Hardening the Steel

2012, November 22

Author: Tadas Kazakevičius

As soon as we start to think about boxing as a sport, we are touched by the brutal and harsh feelings. It associates with aggression and hatred, mutilation of other person. While watching boxing fights on TV or in an arena, one often ends up overpowered by inner instincts, bestial desire of blood. Nonetheless it’s a way to profit; gambling is a frequent occurrence in this sport. However, when starting to analyze and follow very carefully and in all sincerity very atypical features can be found in it. Everything seen by the naked eye is just a cover. Content here is much more positive and colourful, certain things acquire different meanings and symbolism.

Boxing is more than a physical activity or just sport. Listening to a person, who loves boxing, the understanding comes that everything is much subtle and complex. This is his psychology and the way of living every day. Moreover it is his mind control, balance, tranquility and, of course, tactics. Eventually it becomes the dance, physical movements led by his heart.

“All Stars” boxing gym

“All Stars” boxing gym is the place, where youngsters of London city are taught not just refinements of boxing but the way of life. This is a home for many young and restless souls for more than 30 years. Gym became shelter for youth when Mr. Isola Akay, young immigrant at that time, decided to open the boxing gym as a place for his young son to practice boxing in still racist 1980s London. Even though his son is not with us any more, the main idea of Mr. Akay has not changed and is alive in his heart. Without much change he still gives all his time, still being driven by the same noble goal.

Doors of the club are always open. It was planned for closure not too long ago – lack of financing. Everyday payments from students are not enough to keep the club running and Mr. Akay often needs to look for new possibilities to find the additional financing. Yet with abundant support of local community there is an opportunity to carry on. Training in this club for young people and kids is very cheap, so everyone has a possibility to follow their dream.

Main idea of “All Stars” boxing gym is not just grow and prepare forthcoming boxing champions of United Kingdom but to teach them to choose the right path in their life, keep them away from the streets and the dangers that can confront young people in their everyday lives.

This photo story is about young fighters and the hard working people in mentioned gym. It is the story about their daily exercises, sweats, and the moments of serenity, smiles and pain, they agree to bear for the hope of better tomorrow.

Video presentation of the photos along the audio, recorded during the practices.