When I hear the rancherita ring walk music or when I see the beautiful green, white and red, something inside of me explodes. It’s a very powerful feeling. It’s pride, fervor and machismo wrapped up into one feeling.
— Juan Angel Zurita
 
 

The Boxer

Boxing is one of Mexico's fastest growing sports and the country has produced over 200 world champions. Mexican boxing has also strongly influenced the sport in America even as the overall popularity of boxing has declined. Oscar De La Hoya (born in California to Mexican parents) and Julio César Chávez (from Sonora, Mexico) are household names in America even outside the boxing fandom and major fights in the US are scheduled to coincide with Mexican holidays.

For some of the poorest Mexicans, boxing represents a means of escape from a socio-economic chokehold as well as an accessible form of entertainment. Tepito, considered one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Mexico City, has also produced an outsize number of talented boxers—so much so that the neighborhood’s subway station symbol is a boxing glove. Fighters from the “barrio bravo” have earned the respect of millions of boxing fans world over.

At Gimnasio Nuevo Jordan in Mexico City (visited by Bob Dylan, a long time boxing fan, in 2008), men and women train side by side.  On any given day you can find a range of skill from novices to world champions. I had the opportunity to visit the gym in June 2017 to shoot these portraits. Some of the people photographed are new to the sport while others are champion fighters. A big thank you to fellow photographer Keith Dannemiller for making it happen.

Sources & More Reading:

The Proud History of Mexican Boxing by Rhett Butler (Aug 2015)

The Untold Story of Mexican Boxing by Lydia Carey (May 2018)

A History of Latino and Mexican Boxing by Roberto José Andrade Franco (Feb 2018)

Boxing Struggles, but it Has a Culture in its Corner by Wallace Matthews (May 2017)