It’s a knockout: Punchy pictures reveal Brixton’s boxers

Over the past six months a self-funded boxing organisation in Brixton has put together a selection of photographs and interviews for an exhibition detailing some of South London’s best fighters.

Champs Within, a boxing organisation which promotes the sport as a means for young people to maintain physical and mental well-being, worked alongside students from Lambeth schools and photographers to create The Champions Within: Portraits of a Boxing Community.

The exhibition of more than 60 works is being shown at Brixton Library, in Windrush Square until May 3.

From coaches, professionals, amateurs, white collar boxers and fitness enthusiasts, the exhibition hones in on each fighter’s journey, revealing the positive intersections between boxing, health, community and creativity. 

Portrait of champs within boxer on show at Brixton Library (Picture: @champswithin)

Through candid interviews and captivating photography, The Champions Within: Portraits of a Boxing Community showcases the inspirational stories of each fighter at Champs Within.

During the making of the exhibition, students from across Lambeth were invited to take part in a workshop day at Miguel’s Boxing Gym, in Hardess Street, Brixton, alongside photographers Chelsea Pineda, Anselm Ebulue, Sara Romanin Jacur and James Greenhalgh, who are all local to the area. 

The budding photographers got up close with sparring boxers to take their snapshots of the action as it unfolded in the ring with specialist cameras, lighting and studio equipment provided by Fujifilm and Photofusion.

Students explored film and analogue, learned about aperture and exposure and had complete freedom to experiment and direct the shots.

Sammy McKay before his fight with Greyvin Mendoza at Peacock Boxing Gym in Canning Town, London (Picture: @chelspineda /Chelsea Pineda )

The result is a combination of sports photography, action shots and creative portraiture of the boxing club’s champs adorned with belts and holding their trophies.

But, the exhibition offers more than just photography. Founder and head coach of Champs Within, 29-year-old Sammy McKay, and journalist Jordan King, sat down with some of the boxers to listen to and record their stories.

In these conversations, boxers shared their personal journeys, triumphs, and the impact boxing has had on their lives.

The full range of interviews can be heard on headphones throughout the exhibition.

Mr McKay started community boxing sessions twice a week in 2021 at Miguel’s Boxing Gym.

Portrait of Cecilia (Picture: @champswithin)

The club operates weekly youth and adult classes as well as six-week award programmes and single session workshops for schools and youth organisations across London.

Mr Mckay said: “There are kids who are at risk of being led astray or distracted. I go into schools and I keep them boxing.

“A lot of the time we are seeing these pupils improve their attendance, school work, get in less trouble and have fewer detentions.”

The team at Champs Within, other than Mr McKay, is made up of Keano Daley, assistant coach, Ibrahim Armstrong, coach and mentor and Rackeime chambers, marketer and researcher.

Their ventures also include food drives where they partner up with Brixton soup kitchen to help struggling families, as well as delivering talks to young people about their rights and knowledge of the law through their partnership with Tucker’s Law Firm.

To see The Champions Within: Portraits of a Boxing Community, visit Brixton Library before May 3.

Pictured top: Champs within boxer Keano Daley (Picture:@maccamugshots Andrew Mcleay)

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