In The Ring

Jan 10, 2012
Photographer Spotlight

Recently, Robert Gallagher heard from friend Gary A Poole—boxing writer and author of the Manny Pacquiao biography, PacMan—that the magazine The Ring was looking to infuse some new blood and style into their boxing-centric publication.

According to Robert, this was music to his ears, as he’s always loved shooting athletes—”you just can’t fake that kind of authenticity”—with boxers being a particular favorite subject.

Close-up of a boxer by Robert Gallagher

So, charged with the task to bring new life and a style to The Ring’s images, Robert went off to shoot a photo essay on Hollywood’s Wild Card Boxing Club. Wild Card is owned and operated by Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach, and is the home to world champion boxers such as Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, Julio Chavez Jr and many more. Over the years, Freddie has trained 17 world champions at Wild Card, making it “the Mecca of today’s boxing world.”

These days, much of Robert’s assignment work is portrait based, so he was excited to dive into something a little different. “This was a great opportunity to get back to my first love, the photo essay. There’s really no substitute if you’re a story teller at heart.”

Boxers in the ring, photograph by Robert Gallagher

The shoot brought Robert to an unassuming strip mall, certainly not what you’d expect for a world renowned boxing hub. However, once inside, Robert found himself in another world. For the next two days, Robert was immersed in the world of champion boxers, working to capture the essence of the gym and its patrons,

This was a particularly busy time at the gym, as three of their biggest fighters had world championship fights coming up (Pacquiao, Amir Khan, Julio Chavez Jr), plus there were HBO crews on site shooting documentaries, so there was a lot going on. But I was appreciative of the time they gave me, and I think everyone appreciated how my style was so truly non-invasive and very fly on the wall.

Boxer with trainer preparing to go into the ring

Close-up of sweaty boxer, photograph by Robert Gallagher

With so much going on, Robert had to be quick on his toes and watch not only the lens, but his back as well,

The place is literally so packed that often my main concern was to avoid getting a heavy bag whacked in the back of my head! Shooting in some areas, I found myself literally bobbing and weaving between shadow punches!

Close-up of Freddie Roach by Robert Gallagher

Freddie Roach

The energy and atmosphere was inspiring to Robert, who came away from the shoot with a desire to start boxing himself. “Watching Pacquiao hit the speed bag is one of the most beautifully hypnotic things I’ve ever seen. How could you not want to do that?”

The Ring was very happy with the images, and Robert is now working on several more photo stories for them.

To view more of Robert’s work, visit his website, gallagherphoto.com.

– Maria Luci