Friday, August 10, 2012

Come Back Big

Foundry Photojournalism week 2012 may be in the books, but Foundry Photojournalism recovery week 2012 is in full swing-- errr, full walk. A slow walk that is...

Case in point being that my schedule has been wide open yet I've still needed six days before finally feeling up to the task of creating a fresh blog post with new work.

During the (crazy) week, I worked alongside five fellow students in Danish photojournalist Henrik Kastenskov's multimedia class. My subject was a local Muay Thai fighter Mana "Big" Inkham, who, seven months earlier, was the victim of a hit and run accident while stopped at a light on his motorbike with his girlfriend. He suffered a severe concussion, spent a week in the hospital and has since continued to train and fight despite a stern disapproval from his doctor.

As someone who used to spend most of his time in pursuit of athletics, I could immediately relate to Big's lifestyle. He wakes up early, trains for a few hours in the morning and then sleeps and relaxes during the daytime before continuing with his training into the evening. And while I never faced anything close to the magnitude of setback that Big is dealing with now, the feeling of dedicating 95% of your time to a sport, only to have it chew you up and spit you out with nothing more to show than a few bruises is something quite familiar. I think all endurance athletes know this feeling all too well...

I followed Big as he prepared for a fight in the neighboring Lamphun Province-- about a three and a half hour drive from Chiang Mai. After the fight, I spent a few days putting together a multimedia piece that tells Big's story. I have since decided to re-edit the piece so instead of posting it, I will share some still photos from the project. When I have finalized the multimedia piece, I will post it here.

Until then, here are ten photographs from my time spent with Big.

Big trains at the Lanna Muay Thai Gym in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Big shares the back of his trainer's truck with two dogs who live at the Lanna Muay Thai center.

After a hard early morning run, Big cools down before heading back to Chiang Mai.

A set of keys sit on the edge of a boxing ring at Lanna Muay Thai training center. 
Big has a laugh before heading to his fight in the Lamphun Province of Northern Thailand on July 30, 2012.

A crowd of a few hundred waits eagerly for Big's fight to begin in Li, Thailand on July 30, 2012.

Lanna Muay Thai founder Andy Thompson participates with Big in pre-fight traditions.

Big's trainer holds his head and offers encouragement between the second and third rounds of his fight.

After losing by way of judge's decision, Big holds his aching head and tries to sleep.

Big rides in his trainer's truck on July 30, 2012.

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