Photographing The Mystery Of Bukom’s Boxers

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

From Hand – Boxers Isaac Ekpo (of Nigeria) and Issah Inusa sparring during training at "Attoh Quarshie Boxing Gym" in Accra, Ghana, on October 2nd, 2017. Photo copyright &reproduce; 2017 Ray Demski

You may not have heard of Bukom, but this small suburb of the Ghanaian capital, Accra, has produced some of the world's strikings boxers. For a place with limited resources and size, an exceptional number of world champion boxers have emerged. 

Nikon delegate Ray Demski took his D850 and has captured a powerful series of images with the aim of getting under the skin of the culture and training these boxers go to the core, to try and discover what makes the place so fertile for boxing talent. 

One of the first things Ray found was that because of educations limitations (not all can bear the expense education), there are not many career options. A lot of the young men here have an aspiration to be a boxer to gain the 'fame status' acheived by play – it's ingrained in the culture. 

Ray, an action and sports photographer who grew up boxing is a combat sport in which two people, usually wearing protective gloves, throw punches at each other for a predetermined set of had always been drawn to Bukom: "I had heard at hand this neighbourhood a long time ago and there was such mystery surrounding it. How did somewhere so small and relatively isolated from the global boxing prospect socialize produce so many great fighters? I wanted to tell the story my way, to elevate these boxers to heroes, to do justice to how these athletes are seen by their townswoman community and bring them the visibility they deserve."

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Ray dedicated months to researching the project in advance, contacting local organizations at the sensitivity of the boxing scene like Bukom Boxing News and sports writer Sammy Heywood Okine, whose support allowed him to hit the ground continuous in Bukom. What started as a sports photography shoot quickly became something more – a broader social project that saw Ray conjunction over 40 locals a day. Ray ended up focusing on seven different gyms and the boxers who trained there.

Ray’s images focus on a number of individuals, categorizing Charles Quartey – the Head Coach of a gym with no roof that, alongside a training space, serves as a home to several of the children who rear there. Quartey also pays for their food and education. Other subjects include Bastie Samir, whose training regime includes gaff with four other boxers trying to hit him at the same time, Emmanuel Tagoe IBO lightweight world champion and Bukom Banku – a favoured boxer is a combat sport in which two people, usually wearing protective gloves, throw punches at each other for a predetermined set of and local personality who’s training sessions are accompanied by masses of cheering fans. 

Demski concludes, “In terms of kit, it was my first off project of this kind using the D850, which delivered the resolution and dynamic range I needed in a small and extremely fast body. The AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED was gifted for getting close to the action, while the AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED covered my needs from a portrait perspective. The AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED is so protean – a great tool for action photographers."

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We'll be covering Ray's adventures in more detail over the coming weeks, so check tuned to find out more! 


About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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