Boxing is one of the most popular sports in Cuba and its fighters are recognized the world over for their skills and finesse. The Cuban national team holds more Olympic medals in the sport than any other country, making the nation a hotbed of emerging global champions. State-sanctioned and promoted since the revolution, amateur boxing’s potential for fame and relative wealth makes it a beacon for impoverished youth yearning for a better life. Shot all across the Republic of Cuba, Havana Boxing Club documents amateur boxing schools and the aspiring, determined boys studying the sweet science. Compiled over the course of eight years, French photographer Thierry Le Goues spent countless hours in the complex network of training facilities that abound in the island nation, developing relationships with the coaches and their young progeny, following the rise and fall of countless talents and wannabes.
The resulting images are of young fighters struggling, sweating, and fighting to overcome anything thrown in their way–inside the ring and out. Le Goues’ luscious tritone black and white photographs depict rigorous training camps, boxing rings erected in the streets of small villages in the Cuban countryside, the lows of these young boxers struggling with abject poverty and crushing defeat, and the ultimate highs of rising up victorious over all obstacles and challengers. The pure instinct to survive against overwhelming odds and to realize their dreams of boxing on the national team is both startling and beautiful. Havana Boxing Club captures the sport’s arresting beauty and unrelenting brutality.
Thierry Le Goues was born in Brest, France in 1964 and lives in Paris. Le Goues began his career as a fashion photographer in 1986 working for Conde Nast. His fashion, documentary, and editorial photography has appeared in publications internationally including Vogue and l’Uomo Vogue, Lei, Per Lui, Amica, and Marie Claire in Italy; Glamour, Vogue Homme International, and Vogue in France; Arena, Vogue, i.d., The Face, Harpers Bazaar, and Elle in England; and Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, Detour, Interview, Vogue, W, and Flaunt in the United States. Le Goues is the author of Soul and Popular (both published by powerHouse Books).