photographers and videographers all crammed in a small area jockeying for a shot. You never think you will walk away with a cover image. Thanks to Nigel at The Ring and super huge Congrats to Manny for being Fighter of The Year!
The Ring featured my photo of Manny Pacquiao on the cover. The Ring is the bible of boxing. It is an honor to be able to document fighters who are at the top of their game. Manny is one such athlete. He makes the impossible seem effortless. To watch him is to be amazed.
No 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
I 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