I love people of courage. It comes in all forms. When I met Jason I told him a guy friend had asked me to thank Jason for coming out. He thought for a minute and said “Tell him you’re welcome… It’s strange to be thanked for being honest about who you are.” During our shoot and listening to his interview with Jennifer Medina I was struck by his humble grace amid what was a media storm. He still went and worked out the morning of our shoot, between taking calls from President Obama and Oprah. He seemed so happy about finally being able to be open about who he was, and grateful at the great response he had gotten. He will make the road better for young men, athletes and African-American men who are gay. He is a hero.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/sports/jason-collins-took-personal-steps-before-coming-out-publicly.html?_r=0
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.