Undefeated Nights - Fight Night at the Calliope Coliseum
For the past couple of years, I’ve been working out at the New Orleans Boxing Club on Conti St. I’m by no means whatsoever a boxer, but I like the vibe at the gym and the motivation aspect of being around a ton of really hard working guys and girls. I’ve never been a fan of the “put headphones on and ignore everyone else while working out in the air-conditioning” Planet Fitness type scenario. Having gotten to know some of the fighters and trainers a little bit, I’ve been trying to shoot one of the fight nights for a while now, but something would always come up with work. This time around, the planets finally aligned, and I got a chance to make at least a portion of the event. The big story for this fight was the return of undefeated local favorite Marcus McDaniels after being shot several times 6 months ago. The crowd was all in for him and the rest of the locals, and as they say, the air was crackling with energy.
Unfortunately, I missed Sean Hemphill’s fight by just minutes, having come from another gig. As I walked up to the coliseum, I could hear the crowd going absolutely nuts, and knew I was missing something good. I did manage to grab a quick post-fight portrait.
The heavyweights were the first fight I caught, and Dulac native Jonathan “King” Guidry made pretty short work of his massive opponent, almost sending him over the ring and into the judges’ table. Short, but exciting fight. Clipping a flash on one of the supports on a wall to one side of the ring let me add some flash, which really helped create some structure. All the available light was coming from directly overhead.
After the Guidry fight, I made my way to the locker room and captured a few images while the fighters for the next two fights got taped up and warmed up. Using a flash held in my left hand let me try and imitate the “bare bulb” flash look I see in a lot of classic images, without the harshness of on camera flash. The room was pretty dark, and painted a strong green color, so bounce flash was totally out of the question. In somewhat similar fashion to a wedding, I find it pretty cool and fascinating to watch people prepare for something intense. Those intense moments really make for great photos, and you could definitely feel the anticipation in the room. Up and coming professional boxer and hugely popular Regis Prograis stopped by to show his support.
Iilyan (Occhi) Kolev was the next fighter up, and essentially ended the fight as I was getting comfortable and starting to shoot more. His opponent seemed to want a brawl, but wasn’t anywhere near as quick, and got caught enough times to send him down and get a stoppage. The crowd was definitely happy with the outcome, and he had a ton of supporters screaming his name.
In between fights, I roamed around and took a few shots of folks hanging out - Zereaux, who was supposed to fight but who’s opponent dropped out, New Orleans city councilman Jason Williams, the ring card girls and announcer, and Regis Prograis hanging out with some of the other boxers.
Finally, it was time for the main event. And the power went out. As we all know, nothing goes perfectly in show business. The power supplying the DJ booth, and hence the sounds system and microphone was out, so McDaniels had to come out without music or introduction. Did not seem to phase the crowd a huge amount, as they were making plenty of noise for the local favorite. As he stepped in the ring, the main light illuminating the ring went out. Eventually, back up lighting was turned on (actually looked pretty cool), and the fight got started. Great fight that went all 6 rounds, with his opponent putting in plenty of work and absorbing some vicious blows. McDaniels hammed it up a little bit in the last round, much to the excitement of the crowd.
One of my favorite images of the night came after the fight, with McDaniels surrounded by friends and family, and lit with the light of the TV crew there. I purposely kept the camera in the frame, and the emotions throughout the frame are a great glimpse into just how much the victory meant.
Big congrats to all the winners, and thanks to Chase, Susie and NOBC for the access. Until next time.