The Old One Two: Underground Boxing in New York

Devin Yalkin
Devin Yalkin
Sharkie Staxx getting his mouthpiece put in for round two of fighting. Caption commentary courtesy of Devin Yalkin.

Photographer Devin Yalkin first heard about underground boxing the way many legendary things are passed along—through the grapevine.

Heading out one night with a few friends, Yalkin arrived at a giant building in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Joining a slow moving mass of people climbing a staircase, he felt the dull vibrations from the steps beneath him. “The scene was rampant,” he says. “The music was shaking the walls as if there was a subway going through the floor below us.” Yalkin had arrived.

Although he’s never boxed, the photographer was immediately drawn to the spectacle of the fights. The uncertainty of the new environment sparked a curiosity in the 30-year-old that brought him back fight after fight, and drew him in on what Yalkin considers the true essence of the underground scene: the rush.

Yalkin’s black and white images, which he began shooting in November 2010, reflect an indefinite undercurrent of the matches, encapsulating not just the fight itself but the emotion of the spectators, the grit of the environment and the sensory overload of the new situation. “These boxing matches not only inspired me to go back to documentary work, but to really experiment with long exposure methods to add to what I consider abstract elements to the photos,” he says. “My aim is to capture what I feel is the true essence of a fight by documenting the rush, sound and the chaotic feel of the environment as much as I can through my photography.”

Devin Yalkin is a New York based photographer and a recent graduate of School of Visual Arts. This year is work was featured at the Noorderlicht festival.  See more of his work here.

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